Assisi, Italy: a full day of pilgrimage to many churches of St. Francis and St. Clare

We started early this morning, trying to get the good light and take photos before the herds of tourists arrived. We followed Rick Steve’s Assisi walking tour, listening to it on my phone.  Of course, with Linda taking photos we only got half way by 1 pm.  Assisi was a thriving town in the 13th century, but then had a bout of the black death in the beginning of the 14th century and time pretty much stood still.  Luckily, the favorite son and daughter (St. Francis and St. Clare) became famous saints right after their deaths, so this town became a pilgrimage hot spot over the centuries (it still is today for some people).  Here is a typical street scene that was probably the same since the 14th century.Assisi Italy 4 30 15 street scene smallWe started at the top of town and walked by the medieval laundry spot.  Here is the faucet coming out of the wall and filling up a large basin to wash in.  I image the women of the town doing laundry and catching up on the town gossip.Assisi Italy laundry fountain close up smallThere are many images of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child and other religious scenes on the walls all around the town.  Here are a couple of my favorites.Assisi Italy madonna wall small Assisi Italy stained glass window smallWe went into the basilica of St. Clare to see the simple yet beautiful style of religious decor. Assisi Italy alter stAnd then we did a little shopping.  We are only buying a few small things, since we cannot pack anything else.  I got a couple of my favorite St. Francis prayer on a tiny wood plaque, and a lovely pink long scarf for me.  My entire wardrobe is black (everything matches) and I use scarves to vary the looks (I am still a woman, even if the camera seems to grow out of my right hand).  We met Alessandro Grimaldi in his shop (Galleria d’ Arte Perna , number 20 on Corso Mazzini) where he sells his brother Paolo’s medieval fantasy townscape paintings.  They are really quite inventive and priced right to collect.  Assisi Italy Alessandro Grimaldi small_edited-1Being right in the middle of town is great.  At 1pm we were hot and tired, so we just popped up the steep hill, ran up the 50 steps and flopped on the bed.  A shower and a short 50-minute nap, and off we went.

We found Chiesa Nuova, the church on top of the place where St. Francis’ family lived.  And down the street we stumbled upon this lovely, very plain, St. Stefano’s church.  According to  Wikipedia “The building, in Romanesque style, was erected between the 12th and the 13th century and feature simple lines. Like other churches in the town, the facade and the walls were left without decorations. The interior, which has maintained much of the original medieval appearance, has a single nave with Gothic arches, small windows and a wooden ceiling.”  It was like stepping back in time to St. Francis’ time when this plain edifice Assisi Italy St Stefano  church 12th century smallwas his neighborhood church.  We finally made it to St. Francis’ basilica, which was huge and very baroque in decor.  Although beautiful, it was hard to imagine St. Francis’ philosophy of simplicity and nature being in tune with this immense and elegant building.  We went to Mass at 6pm right above St. Francis’ tomb.  It was a very moving experience for David and me. Then we made the long walk up hill to the top of town where our apartment is situated.  Why is it always steeper when you’re going uphill? We did 15,000 steps today and were very happy to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches to eat out on the balcony and watch the sunset through the 13th century bell tower that we face. Assisi Italy sunset tower horz small

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