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Next to the Basilica...

Nestled on the western flank of Monte Subasio, the small town of Assisi commands stunning views of the valley below and despite its small population of around 3000 people, attracts 4 to 5 million visitors each year! Of course, this is not due alone to its panoramic vistas but rather Assisi is most famous as a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Since the earliest times of its existence, Assisi has always been associated with the divine. Although historians believe that Assisi has been inhabited since around 1000 BC, first by the Umbrians and then the Etruscans, it eventually came under control of the Romans in 295BC with a Roman Temple of Minerva reputed to have been constructed at the site of a sacred spring here in the first century BC. Today, the impressive Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is built on the spot and still shows some of the 2000 year old Roman features.

Cathedral of San Rufino

Paganism gave way to Christianity however when the Bishop Rufinus converted the local inhabitants in 238 AD at a time when the Catholic Church was still underground and persecuted. Rufinus himself was indeed martyred at Costano for his beliefs and pronounced St Rufinus. His legacy has stretched through time even until the present day with Catholicism having remained in this area ever since and bearing fruit to a multitude of saints. To this day his remains lie in the Cathedral Church of San Rufino here in Assisi and a fitting beginning to a description of the town as a place where both St Francis and St Clare were baptised. Enjoying a mainly Romanesque western façade there are also Gothic architectural quotations within the design with the interior enjoying ancient frescoes from Puccio Capanna. So notable is the history and culture of this cathedral that it forms one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Basilica of St Clare

The Hotel Roma Assisi however is situated on the piazza of another of UNESCO’s WH sites – the Basilica of St Clare. The most famous of the saints of Assisi, St Francis of Assisi, and the namesake of Pope Francis, is intimately caught up with this Basilica too. St Francis was the son of a wealth merchant who after being made a prisoner of war experienced a powerful conversion of heart. Whilst praying in the church of San Damiano before a painted crucifix he experienced a vision in which the crucifix spoke to him and bestowed upon him the mission of renewal for the Church. This same crucifix now hangs in the Basilica of St Clare next to our hotel. St Francis went on to found the order of mendicant friars renowned for their poverty and simplicity of heart known now popularly as the Franciscans. However at the time, St Francis also had a profound effect on another of Assisi’s children, Clare who also founded a monastic religious order for women known popularly through the centuries as the Poor Clares. St Clare eventually died on 11th August 1253 and her body was transferred to the Basilica of St Clare in 1260 where she is still on display and venerated in the neo-gothic crypt below the internal Oratory of the Crucifix containing the crucifix of San Damiano.

Convent of St Clare

  • Also nearby to the Hotel Roma is the first convent of St Clare with the church of San Damiano rebuilt by St Francis.  Adorned with frescoes and still containing many features of interest from the life of Sts Clare and Francis, this is another must for pilgrims to Assisi.
  • Basilica of St Francis
  • Of course the most famous of the pilgrimage sites in Assisi is the resting place of St Francis himself – the Basilica of St Francis.  Begun in 1228, 2 years after the death of St Francis, the Basilica is a great early example of the Gothic architectural style and consists of an upper and lower church in addition to the crypt.  Now the mother church of the Franciscan order, the crypt contains the body of St Francis along with four of his most faithful brothers.  The upper and lower churches of the Basilica are magnificent and full of history and art – too much to mention here.  Of special interest however are the frescoes of Giotto, Cimabue, Martini and Lornzetti from the late medieval period.  Adjacent to the Basilica is the Franciscan friary of St Francis known as the Sacro Convento built in a fusion of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
  • Another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this Basilica was constructed in the later 16th century to envelop the 9th century church known as the Porziuncola as a result of the sheer number of pilgrims that came to visit this tiny church.  Originally belonging to the nearby Benedictine monks who gave it to the new Franciscan order, it is considered the spiritual birthplace of the Franciscan charism as it was here that St Francis came to understand his vocation and also where St Francis eventually died.  Adorned with medieval frescoes and beautifully adorned, the features of the Basilica are precious to all who experience them.
  • By staying at the Hotel Roma Assisi, guests will discover that its location on the square outside the Basilica of St Clare places them at the very heart of Assisi with all of the wonders and beauty of this medieval city within easy reach.  So what are you waiting for?  Book your stay today before all of our rooms are snapped up!