I travel a lot by train in Italy and I love visiting new (to me) and old towns. No station that I have seen comes close to the picturesque nature of the one in Assisi! I adore it!
The plaque above states (roughly): The itineraries of the great Jubilee of 2000 led to Assisi, the center of Christian faith and spirituality. For this occasion the state railways have restored the old dignity of the station which, in the presence of the Honorable Enrico Micheli, Undersecretary to the President of the Council, handed over to the citizens of Assisi and to the visitors of the Franciscan places.
I am always highly entertained when I see priests and nuns on the streets of Italy. They are not as common as you would think. Here a group of nuns is waiting for a bus. They travel just like the rest of us!
This last set of pictures is not of the station, but was spotted on an old street in Assisi.
One of the most amazing Roman Empire remains is in the heart of Assisi. The former temple to Minerva was subsumed by Christianity and made into a church dedicated to St. Mary.
Wikipedia tells us: The Temple of Minerva is an ancient Roman building in Assisi, currently housing a church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, built in 1539 and renovated in Baroque style in the 17th century.
The temple was built in the 1st century BC by will of Gnaeus Caesius and Titus Caesius Priscus, who were two of the city’s quattuorviri and also financed the construction. The attribution to the goddess Minerva derives from the finding of a female statue, although a dedication stone to Hercules has been found, and the temple was likely dedicated to this male demi-god.
In the Middle Ages the temple housed a tribunal with an annexed jail, as testified by one of Giotto’s frescoes in the St. Francis Basilica, which portrays the church windows with bars.
Of the ancient temple, the façade has been preserved, with six Corinthian columns supporting the architrave and a small pediment. The columns were originally covered by a very strong plaster, which was perhaps colored. The cella was completely demolished during the church’s construction, in the 16th century, while a small section of the temple was found in the 20th century near the altar.
The temple was visited and described by the German poet Goethe during his travels in Italy, as the first ancient structure in good condition seen during his life (1786).
Once inside the building, however, you know you are in Baroque Italy again!
At this small Florentine park not far from my house, “the wheel” is set up to take riders high up and around, and an ice skating rink is set up below to take them low and around. It’s up until 16 January, so hurry if you want to join in! It was about 50 degrees here today, rain tomorrow.
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor Conventual in Assisi, a town in the Umbria region in central Italy, where Saint Francis was born and died. It is a Papal minor basilica and one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, Sacro Convento, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
The basilica, which was begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches (known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church) and a crypt, where the remains of Saint Francis are interred. The Upper and Lower Churches are decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The range and quality of the works give the basilica a unique importance in demonstrating the outstanding development of Italian art of this period, especially if compared with the rest of Christian Europe.
The Franciscan friary (Sacro Convento) and the Lower and Upper Basilicas (Italian: Basilica inferiore e superiore) of Francis of Assisi were begun in honor of this local saint, immediately after his canonization in 1228. Simone di Pucciarello donated the land for the church, a hill at the west side of Assisi, known as “Hill of Hell” (Italian: Colle d’Inferno) where previously criminals were put to death. Today, this hill is called “Hill of Paradise”.
In 1818, the remains of Saint Francis were rediscovered beneath the floor of the Lower Basilica. In the reign of Pope Pius VII the crypt was built so that the faithful might visit the burial place of the saint. On 27 October 1986 and January 2002, Pope John Paul II gathered in Assisi with more than 120 representatives of different religions and Christian denominations for a World Day of Prayer for Peace.
Just before New Year’s, I stole away to Assisi for a day from Florence. I have a long history in this lovely hilltop hamlet, and I never tire of revisiting it. I enjoyed strolling through the center, and the highlight of any visit is to see the amazing frescoes of the church of Saint Francis. I’ll be posting about the paintings in the next few days, but I want to start my posts on the church with these elements below. Enjoy! They are astounding relics from 800 years ago.
I have a particular fondness for the saint, Nicolas. The frescoes in this chapel are dedicated to the story of his life.