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Jayaram Krishnaswamy

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Visit to Assisi the birth place of St. Francis

September 27, 2017

We left Orvieto early in the morning after breakfast. It was another blessed, beautiful day.  Most of the tourist attractions are in Orvieto on the Hill. Buses do not run here, and we took the elevators down to Orvieto in the foot hills.

The drive from Orvieto was very pleasant following the ups and downs of the Umbrian valley.
Assisi in Umbria is about 57 miles east of Orvieto and the birth place of St. Francis of Assisi.

It has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Situated on the slopes of Mount Subasio at an altitude of 1300', it has commanding views of the Topino and Chaiscio river valleys.

St. Francis is the patron saint of Italy and founded the Franciscan order. He was born here, and the city was blessed by him as depicted in the arch of the entrance of the town. The region of Umbria including Assisi appears always to be associated with the Etruscan who inhabited these regions but only few relics are left.

We arrived at the foot hills of Assisi and went up using the escalators. We passed through the main entrance of the town after walking through shops selling religious paraphernalia, toys, scarves etc.

We passed under the flying buttresses of St. Claire's church to stand in front of the church beside a large beautiful fountain. Out guide explained the background and history.

We followed our guide next, to the Roman ruins, the temple of Minerva presently the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. I looked up and down, may be some went in.

It was too early for lunch and we proceeded to visit the Basilica. After some more walking the cobbled, narrow streets either side of which were shops, restaurants and residences we arrived at the Piazza of BASÍLICA SUPERIOR DE SAN FRANCISCO EN ASÍS. The Basilica has a beautiful facade, much smaller than the one at Orvieto and stands in an imposing corner of the Piazza Superiore de Basilica de Santa Francesco.

The basilica is in two parts, the upper and lower and they are connected internally as well as externally. This 13th Century Basilica is the main attraction of the town and the focus of pilgrims. St. Francis' relics are preserved here as well as the beautiful frescoes depicting his life and miracles. The upper basilica where we entered has all the frescoes by several artists, Cimabue (Scenes from New Testament, Crucifixion), Giotto (“The Life of St. Francis,”), Pietro Lorenzetti and others. Most of them deal with life and work of the saint and the miracles.

You can leave the upper basilica from where you entered or take the stairs to the lower basilica. In the lower basilica you go down further to the crypt where St. Francis is laid (1230). From the lower basilica you walkdown corridors to enter Piazza Inferiore de San Francisco en ASÍS before exiting to the streets passing through arches. The Piazza Inferiore is quite impressive.

By the time we finished it was getting to be 2:00 PM or so and we decided to have lunch. Since we were on our own for lunch and dinner, we entered a restaurant which had gilded chairs and somewhat gaudy decorations. The food was better than we expected as it was already too late for lunch, the owner was quite accommodating.

We gathered for departure from Assisi and we boarded the bus which took us to St. Mary's church at the foot hills (Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli). This was the place where the Franciscan movement started. Built in the Mannerist style this is supposed to be the 7th largest Christian church. The top most part of the façade has the gold-plated statue of 'Madonna of the Angels'.

We entered the church and our guide showed us the 'Porziuncola' (the little closed enclosure inside the church) and its little church, most sacred of the Franciscans. We also visited the small room where St. Francis died. We then entered the Rose Garden passing through the sacristy. we skipped the museum, may be some in our group did visit the museum.

After the church we drove to a ceramic shop for our demonstration. It was quite interesting as it was the first time for me to see them preparing painting and glazing the ceramics before they are fired in a furnace.

We left after doing some shopping in the ceramic shop and reached Orvieto. We decided to climb up the tunnel and there were no steps but emerged by the side of the Cathedral. We went back to the hotel and took some rest.

Later we dined at a nearby cafe, Café Montanucci. Food was much better than expected and we met folks travelling with the Rick Steve’s group.

Tomorrow we will be leaving Orvieto and head towards Tuscany, on the way we do a lunch stop over at Perugia. After Perugia we move to the next of our bases at Hotel Borgo di Cortefreda.

More photos on You Tube here:

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Jayaram Krishnaswamy is a technical writer, mostly writing articles that are related to the web and databases. He is the author of SQL Server Integration Services published by Packt Publishers in the UK. His book, 'Learn SQL Server Reporting Services 2008' was also published by Packt Publishers Inc, Birmingham. 3. "Microsoft SQL Azure Enterprise Application Development" (Dec 2010) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 4. "Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development [Paperback] "(2011) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 5. "Learning SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 [Paperback]" (June 2013) was Published by Packt Publishing Inc. Visit his blogs at: http://hodentek.blogspot.com http://hodentekHelp.blogspot.com http://hodnetekMSSS.blogspot.com http://hodnetekMobile.blogspot.com He writes articles on several topics to many sites.