Assisi, Province of Perugia, Umbria
Assisi is a town and episcopal see on the western flank of Mt. Subasio, the birthplace of St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan religious order in 1208, St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares, and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Assisi is a religious destination second only to Rome, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Population: about 28,000 inhabitants in 2018
- Zip/postal code: 06081
- Dialing Area Code: +39 075
- Frazioni & Localities: Armenzano, Capodacqua, Castelnuovo, Colle delle Forche, Costa di Trex, Mora, Palazzo, Paradiso, Passaggio d'Assisi, Petrignano, Pieve San Nicolò, Porziano, Rivotorto, Rocca Sant'Angelo, San Gregorio, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Santa Maria Lignano, San Presto, Sterpeto, Torchiagina, Tordandrea, Tordibetto, Viole.
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History - Antiquity and the Middle Ages
Assisi was an ancient town of the Umbrian people, and was remarkably influenced in antiquity by the Etruscan civilixation. Under the Romans it was a municipium called Asisium. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD, Assisi was destroyed by the Goths in 545 AD, then was for a time under Byzanthine rule and afterwards was conquered by the Lombards who included its territory in the Duchy of Spoleto. From the 11th century the town tried to become an independent city state, but was defeated by Friedrich I von Hohenstaufen (1122-1190, also known as Friedrich Barbarossa or Frederick Redbeard).
History - The Renaissance and Modern Age
In the following centuries Assisi was often endangered by the power of nearby Perugia, and was attacked by the Viscontis, the Montefeltros, Braccio Fortebraccio da Montone, and the Sforzas; moreover, there were continuuous disputes between the two quarters of the city (Parte de Sopra and Parte de Sotto). From the 16th century it was included in the Papal State and finally became part of the Italian State in 1860, when Italy was unified under the Savoy monarchy.
What to see
- The medieval castle, called "Rocca Maggiore", built by Cardinal Albornoz in 1367, that dominates the town.
- Santa Maria Maggiore, the earliest extant church.
- The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi. The Franciscan monastery and the lower and upper church (Basilica inferiore e superiore) of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed in 1253. The lower church has frescos by renowed late-medieval artists Cimabue and Giotto; in the Upper church are frescos of scenes in the life of St Francis by Giotto and his school of painters.
- The Cathedral of San Rufino, with a Romanesque façade with three rose windows and a 16th century interior; part of it is built on a Roman cistern.
- Santa Chiara (St Clare) with its massive lateral buttresses, rose window, and simple Gothic interior, begun in 1257, contains the tomb of the saint and 13th-century frescoes and paintings.
- Santa Maria degli Angeli, (St. Mary of the Angels), which houses the Porziuncola, the small chapel where St. Francis died.