Definitions

clara assisi

Assisi

[uh-see-zee; It. ahs-see-zee]

Assisi (or /əˈsiːsi/) (Latin: Asisium), is a town in Italy in province of Perugia, Italy, in the Umbria region, on the western flank of Mt. Subasio. It is the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born in Assisi.

History

Around 1000 BC a wave of immigrants settled in the upper Tiber valley as far as the Adriatic Sea and also in the neighbourhood of Assisi. These were the Umbrians, living in small fortified settlements on high ground. From 450 BC these settlements were gradually taken over by the Etruscans. The Romans took control of central Italy by the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. They built the flourishing municipium Asisium on a series of terraces on Mount Subasio. Remains from these Roman times can still be found in Assisi : city walls, the forum (now Piazza del Comune), a theatre, an amphitheatre and the Temple of Minerva (now transformed into the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva).

In 238 AD Assisi was converted to Christianity by bishop Rufino, who was martyred at Costano. According to tradition, his remains rest in the Cathedral Church of San Rufino in Assisi.

The Ostrogoths of king Totila destroyed most of the town in 545. Assisi then came under the rule of the Lombards and later the Frankish Duchy of Spoleto.

The thriving city became an independent Ghibelline commune in the 11th century. Constantly struggling with the Guelph Perugia, it was during one of those battles, the battle at Ponte San Giovanni, that Francesco di Bernardone, (Saint Francis of Assisi), was taken prisoner, setting in motion the events that eventually led him to live as a beggar, renounce the world and establish the Order of Friars Minor.

The Rocca Maggiore, the imperial fortress on top of the hill above the city, was plundered by the people in 1189, but rebuilt in 1367 on orders of the papal delegate, cardinal Gil de Albornoz.

The city, which had remained within the confines of the Roman walls, began to expand outside these walls in the 13th century. In this period the city was under papal jurisdiction.

In the beginning Assisi fell under the rule of Perugia and later under several despots, such as the soldier of fortune Biordo Michelotti, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, duke of Milan, Francesco I Sforza, another duke of Milan, Jacopo Piccinino and Federico II da Montefeltro, lord of Urbino. The city went into a deep decline through the plague of the Black death in 1348 AD.

The city came again under papal jurisdiction under the rule of Pope Pius II (1458-1464).

In 1569 construction was started of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. During the renaissance and later centuries, the city continued to develop peacefully, attested by the 17th-century palaces of the Bernabei and Giacobetti.

Now the site of many a pilgrimage, Assisi is linked in legend with its native son, St. Francis. The gentle saint founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy. He is remembered by many, even non-Christians, as a lover of nature (his preaching to an audience of birds is one of the legends of his life).

Assisi was hit by the devastating twin earthquakes that shook Umbria in 1997, but the recovery and restoration have been remarkable, although much remains to be done. Massive damage was caused to many historical sites, but the major attraction, the Basilica di San Francesco, reopened less than two years later.

Main sights

Churches

Other landmarks

The town is dominated by two medieval castles. The larger, called Rocca Maggiore, is a massive presence meant to intimidate the people of the town: it was built by Cardinal Albornoz (1367) and added to by Popes Pius II and Paul III. The smaller of the two was built much earlier, in the Roman Era. However, not all of it stands, and only a small portion and three towers are open to the public.

UNESCO collectively designated the major monuments and urban fabric of Assisi as a World Heritage Site.

Culture

Festival Calendimaggio, May 1st-5th: re-enactment of medieval and renaissance life in the form of a challenge between the upper faction and the lower faction of the town. With processions, theatrical presentations, flag-weavers and dance.

Assisi Embroidery is a form of counted-thread embroidery which has been practised in Assisi since the 13th century.

Today the town has many groups coming to enjoy the simple peace of St. Francis. One such group has restored an 11th century room and added altars to the world's religions. Pilgrims come from many countries to the Assisi East West Retreat Center in Piazza San Rufino in the spirit of St. Francis to sit and be in peace.

Saints

Assisi was the home of many saints. They include:

Frazioni

Armenzano, Capodacqua, Castelnuovo, Costa di Trex, Colle delle Forche, Morra, Palazzo di Assisi, Paradiso, Passaggio d'Assisi, Petrignano d'Assisi, Pieve San Nicolò, Porziano, Rivotorto, Rocca Sant'Angelo, San Damiano, San Gregorio, Santa Maria degli Angeli, Santa Maria Lignano, San Vitale, Sterpeto, Torchiagina, Tordandrea, Tordibetto, Viole.

Twin cities

Photo gallery

External links


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