Assisi e Spoleto

Day 12 – Assisi e Spoleto

Daily Wrap-Up

One Word
  • Barb: Lofty
  • Mike: Wow!
  • Jen: Vivid
Two Words
  • Barb: Lower church
  • Mike: Roman bridge
  • Jen: Inlaid seats
Three or Four Words
  • Barb: On a grand scale
  • Mike: Hill ergo town
  • Jen: Blue-green tie-dye ceiling
One Sentence
  • Barb: I’d like to observe these medieval and renaissance artists and craftsmen at work.
  • Mike: Look, there’s an empty space; let’s decorate it or put some piece of impossibly ornate furniture there.
  • Jen: If there were a heaven for masons, it would look like Italy.


Today we visited the Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi, the Basilica of St. Francis. Francis died in Assisi on October 3, 1226. Not two years later, plans were underway for the construction of a church in his honor.

The view as we approach Assisi

Nearing Assisi. The Basilica is on the left side of the image, behind and above the building with a long row of arches.

As we approached Assisi, I dubbed it the hill town that couldn’t (reach the top of the hill). Lucky for us, it managed to survive despite this deficiency.

Basilica of St. Francis Exterior

The square outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. Rather modest and plain as basilicas go.

The relatively modest exterior did not prepare me for the interior.

Basilica of St. Francis Upper Church Interior

Interior of the upper church at the Basilica of St. Francis. Oh, my!

The whole thing is beautiful, vivid, bright, and much too full and busy to absorb or process in a single short visit, but a few isolated bits made big impressions. The ceiling, for instance. Damage to the blue color has resulted in a blue-green tie-dye effect that I love. It looks space-y, just right for a high ceiling.

I spent a lot of time studying the gorgeous inlaid-wood backs of the choir stalls, too. Each one was different. And, as usual, I was attracted to the fill patterns between story images, along arches, decorating altars, on the floor, etc.

Interior of the lower church at the Basilica of St. Francis

Interior of the lower church at the Basilica of St. Francis.

The lower church is cozier, with lower ceilings, but painted wall-to-wall with busy and bright story pictures and fillings. I’ve enjoyed the other churches we’ve seen, but this one is easily my favorite at this stage.

I can’t help but wonder, though, what St. Francis would think of it. My guess is that he’d not be happy to have his name associated with it: he was all about humility and poverty and simplicity. That’s not at all what this church is about.

No Photos

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the church. Some churches allow photos, others do not. I appreciate the ones that permit photos because it’s the only way I stand a chance of remembering what’s where.

We think that one reason churches say no to photos is because they want to sell postcards, i.e., make money. But sometimes the postcard images aren’t very good or are not of what I want to remember. Often, stalls or shops that sell postcards in the churches aren’t even open when we’re there.

The interior pictures here are postcards we bought and then photographed. They’re good pictures and will help me remember some of my favorite parts of the church, but I would prefer to have more images of the details that appealed to me.

St. Peters—the Pope’s church— allows visitors to take photos. I consider that setting a precedent, and I wish other churches would follow suit.

Monk-y Business

The town of Assisi—what we saw of it—is full of shops selling monk-y chachkis.

Window display of monk-related chachkis

Window display of monk-y chachkis in Assisi. Ain’t that a corker? Come on, you know you want that garter-wearing, karaoke-singing nun and her piano-playing monk friend. It goes with any room decor, right?

The perfect gift for the nun/monk who has everything.

St. Francis would love these, too, I suspect.


The town of Spoleto beyond the castle wall

The town of Spoleto beyond the castle wall.

The next stop on today’s tour was Spoleto, an area inhabited since prehistoric times. The lower part of the protective wall dates back to the 6th century BC, and the Roman settlement of Spoletium began in 241 BC.

It’s a town on a hill with a wall and a castle…and this:

Ponte delle Torri or Bridge of Towers

Ponte delle Torri or Bridge of Towers. This is a medieval bridge built on the foundation of a Roman aqueduct.

This is a 14th century bridge built over the foundation of a Roman aqueduct. It’s about 750 feet long and 262 feet above the gorge at the highest point. Across the bridge is a fortification tower. We enjoyed great views of the valley as we walked across the bridge.

Categories: Italy, Travel

4 replies »

  1. Are those chicken pitchers in Assisi? What a fabulous array of funky Francis-inspired ware!
    Really enjoying your collaborative word and sentence structure, and the fun, like-one-is-there-with-you writing. Thanks Jen!

  2. Those are, indeed, Francis-inspired chicken pitchers. Francis preached to the birds, after all. AHA! Maybe those souvenirs are for the birds!

    Thanks for reading along with us, Suzy. Next time, though, I hope you will be with us, coming up with your own summary words, or whatever we do next time.