Assisi: The Complete Guide


When UNESCO inscribed the Franciscan attractions in Assisi as a World Heritage Site, it highlighted the city’s significant influence on both religious expression and European art history. This intertwining of religious and artistic heritage makes Assisi a must-visit for tourists. As the birthplace of St. Francis and the center of his life’s work, Assisi is deeply connected with the Franciscan order he established. His life and legacy inspired renowned artists such as Giotto, Cimabue, Andrea da Bologna, and Simone Martini, whose works in the basilica dedicated to St. Francis have narrated his story to the faithful for centuries.

Beyond its rich artistic treasures, Assisi’s charming medieval streets and the impressive castle atop this Umbrian hill town are not to be missed. The main street, Via San Francesco, leads from the basilica into the town center, where it becomes Via Arnaldo Fortini. Here, visitors interested in shopping will find ample opportunities, particularly for the high-quality leather goods Assisi, like Florence, is known for.

History of Assisi

Assisi, a picturesque town in the Umbria region of Italy, boasts a rich history that spans thousands of years, deeply entwined with religious, cultural, and artistic developments in Europe. Here is a brief overview of its historical journey:

Ancient Origins

  • Pre-Roman and Roman Periods: The area around Assisi was inhabited by the Umbrians, an ancient Italic tribe, before becoming a Roman colony in 295 BC. The Romans called it Asisium, and it developed into a thriving town with temples, theaters, and other significant structures.

Middle Ages

  • Early Christianity: With the decline of the Roman Empire, Assisi, like many other towns, faced invasions and turmoil. However, it began to flourish again as Christianity spread through the region.
  • St. Francis of Assisi: The most pivotal period in Assisi’s history came in the late 12th and early 13th centuries with the birth of St. Francis in 1181 or 1182. Born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, he became one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity. Renouncing his wealth, St. Francis founded the Franciscan Order, emphasizing poverty, humility, and a love for all creation.
  • St. Clare: Another significant religious figure, St. Clare of Assisi, founded the Order of Poor Clares under the guidance of St. Francis. Her influence added to Assisi’s spiritual and religious significance.

Renaissance and Beyond

  • Artistic Flourishing: The construction of the Basilica of St. Francis began in 1228, shortly after his canonization. This basilica, divided into an upper and lower church, became a center for Christian art, featuring works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti. These artists’ frescoes in the basilica greatly influenced the course of European art.
  • Papal States: During the Renaissance, Assisi, like much of central Italy, was under the control of the Papal States. This period saw both flourishing artistic achievements and political struggles.

Modern Era

  • 19th and 20th Centuries: Assisi remained relatively peaceful and maintained its religious significance. In the 19th century, it became part of the unified Kingdom of Italy. During World War II, Assisi was remarkably spared from significant damage. It also became a refuge for many, including Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, with the Franciscan friars and local citizens playing crucial roles in their protection.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Late 20th Century: Recognizing its profound religious, artistic, and historical significance, UNESCO declared Assisi and its surrounding area a World Heritage Site in 2000. The designation highlights the town’s impact on both spiritual movements and the arts throughout history.

Present Day

  • Tourism and Pilgrimage: Today, Assisi is a major destination for tourists and pilgrims from around the world. Visitors come to explore its historical sites, including the Basilica of St. Francis, the Basilica of St. Clare, and the Eremo delle Carceri, a hermitage where St. Francis retreated for prayer. The town’s medieval character has been well preserved, allowing visitors to experience its historical and spiritual legacy fully.

Assisi’s rich history, from ancient times through the rise of Christianity to its current status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, underscores its lasting importance as a center of faith, culture, and art.

Visiting Assisi for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Assisi on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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17 Best places to See in Assisi

This complete guide to Assisi not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Assisi and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Anfiteatro Romano, Assisi

Roman Arena, Assisi
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jan Hazevoet
The Roman amphitheatre of Assisi is situated in the district of Porta Perlici, one of the eight historic gates of the city. Although much of the ancient structure has not survived, a notable remnant is a wedge of the travertine arch. The amphitheatre dates back to the first half of the first century A.D. Its […]
Location: Via Teatro Romano, Assisi, PG 06081, 06081 Assisi PG, Italy | Distance: 0.10km
Visiting Anfiteatro Romano, Assisi

We recommend to rent a car in Italy through Discover Cars, they compare prices and review multiple car rental agencies. Book your rental car here.

Cattedrale di San Rufino di Assisi

Cattedrale Di San Rufino Di Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Fczarnowski
Emerging from the labyrinthine alleys east of Town Hall Square, the Cathedral, known as the “Duomo,” reveals its distinctive three-tiered Umbrian facade. Legend traces the origins of the church to around 412, intended to enshrine the relics of Saint Rufinus, Assisi’s inaugural bishop, martyred approximately 170 years earlier. Subsequent constructions followed, with the crypt and […]
Location: Cattedrale di Assisi, Piazza San Rufino, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: Diocesan Museum and Crypt of San Rufino open from 10.00 to 18.00 Closed: Wednesday, December 25th, January 1st Bell tower of San Rufino open from 10.00 to 11.30 and from 15.00 to 17.00 closed on Wednesdays and cannot be visited in case of rain or strong winds – ticket €1.50 | Price: €3.50 | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Cattedrale di San Rufino di Assisi

Explore Assisi yourself with our self-guided walking tour!

Diocesan Museum and San Rufino Crypt

Diocesan Museum And San Rufino Crypt
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Rufinus15
The Diocesan Museum of Assisi has been located inside the Palazzo dei Canonici, in front of the Cathedral of San Rufino, since 2006. Visitors can explore the evocative basement of the palace, which features the remains of a Romanesque cloister and the crypt of the “Ugonian Basilica” from the 11th century. This crypt is adorned […]
Location: Cathedral of San Rufino, Piazza San Rufino, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: Diocesan Museum and Crypt of San Rufino open from 10.00 to 18.00 Closed: Wednesday, December 25th, January 1st Bell tower of San Rufino open from 10.00 to 11.30 and from 15.00 to 17.00 closed on Wednesdays and cannot be visited in case of rain or strong winds – ticket €1.50 | Price: €3.50 | Distance: 0.20km
Visiting Diocesan Museum and San Rufino Crypt

Rocca Minore

Assisi - Rocca Minore
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Luca Aless
Perched on the hill to the right of Rocca Maggiore, once linked by traversable walls, stands another fortress, though relatively newer in comparison. Known as Rocchicciola or Cassero di Sant’Antonio, it derives its name from the nearby brotherhood of Sant’Antonio and San Giacomo, situated near the Capuchin gate beneath the fortress itself. These two strongholds […]
Location: Rocca Minore, Via Renzo Rosati, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Rocca Minore

Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi

Basilica Di Santa Chiara, Piazza Santa Chiara, Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Fczarnowski
Consecrated in 1265, this basilica serves as the final resting place of Saint Clare, a devout companion of Saint Francis and the founder of Franciscan nuns. Born into privilege in 1182, her deeply religious upbringing led her to reject her family’s wealth and two marriage proposals at just 17, choosing instead to join Francis in […]
Location: Basilica di Santa Chiara, Piazza Santa Chiara, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi

Casa natale di San Francesco

Casa Natale Di San Francesco
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Superchilum
This is believed to be the original site of the birth of Saint Francis of Assisi on July 5, 1182. Legend holds that his birthplace was once a stable, housing oxen and donkeys, where his mother sought refuge to give birth. The inscription above the pointed arch entry bears witness to this history, with the […]
Location: Casa Natale San Francesco d'Assisi, Piazza Chiesa Nuova, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.30km
Visiting Casa natale di San Francesco

Palazzo dei Priori, Assisi

Palazzo Dei Priori Assisi
Public Domain / Carlo Raso
The Palazzo dei Priori, the second building of the Municipal Palaces, has been documented as a magistracy in Assisi since 1320. In 1337, the priors of the gates acquired a house on the main square from the Florentine Company of the Bardi and constructed a vault that extends over the Palazzo del Popolo and crosses […]
Location: Palazzo dei Priori, Piazza del Comune, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Palazzo dei Priori, Assisi

Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Assisi

Assisi - Palazzo Del Capitano Del Popolo
CC BY-SA 3.0 / giomodica
The Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo is located at the corner of the upstream side of the square. In 1275, the Municipality of Assisi acquired nearby houses to establish a new headquarters for the Captain’s magistracy. By 1282, construction was completed, and Captain Guido de’ Rossi from Florence had his coat of arms placed between […]
Location: Torre del Popolo, Piazza del Comune, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: From November to February: 10.00am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.30pm) From March to October: 10.00am – 6.00pm (last entry 5.30pm) December 25: closed Opening hours of the Civic Tower: every day from 10.00 to 17.00 (last entry 16.30)| Price: €5 | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Assisi

Temple of Minerva, Assisi

Temple.of.Minerva Assissi
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Georges Jansoone
The Temple of Minerva in Assisi, Italy, is an ancient Roman structure that now serves as the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, constructed in 1539 and later renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century. Dating back to the 1st century BC, the temple was commissioned by Gnaeus Caesius and Titus Caesius Priscus, two […]
Location: Temple of Minerva, Piazza del Comune, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Temple of Minerva, Assisi

Rocca Maggiore

Rocca Maggiore Assissi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Hagai Agmon-Snir
The origins of Rocca Maggiore trace back to 1174, when it was reconstructed after the conquest of Assisi by the imperial troops under Christian of Mainz. Some believe it may have existed even during the Lombard era. It’s rumored that Frederick of Swabia, later Emperor Frederick II, once stayed there as a guest of Conrad […]
Location: Rocca Maggiore, Via della Rocca, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: From November to February: 10.00am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.15pm) March: 10.00 – 18.00 (last entry 17.15) April and May: 10.00am – 7.00pm (last entry 6.15pm) June and August: 10.00am – 8.00pm (last entry 7.15pm) September and October: 10.00am – 7.00pm (last entry 6.15pm) December 25: closed | Price: €8.00 | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Rocca Maggiore

Piazza del Comune, Assisi

Assisi, Province Of Perugia, Italy
CC BY-SA 32.0 / trolvag
At the heart of Assisi lies Piazza del Comune, a historic square believed by some to be the Roman Forum or an ancient sacred site, adding to its mystique. Regardless of its origins, this medieval square bustles with activity, offering an array of eateries perfect for indulging in some people-watching, albeit at a price. A […]
Location: Piazza del Comune, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 0.40km
Visiting Piazza del Comune, Assisi

Chiesa Nuova, Assisi

Chiesa Nuova, Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Feldstein
In 1615, this church emerged on the site believed to be Saint Francis’s birthplace, within the house of Pietro di Bernardone. Initially known as the “New Church,” it marked the culmination of Assisi’s fervent church-building era. The catalyst? Spanish Vicar General Antonio de Trejo’s dismay at the state of Saint Francis’s modest birth home during […]
Visiting Chiesa Nuova, Assisi

Museo e Foro Romano

Ancient Cellar - Ruins Of The Ancient Roman Forum - Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / José Luiz
The exploration of Assisi’s Roman history commences from Town Hall Square. Descending four meters underground, you enter the subterranean passage that traverses the Romanesque crypt of the former Saint Nicolò “de platea” church. Here, artifacts such as capitals, coffins, and Roman inscriptions from Assisi and its environs are on display. Continuing through a narrow corridor […]
Location: Foro Romano e Museo Archeologico, Via Portica, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: Every day from 10 am to 5.0 pm; last entrance allowed 4:30 pm; | Price: €5.00 | Distance: 0.50km
Visiting Museo e Foro Romano

Abbey of San Pietro in Assisi

Assisi, San Pietro
CC BY-SA 3.0 / sailko
Situated in the square bearing its name, at the outskirts of Assisi’s historic center, the Abbey of San Pietro stands as a captivating destination for visitors. Its roots trace back to Benedictine origins, boasting a remarkable facade, stunning interior, and an ambiance steeped in spirituality. Although perhaps overshadowed by the fame of the Basilicas of […]
Location: Chiesa di San Pietro, Piazza San Pietro, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Abbey of San Pietro in Assisi

Pinacoteca Comunale (Palazzo Vallemani)

Assisi - Pinacoteca Comunale
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Sottobosco90
Displayed within the chambers of Palazzo Vallemani, an exquisite Baroque edifice adorned with frescoed vaults by Umbrian and Tuscan artists in the early seventeenth century, lies the Municipal Art Gallery of Assisi. This gallery houses a vast array of medieval and Renaissance frescoes originating from both civil and religious structures in Assisi and its environs, […]
Location: Pinacoteca Comunale Palazzo Vallemani, Via San Francesco, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: From November to February: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.30pm) March: 10.00am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.30pm) – closed on Tuesdays From April to October: 10.00am – 6.00pm (last entry 5.30pm) – closed on Tuesdays December 25: closed | Price: €3.00 (Cumulative rate for the Pinacoteca, Roman Forum, Rocca Maggiore (including audio guide of the whole city): full price €10.00) | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Pinacoteca Comunale (Palazzo Vallemani)

Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco

Basilica Di San Francesco D’Assisi
CC BY-SA 4.0 / GattoCeliaco
The lower square of San Francesco in Assisi is situated next to the Basilica of San Francesco. From this square, visitors can access the lower Basilica, the Sacred Convent, and the oratory of San Bernardino da Siena. History of Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco The square likely began to take shape alongside the construction of […]
Location: Piazza inferiore di San Francesco, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco

Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi

Basilica Di San Francesco DAssisi
Since its construction in 1228, the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi has been a major site of Catholic pilgrimage. This sacred place enshrines the body of Saint Francis beneath its high altar and is renowned for its collection of paintings by Giotto. These works are pivotal in Western art history, marking a transition from […]
Location: Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi, Piazza Inferiore di San Francesco, Assisi, Province of Perugia, Italy | Hours: Lower Church: from 6:00 to 18:30 Upper Church: from 8.30am to5.45pm Tomb of St. Francis: from 6:00 to 18:00 | Website | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting Basilica di San Francesco d'Assisi

Best Time to Visit Assisi

The best time to visit Assisi is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October). Here’s why these periods are ideal:

Spring (April to June)

  • Mild Weather: Temperatures are pleasant, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), making it comfortable for exploring.
  • Blooming Scenery: The countryside is lush and green, with flowers in full bloom, adding to the beauty of the landscape.
  • Fewer Crowds: Compared to the summer months, there are fewer tourists, allowing for a more peaceful experience.

Fall (September to October)

  • Comfortable Temperatures: Similar to spring, the temperatures are mild, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).
  • Harvest Season: This is the time for grape and olive harvests, offering a chance to experience local festivals and taste fresh, seasonal produce.
  • Vibrant Colors: The changing colors of the leaves add a picturesque quality to the town and its surroundings.

Other Considerations

  • Summer (July to August): While the weather is warm (25°C to 35°C or 77°F to 95°F), this is also the peak tourist season, which means more crowds and higher prices.
  • Winter (November to March): Winters are colder, with temperatures ranging from 2°C to 10°C (36°F to 50°F). There are fewer tourists, but some attractions may have reduced hours or be closed.

By visiting during the spring or fall, you can enjoy the best weather, beautiful scenery, and a more relaxed atmosphere in Assisi.

Average Temperatures in Assisi

  • January 12°C 8
  • February 14°C 10
  • March 16°C 9
  • April 20°C 8
  • May 26°C 10
  • June 32°C 8
  • July 36°C 6
  • August 35°C 5
  • September 28°C 11
  • October 24°C 11
  • November 17°C 15
  • December 12°C 10

How to get to Assisi

By Train

You can reach Assisi from major cities like Rome and Florence. From Rome, take a train from Roma Termini to Assisi (via Foligno), which takes approximately 2-2.5 hours. From Florence, take a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Assisi (via Terontola-Cortona), also about 2-2.5 hours. From Perugia, a direct train to Assisi takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Note that Assisi’s train station is located in Santa Maria degli Angeli, about 5 km from the historical center, accessible by local bus or taxi.

By Bus

From Perugia, several bus services operate between Perugia and Assisi, taking approximately 45 minutes. There are direct buses from Rome’s Tiburtina Bus Station to Assisi, taking about 2.5-3 hours, though these are less frequent, so check schedules in advance.

By Car

Driving to Assisi is also a convenient option. From Rome, take the A1 motorway towards Florence, exit at Orte, then follow the E45 towards Perugia and Assisi, a journey of about 2 hours. From Florence, take the A1 motorway towards Rome, exit at Valdichiana, and follow the SS75 towards Assisi, also about 2 hours. From Perugia, follow the SS75 road directly to Assisi, taking approximately 30 minutes.

We recommend to rent a car in Italy through Discover Cars, they compare prices and review multiple car rental agencies. Book your rental car here.

By Plane

For those flying, the nearest airports are in Rome, Florence, and Perugia. From Rome (Fiumicino Airport), take a train from Fiumicino to Roma Termini, then follow the train route to Assisi, taking about 3-3.5 hours in total. From Florence (Peretola Airport), take a bus or tram to Florence’s main train station, then follow the train route to Assisi, also about 3-3.5 hours. From Perugia (San Francesco d’Assisi Airport), you can reach Assisi by direct bus or taxi in approximately 20 minutes.

Each mode of transport offers different advantages, so choose the one that best suits your schedule and preferences.