St. Francis of Assisi is perhaps the most well loved saint in the country of Italy and perhaps in the world. His birthplace, Assisi, is one of the most beautiful cities to visit on your trip to Italy.
We will begin your tour when we pick you up from you hotel in Rome at 8:00 AM, and you will return to your hotel at approximately 5:00 PM.
During the drive to Assisi, you will enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way as you leave the rustic countryside of Lazio and enter the lush region of Umbria.
Because Stefano Rome Tours has a special license, we can drive directly into the historical center of Assisi, saving you valuable time and a long walk to see this enchanting town.
This tour is available only from your Rome accommodation.
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Who Is St Francis of Assisi?
The story of this gentle man born in a humble Italian town is both fascinating and inspiring.
Francis was born in 1181 or 1182 and at his baptism, was actually christened Giovanni. Later, his father began calling him Francis. In his youth, there was certainly no indication of the man he would become. He enjoyed a filled with pleasure, fine clothes and good times.
He soon became the favorite of the young nobles in Assisi. When he was about twenty years old, Francis went out with other townsmen to fight the Perugians in one of the frequent skirmishes between Assisi and Perugia. He was captured and held captive for about a year. During that time, he became ill and it is said that he began to think of eternity and of his own mortality. He considered the emptiness of the kind of life he was leading, but after returning to Assisi, he once again began to enjoy the pleasures of life and decided to embark on a military career.
He set out on a journey to the Neapolitan states with a friend. The night before they were to leave, Francis had a dream of a giant hall filled with armor and all of the armor was marked with a cross. A voice said, “These are for you and your soldiers.” Francis answered, “I know I shall be a great prince!” But he became ill once again in the city of Spoleto and had another dream in which the same voice told him to return to Assisi, which he did at once. This was in 1205 when Francis was in his early twenties. It was at this point that Francis seriously began to evaluate what he felt was a call upon his life. He gave up his fine clothing and put a stop to his wasteful ways.
One day Francis came upon a leper, and he did the unthinkable. He dismounted from his horse, embraced the poor man and gave him all of the money that he had. This was unheard of in that day and time. Shortly thereafter, he made a pilgrimage to Rome and was saddened by the paltry offering at the tomb of St. Peter. He again gave all of his money and then went a step further; he exchanged clothes with a beggar and stood outside of St. Peter’s with the rest of the beggars for the remainder of the day.
He returned to Assisi and took up a life of poverty, totally surrendering all of his worldly goods. He obtained a coarse woolen robe and tied it around himself with a knotted rope. He then endeavored to rebuild the churches and minister to the people. Eventually he was joined by others who took up the vow of poverty, and the Franciscan order was formed.
The Franciscans went from place to place ministering and singing; sleeping in haylofts, grottoes or church porches.
In 1212, a young woman named Clare joined Francis, desiring to embrace the life of poverty. Francis cut off her long hair, clothed her in a habit and made arrangements for her to stay with some Benedictine nuns until he had suitable living quarters for her and other women who joined her. They were established at St. Damian’s in Assisi.
Francis was a loving friend of all of God’s creatures, and lived to minister and spread the gospel until his death on October 3, 1226.
Santa Maria degli Angeli
We will first visit the St. Maria degli Angeli church (located in the town by the same name, Santa Maria degli Angeli), which is respected as the place of St. Francis' death. Inside the grand Baroque basilica are two small structures: the Capella del Transito and the Porziuncola. The Cappella del Transito is the small room in which St. Francis died on October 3, 1226. Above the small altar in a glass case is the rope belt of St. Francis.
We will then visit the Basilica of St. Francis, which consists of an upper level and a lower level, known as the upper church and the lower church. It is also in this Basilica that St. Francis is interred. The churches are decorated with many beautiful frescoes by late medieval painters including Cimabue, Giotto di Bondone, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. The basilica was begun immediately after St. Francis’ canonization in 1228.
We will make our way to the Piazza del Comune, the town's main square, built on the site of the Roman forum.
After lunch, we will visit the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (St Mary Above Minerva). It was built in the 1st Century BC, and when a female statue was discovered there, it was thought to be a temple of the goddess Minerva. However, a later discovery of a votive plaque to Hercules makes it more likely that the temple is dedicated to him. In 1539 the inner sanctum of the temple was transformed into the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, with further alterations added in the Baroque style during the 17th century.
We then visit the Basilica of St. Clare (Santa Chiara) where her preserved body is on display in a crypt, with a layer of wax covering her face. Nearby are garments worn by both St. Francis and St. Clare, and some locks of St. Clare’s hair that St. Francis cut off when she joined his ministry. This basilica is gothic in style and was built between 1257 and 1260.
Just outside of Assisi, we will visit the San Damiano church. The church is small and simple. This is the place where St. Francis received his calling in 1205 and where St. Clare died in 1253. After hearing a voice telling him to “Rebuild My church.” St. Francis reconstructed the little church with his own hands, having literally followed the message that he was given. St. Clare founded the order of ‘Poor Clares’ here in 1212 and lived there most of her life. The wooden choir stalls in the church date from the early 16th century, but those in the little Choir of the Poor Clares are original from the time of St. Clare (13th century).
This marks the end of your Assisi tour. From here you will enjoy the pleasant drive back to your hotel in Rome.
We thank you for choosing Stefano Rome Tours for your tours and shore excursions. We look forward to seeing you soon in Italy!
* If you are pleased with the service you received from your Driver a minimum of 10% gratuity is customary in Italy.
* The listed price listed for the tour is per vehicle, not per person. Our guests may split the cost of the tour.
* Payment for the tour will be made in Euro funds to your Driver at the end of your journey.
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* CANCELLATION POLICY: Don’t worry, we do not ask for your personal credit card information, require advance deposits to reserve your tour, or penalize you for cancellations. We operate on the Honor System, so we kindly ask that cancellations be made at the minimum 7 days in advance so we can rebook your service and your reserved driver does not lose work for that day. We thank you for your cooperation and consideration.
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