Welcome to the province of Perugia in the Umbrian region of Italy. First the Romans built to honor Minerva, goddess of wisdom; Christians later claimed the area for St. Mary, St. Francis and his Claire. Assisi is best known as the birthplace of St. Francis and serves, as it has since the Middle Ages, as the backdrop to olive groves and winding streets. It is quietly beautiful along its cobblestoned Medieval passageways. Monte Subasio sits high above the town and casts morning shadows that connect the old churches, monasteries, fountains and courtyards. The high fortress of La Rocca hovers too, a darker place where Frederick Barbarossa spent his childhood. From here you can overlook the town and the valley below. A small lion fountain sits in the center of the Piazza del Commune that anchors a peaceful gathering place with small shops, bakeries, taverna, an information center, the Museum of Antiquities, and purveyors of the best Italian gelato in dozens of flavors. I arrived here in 2006 naïve to the pleasures of Italy and took home a generous helping of memories.
See bakery delights, the Monastery of St. Claire, a pair of garden cats basking in sunshine, and down the orchard covered hill to the valley where the majestic basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a favorite destination from Assisi where a tourist might visit the Porziuncola, the tiny building where Francis died.