Assisi is one of the most impressive little towns that we have ever seen. It is not so little, actually, – plenty of walking is involved to get around all of the attractions.
There are literally hundreds of picture spots, beautiful medieval streets and houses decorated by flowers, fountains on major piazzas, as well as many interesting shops and galleries. Somehow the town does not feel overly commercialized that way, say, San Gimignano is. In addition, there is a variety of small museums to which entry is seemingly always free.
The grand churches comprise the main attractions in town. Among them, Basilica di San Francesco ♥♥♥ is a must-see, unique, lavishly painted with frescoes, and offering two separate levels plus the tomb chapel further below. The lower basilica does not have ceilings as high as is usual in cathedrals, so may feel incongruously claustrophobic, but it is decorated all over the walls and ceiling with fantastic frescoes and patterns. The upper basilica is more traditional in size and ceiling height and also extensively decorated, although some of the frescoes require restoration.
You will not miss the view over surrounding countryside from the gallery running away from upper basilica. Surprisingly, while the city sits on the side of the mountain, the valley below is flat for a number of miles.
Other churches would be highlights in any other town, but they cannot help but pale in comparison to San Francesco. Nonetheless, they are worth a look, more or less traditional in design and ornamentation. We visited Basilica di Santa Chiara ♥, Chiesa di Santa Maria sopra Minerva ♥, Cattedrale di San Rufino ♥, and a couple of smaller ones.
The castle of Rocca Maggiore and Pinacoteca Comunale are other attractions that did not fit into our schedule but could be of interest.
Places to Eat
La Lanterna ♥♥ is located on a narrow pedestrian passage in the vicinity of Piazza del Comune. Quite serene setting on the outside veranda during quieter times. Nice service, probably enabled by the aforementioned quieter times – the inside dining room is very large, and when the place is busy the service may or may not remain as prompt. A very good menu. Our choices of bruschette miste, penne with truffles and sausages, ravioli with eggplant and ricotta, and some other pasta with mushrooms and truffles were all amazing. Our damage: €61 for three with a bottle of wine.
There are several lots outside of town walls. The most convenient for San Francesco is the multi-story underground lot at Piazzale 27 Ottobre.