Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pink stone in village of peace

Now in Perugia, I was determined to visit the nearby town of St. Francis - Assisi. It's only a few miles up on the road from the hostel where I was staying (another attractive villa in large grounds) and so I arrived by mid-morning.

As I approached Assisi, I enountered the most enormous basilica. This was Santa Maria dei Angeli. It was so impressive, I imagined this was Assisi itself. Besides being a magnificient building in its own right, what I found unusual was it contained a second tiny - and obviously very old - church. The basilica  appeared to have been built to contain and protect the orignal older church.

Turned out what I believed to be a small church was in fact Francis' very first monastery and it was here that St Clare made her vows. People visiting were very respectful of the space - reverential, even. One felt that here one was walking on holy ground.

Three miles further on and I entered Assisi proper. It is impossible to enter by car but, as ever, I was able to park the Honda close by without upsetting the authorities.

The village is incredibly well preserved. This is true of many Italian towns and villages of course, but in Assisi the impact is obvious. Each buildng, each street, each fountain has been well maintained with sensitivity to the local building style and use of materials. The predominant stone here is pink coloured and I  felt  strongly  in touch with my feminine side as I strolled through the town streets!

The largest church in the town (there are several) is that of San Francesco. Its inside walls and ceilings  are completely covered in frescoes on a range of religious subjects. This church, like S. Maria dei Angeli, also contained a surprise - it is in fact two churches, with one built directy over the other. The lower one is particularly striking. I found it intimate and wonderfully painted throughout; it would take many visits to make out all the images and scenes on walls and ceilings. An ideal pastime to counter a boring sermon.

Again, a sense of respect for the place pervaded the visiting crowds. There was no loud shouting in the streets and in the religious spaces, silence was maintained. Impressive.


  1. Well worth the detour by the looks of things, John. I wonder what St Francis would make of Assisi today.

  2. I fancy he'd be astonished at the cleanliness of it all, Miles!