Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)
Assisi’s crown jewel is its 13th-century basilica, topping the massive hillside Sacro Convento complex. The church has three main components: the Upper Basilica (Basilica Superiore), home to one of the world’s most celebrated fresco cycles; the older Lower Basilica (Basilica Inferiore), decorated with late-medieval frescoes by Cimabue and Pietro Lorenzetti; and the underground Crypt of St. Francis (Cripta di San Francesco), where St. Francis’ tomb lies. Both pilgrimage site and de facto art museum, the basilica is best appreciated with a guide who shares insight into its art, architecture, and history. Stop by on a small-group or private tour of Assisi, or opt for an audio tour that focuses exclusively on the basilica.
Alternatively, explore the basilica and Assisi’s other Franciscan sights on a day trip from Rome or Florence. Many tours include stops along Lake Trasimeno or in nearby towns such as Perugia.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Wear comfortable shoes for walking tours of Assisi along the medieval town’s steep lanes.
Both the Upper and Lower Basilica are accessible to wheelchairs; the crypt, however, is not.
The Basilica di San Francesco requires modest clothing and solemn decorum.
Photography isn’t allowed inside the church.
How to Get There
The Basilica di San Francesco is located on Piazza San Francesco at the far end of Assisi’s historic center. Direct trains run from Rome and Florence.
When to Get There
The Basilica di San Francesco is open every day. Check the church’s website for hours and a list of celebrations. On the feast day of St. Francis (October 4), special masses are held in and around the basilica, often with the participation of the pope and national and international political figures.
The Upper Basilica is decorated with one of the most significant works of Italian medieval art: a series of frescoes telling the story of St. Francis’ life. Known collectively asThe Legend of St. Francis, the panels includeSt. Francis Giving His Mantle to a Poor Man, among others. The frescoes are attributed to Giotto, though some art historians contest this claim, citing style discrepancies suggesting the panels could be the work of several artists.
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- Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)