Things to do in Assisi

Things to do in  Assisi

All the patience of a saint

Birthplace of both Saint Francis and Saint Clare, Assisi is one of the most atmospheric medieval hill towns in Italy. Pilgrims and art lovers travel here to admire the UNESCO-listed Basilica of Saint Francis and its groundbreaking fresco cycle by Giotto, but the town is also a treasure trove of Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and sacred Franciscan sites. In the surrounding hills of Umbria, the scenic patchwork of vineyards, olive groves, and farmland is a paradise for wine tours and tastings, cooking lessons, truffle hunts, and home dining experiences.

Top 8 attractions in Assisi

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)

Birthplace of St. Francis and one of Italy’s most atmospheric hill towns, Assisi is best known for its glorious Basilica of St. Francis. The UNESCO-listed pilgrimage site is a treasure trove of medieval art. Visit the soaring upper church, the somber lower church, and Francis’ tomb in the crypt.More

Basilica of St. Francis (Basilica di San Francesco)

The Basilica of St. Francis (Basilica di San Francesco), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Assisi, is a popular European pilgrimage site. The complex of two churches commemorates Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, who is buried here. Plans for the basilica commenced upon his death in 1226 and were completed in 1253.More

Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara)

Francis may be more famous, but Assisi was the birthplace of another extraordinary saint: Clare, founder of the Order of Saint Clares and one of the most ardent early followers of Francis. This soaring basilica dedicated to this important female saint is one of the most magnificent in Assisi, and home to her remains and sacred relics.More

Assisi Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli)

Like the architectural version of a Russian doll, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a church within a church. The grand basilica, one of the largest in the world, was built over and around the tiny 13th-century Porziuncola, a humble stone chapel where St. Francis founded his order and began the first Franciscan community.More

Chiesa Nuova

The medieval hill town of Assisi is best known for the magnificent Basilica of Saint Francis, but this UNESCO-listed landmark isn’t the only important church. Despite its name, Chiesa Nuova (or New Church is one of Assisi’s most historically significant churches, constructed in the 17th century to mark Saint Francis’ birthplace.More

Pozzo della Cava

The clifftop town of Orvieto sits above a hidden warren of tunnels and caverns dug through soft tufa bedrock from the time of the Etruscans to the 20th century. Discover this underground network with a visit to Pozzo della Cava, an Etruscan well enlarged in the 16th century that leads to ancient caves, kilns, and a cistern.More

Temple of Minerva (Tempio di Minerva)

Long before Saint Francis was born in Assisi, ancient Romans inhabited Asisium, as the town was known for millennia. A striking testimony to these Roman roots is the handsome Temple of Minerva, which has the most intact Roman temple facade in Italy and is a must for Roman architecture enthusiasts.More

Porziuncola Museum (Museo della Porziuncola)

Part of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli complex, the Porziuncola Museum (Museo della Porziuncola) is a repository of artwork and archival documents related to St. Francis. Pilgrims, art aficionados, and those wanting to take a deeper dive into the saint’s life and teachings will enjoy this small but exceptional collection.More

Top activities in Assisi

Private St. Francis Basilica of Assisi and City Walking Tour
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Share your Pasta Love: Small group Pasta and Tiramisu class in Assisi
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Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi - Private Tour
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Private Cooking Class with Lunch or Dinner in Assisi
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Wine and Cheeses

Wine and Cheeses

Assisi, the town of Saint Francis - Private Walking Tour
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All about Assisi

When to visit

As the birthplace of St. Francis, Assisi has been a pilgrimage hotspot for almost 800 years. The hilltop town’s lively summer season is bookended by Easter, in the spring, and the Feast Day of St. Francis, in the fall (on October 4). If you’re looking for secular fun, visit for the raucous Calendimaggio medieval festival, which takes place on the first weekend of May. You’ll enjoy costumed processions, historical music, and a merry atmosphere that culminates in a Friday night pyrotechnic show in the main Piazza del Comune.

Getting around

Assisi’s historic center is quite compact and easy to get around on foot, but the steep streets will give your calves a workout. If you prefer public transportation, you can take the minibuses that serve the area. FS BusItalia has routes that connect the old town to the town Santa Maria degli Angeli, in the valley below (where the train station and Porziuncola are located). There are also taxi stands at the train station and in the main squares.

Traveler tips

Crowds of day trippers flood Assisi during the religious holidays and much of the summer, but the city has a quiet respite just steps from the most popular tourist spots. Walk through a small doorway in the stone wall lining the Upper Basilica lawn, and you’ll find yourself in the Bosco di San Francesco, a National Trust woodland. Follow quiet, shaded trails downhill to a 12th-century monastery (now a visitor center), then relax over a rustic lunch at a historic mill-turned-trattoria nearby.


A local’s pocket guide to Assisi

Rebecca Winke

Rebecca uses the hill town of Assisi as her base for travel and food writing around the rest of Italy. The lavender-lined terraces of the main Piazza del Comune is her favorite spot to sip on a spritz.

The first thing you should do in Assisi is...

save your calves and start your visit from the top (the Piazza Matteotti bus stop and parking garage), working your way downhill to the Basilica of St. Francis.

A perfect Saturday in Assisi...

kicks off with a custard-filled “mimma” pastry at Bar Sensi, followed by a stroll through the market. Grab an al fresco lunch table at Piazzetta delle Erbe and end the day with a sunset view from Piazza Santa Chiara.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Basilica of St. Francis, a richly frescoed architectural masterpiece that well deserves its UNESCO nod as a World Heritage Site.

To discover the "real" Assisi...

step away from the crowded basilica and into the deserted alleys and staircases that wind their way through the medieval old town.

For the best view of the city...

head up to the Rocca fortress at the very top of Assisi, where you can get a bird's-eye view across the town’s steeples, domes, and rooftops to the valley below.

One thing people get wrong...

Assisi is not only for religious tourists. The town also has spectacular Roman ruins, excellent dining, and lovely ateliers showcasing local artists.

People Also Ask

What is Assisi known for?

Saint Francis of Assisi was born in this Umbrian hill town in the 12th century and is the town’s draw 800-plus years later. The headliner is the UNESCO-listed Basilica of St. Francis and its Giotto-school frescoes depicting the saint’s life, but the old town is thick with Franciscan sites.

How do you spend a day in Assisi?

Head straight to the Basilica of St. Francis to marvel at its frescoes and pause in the saint’s crypt. Afterwards, browse the artisan shops, admire the ancient Temple of Minerva in Piazza del Comune, visit the Basilica of St. Clare, and meander the old town’s maze of pedestrian lanes.

What’s the best way to visit Assisi?

Assisi is both compact and very steep, so visit on foot but take your time to tackle the hills. There is a public bus between the Basilica of St. Francis and the main square, but strolling up Via San Francesco to check out the shops is part of the fun.

How long is the Assisi pilgrimage?

Assisi marks the middle point of the St. Francis’ Way, a pilgrimage route that begins in La Verna and stretches more than 300 miles (500 kilometers) south through Umbria to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It takes at least three weeks to complete the entire route on foot.

What do pilgrims do at Assisi?

Most pilgrims focus on the top Franciscan sites in Assisi, including the Basilica of St. Francis, Basilica of St. Clare, Cathedral of San Rufino, and Chiesa Nuova. The outlying Eremo delle Carceri hermitage, Church of San Damiano, and Porziuncola are also important pilgrimage destinations.

Is Assisi near Rome?

No, but Assisi is an easy day trip from Rome. The town is located about 100 miles (170 kilometers) north of Italy’s capital city and there are direct trains that run several times each day, making the trip in about 2.5 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions