ASSISI in Italy stretches out on the slopes of the Monte Subasio, above the plain where the Topino and Chiascio rivers flow.
Although it can boast Roman origins, its present-day appearance, because of the buildings and also the urban structure, is surely due to the city’s development during the Middle Ages.
Assisi’s oldest nucleus, which is protected by a defensive apparatus made up of eight fortified entrance portals and a long belt of town walls, which are still perfectly preserved, is topped by two castles on peak of the mountain: the Major Castle, reconstructed by the Cardinal Albornoz in 1367 and the Minor Castle. Apart from religious buildings too important to not be considered solely the heritage of Assisi such as the basilica of St. Francis, the tourist can also visit the churches of St. Clare and St.Peter.
The first was constructed in the Gothic style between 1257 and 1265, the second is a little older and decorated with an elegant middle portal with three rose-windows. The Cathedral, dedicated to the Patron Saint St. Rufino, vaunts a splendid and unaltered facade with sculptures and reliefs; the interior, however, has undergone much reconstruction during the centuries which have distorted the original project dating back to the 13th century. On the Town Square situated on the ancient Forum, you will find the Priors’ Palace (1337), the Palace of the People’s Captain (12th century) and the temple of Minerva, built during the augustean period with pronaos, columms and corinthian capitals which are still intact.
Nearby, places which are connected with the life of St. Francis can be visited, sich as the Eremitage of the Prisons, immersed in a thick wood of oaks and ilex on the slopes of the Subasio Mountain, and the convent of St. Damian, which was built up around the oratory were, according to tradition, the Cross spoke to the Saint. Finally, in the plain, the impressive basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels was built according to the plans of Alessi between 1569 and 1679 to protect the Porziuncola Chapel, which was the first simple meeting-place of the Francescan brotherhood.
All those who have the good luck of visiting this splendid town have to agree with who says that the beauty of town goes beyond a short, and necessarily incomplete list of works of art more or less extraordinary, but is however to be found in the atmosphere of places which the story and the faith of the Saint have rendered unique all over the world.
SPELLO rises up between Assisi and Foligno, situated on a spur of the Subasio Mountain above a fertile and well-irrigated plain.
Among the neighbouring cities, this is surely the one which preserves the major number of monuments testifying to the Roman era; for example, the town walls, which later became the foundations for the medieval walls, the ruins of the theater and the amphitheater, the thermal baths and the splendid town portals Porta Consolare, Porta Urbica and Porta Venere dating back to the Augustean era. In ascent, you’ll arrive at the church of St. Mary Maggiore built Between the 11th and 12th centuries, which, even if it can boast a beautiful facade riconstructed with antique materials in 1644 at the same time as other architectonic modificatione were undertaken, guards its most precious treausure inside. In fact, the marvellous Baglioni Chapel is to be found on the left-hand side of the nave. with its paintings by Pinturicchio showing the “Annunciation”, the “Nativity” scene and the “Dispute at the Temple”, among other frescoes by the same painter which are to be found the chapels under the cross vaults and paintings by Perugino on the pilasters of the entrance to the presbytery. Close by, it is possible to visit the church of St. Andrew (13th century), which contains the painting of the “Madonna and the Saints” by Pinturicchio. Don’t forget to take a look at the Town Hall in Piazza della Repubblica with its beautiful ogival portico, and the church of St. Laurence with the remains of the older building dating back to the 12th century. Looking out from the ruins of the Castle (14th century) which is situated on top of the hill, one dominates the valley of the Topino river and all of the surrounding hillside. Just outside of the inhabited area you’ll find the Romanic church of St. Claudius and the “Chiesa Tonda” which was built during the Renaissance period in the form of a Greek cross with an octagonal cupola.
Assisi and Spello
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