MARCUS TRAVEL JOURNAL

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ASSISI

Our first visit to Assisi was back in 1994. I remember driving towards the town, it is visible from miles away. (You can take a train from Perugia but the station is 5 km away from the centre of town so you will have to use connecting buses.) This is a hill top town, there are three large car parks lots located below the city. Karen was impressed as the one we picked had a series of escalators that will take you up to the top of the hill. You will appreciate those on the hot sunny days in Umbria Most of the city is closed to traffic so you will be able to enjoy your walk about the town.

Assisi is known as the the place of the country's patron saint and known as Il Poverello, the Little Poor One. When we returned to Assisi as few years later, our friends were just as excited as visiting Assisi as the Vatican. It ranks right up there!

It was in Assisi that, in 1987 Pope Paul called together representatives of the world's religions to meet and pray together.

Assisi is busy much of the year by during Easter week there are processions that bring literally thousands to the town. The first ten days of May also hold the Calendimaggio which is a medieval May Day celebration that is quite popular.

Once on the top, narrow streets are lined with large old buildings and monks seem to be walking about everywhere.

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The Basilica St. Francisian is very impressive. Francis has asked to be buried on the Infernal Hill, located just outside the walls of the city. This was were the criminals were buried. After FRancis was canonized (1228) work became on the basilica and the hill was re-christened the Hill of Paradise. Pope Gregory IX laid the cornerstone of the basilica.

Our trip in 1994 was before the damage that occurred a few years later. When we returned in 2001 we were impressed. It was hard to see the damage. In the Lower Church there are frescoes everywhere all done by the masters from the 13th and 14th century. The lower level just hits you with details. Below this is another sub-level with another chapel and the remains of Saint Francisian.

Where the Lower Church impresses with it dark and frescoed-covered walls, the Upper Church is bright and quite airy. There are frescoes also, depicting the life of St. Francis.