The arches of Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi with the Italian town of Assisi in the background
Photo by Chris Armstrong  –  Link



The stunning hilltop town of Assisi is located in Italy's Umbria region, known for its wooded landscapes, medieval architecture and top-notch cuisine (truffles, anyone?) . It's about halfway between Rome and Florence, making it the perfect town to visit on a trip around Italy. As the birthplace of Saint Francis, it's also an important Franciscan pilgrimage destination.

While Assisi was first occupied way back in 1000 BC, most of the buildings you'll see here are well-preserved relics of the Middle Ages. The imposing 12th-century Rocca Maggiore castle is an ever-present fixture in the skyline, towering over the city and plains below. And the impressive Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, built in the 13th century, is a palatial building dedicated to Saint Francis, founder of the Franciscan order. The UNESCO-listed basilica is divided into two large churches that are built into the hill, resulting in a grandiose and ornate building that's a true feast for the eyes.

But Assisi isn't just great to look at; the atmosphere and culture here are fantastic, too. Wander through the centre of town and pop into the artisan shops selling craft goods and handmade wares. If you visit during wintertime, you'll get to experience the popular Christmas markets, featuring lots of food stalls and nativity scenes decorating the whole city.