Once it was inhabited by the Umbrian population and then dominated by the Etruscans; however, several of its monuments, among which the façade of the Temple of Minerva, the Walls, the Forum and the Amphitheatre, witness that Assisi had Roman origins. After the fall of the Roman Empire the town was under the rule of the Goths and the Lombards. Then, at the time of the municipalities, it became an independent town, particularly important for the religious fervour and the monastic movements; more than that, it also achieved political, economic and social importance. Subsequently it was contended by the Lordships of the Montefeltro, Fortebracci and Sforza Viscounts. Then after being under the Papal State control with Pope Paul III, it became a free town with the birth of the Italian State.

What to see

The Gothic Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, erected on the tomb of the saint by his will. It consists of an upper and a lower basilica and a crypt with the saint’s remains. In the upper basilica, Giotto’s frescoes depict the passages of Francis’s life up to his canonisation. The Basilica of St Clare is very similar as regarding its architectural style. Its frescoes were attributed to Cimabue. The Cathedral of St. Rufino, also the Cathedral of Assisi, which is in Umbrian Romanesque style and has three rose windows and three portals. The Church of St. Damiano where it is said that the first verses of the Canticle of the Creatures by St. Francis were composed. The Hermitage of the prisons, an isolated area from the town, which was the place where Francis used to retire in solitude for his prayers.