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Stay in Assisi

We are considering a 3 day stay in Assisi as part of our trip to Italy in Sept. 2017. We enjoy art, architecture, beautiful scenery, history,walking and good food and wine. My concern is that we read that Assisi is very busy and has a lot of tacky souvenir stands because of all the pilgrimages there. We would like the views of anyone who has spent time there please,is it worth a stay?

Also we like the idea of staying in a convent guest house. If anyone has done so, would you please share your experience.

Thanks!

I have been to assisi twice. I really enjoy it as a lovely oasis. I have gone both on a weekend and during the week. It 's much better if you can avoid the weekend craziness.

I would not get too wrapped up in staying in a convent. Convent type places can be bland, institutional and not necessarily cheap. We like little La Pallotta recommended in RS guide. It's a quaint B&B, casual and friendly in a quieter area away from the Basilica and near nice restaurants. Right across the walkway is a mini mart that is good for cheap drinks and snacks. Now, let me explain the showers at La Pallotta. You enter the bathroom. Make sure anything you want dry is out of the bathroom. Make sure the metal lid is covering the toilet paper. Shut the door and shower. There is no shower curtain. There is a floor drain. It works. Just a little different from a more compartmentalized bathroom. La Pallotta is clean. No worries.

Posted by
467 posts

We stayed in an apartment this past March for 3 nights and it was wonderful. We enjoyed our stay. You can find tacky souvenir stands ANYWHERE. We also visited the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli just down the hill and it was one of my favorite places. I highly recommend Assisi.

Posted by
17165 posts

I made a day-trip to Assisi in June 2015, so I didn't get the benefit of the peacefulness that comes in the evening and early morning when the day-trippers (like me!) are not present. Still, during most of my wanderings around the city there were few--or no--other tourists in view. Just get away from the basilica (after you've seen it, of course) and the nearby streets. Going from memory, I think the more peaceful areas were uphill from the basilica and the (outdoor) bus station; perhaps someone else can confirm that. It really is a physically beautiful city, even aside from the lovely basilica.

I haven't been to Venice or the Cinque Terre lately, but I don't usually find it difficult to escape the tourist throngs and knickknacks, for which I have a fairly low tolerance. Usually 90% of the people are in something like 20% of the area. In most cases the historic district has plenty of other picturesque but less-developed corners.

I've had the most difficulty getting away from the crowds in towns that are beachy and have very small historic areas. Assisi does not fall in that category. Pilgrimage destinations (which include Assisi and cities along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain) tend to be clogged only in the immediate area of the prime religious targets; just be willing to wander off on your own to other areas of the old town.

Yes, you may have a problem if you allot only a couple of hours to a town and have 2 or 3 sites to visit during that time--likely the same sites all the other tourists want to see. I look at a map of each destination's historic district before arrival, estimate how much time I will need to walk every street, then I add extra time for each specific site I want to visit.

Posted by
11613 posts

St Anthony's Guest House fills up fast. I also stayed at La Pallotta, loved it, and their restaurant down the street.

Nice base for getting to Spello or other hill towns nearby, especially during the day when the big buses stop in Assisi.

Posted by
635 posts

Another vote for Assisi and Hotel Pallotta.

As mentioned above, the further uphill you go (and there is much to see up there), the fewer daytrippers you encounter. Go downhill to the Basilica at sunset after the tour busses leave -- it's magic. At the peak tourist times, walk up to Rocca Maggiore, visit the underground Roman ruins, walk the backstreets, take the bus down to the Basilica in Santa Maria degli Angeli or just sit in Piazza Comune and people-watch.

Hotel Pallotta is in an excellent, convenient location. There is a wonderful upstairs common room with views in all directions.

Don't let the fear of crowds (and they're really not that bad) dissuade you from experiencing Assisi. We spent five days there and are already planning to return.

Photos here: https://goo.gl/photos/rvwhrVUHd7bX8Aak9

Posted by
855 posts

We would like the views of anyone who has spent time there please,is it worth a stay?

Definitely worth a stay. The big tour groups stick to a predictable pattern of areas (mainly around the basilica) and the mornings and evening are relatively peaceful.

We stayed at Camere Martini Assisi in the city and Ostello Della Pace (hostel but they have some private double rooms) just outside of town.

DJ

Posted by
7329 posts

We loved Assisi. We stayed 4 nights and were sad to leave. We were there in July or August (can't remember) of '08 and it was not crowded at all. I don't remember seeing a tacky tourist shop anywhere. We walked all over, throughout the residentials areas and there were photo ops everywhere we looked. Loved it.

Posted by
7737 posts

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks in Assisi in April/May 2015. There are indeed some tacky souvenir shops sprinkled around, esp. along the Via San Francesco which connects the Basilica to the main Piazza del Commune. But the town itself and its environs are stunningly beautiful. Great views from lots of different spots in town, and the view from the Rocca Maggiore overlooking the town and valley is jaw-dropping.

Best restaurant IMHO is Trattoria Pallotta, off the Piazza del Comune. No view, but outstanding food. Order from the seasonal menu.
Runner up is Osteria Dei Priori. Also good is Il Menestrello.

Best restaurant for the view is Ristorante Metastasio.

Not a big fan of staying in convents since they tend to have very spartan decor and sometimes a curfew.

Posted by
31076 posts

wendy,

I didn't notice an overabundance of "tacky souvenir stands" during my stay in Assisi (maybe I just wasn't looking?). Are you referring to a 3 night stay, which will provide 2+ days of sightseeing time?

If you decide to stay there, I would highly recommend Hotel Ideale, which is outside the main part of the city and provides great views. It's also close to the stop for the bus back down to the station.

Posted by
7737 posts

I wouldn't characterize Hotel Ideale as "outside the main part of the city". That makes it sound like it's out of town. You can tell from Google Maps that it's actually right next to Piazza San Ruffino, one of the main piazzas in the upper part of town. https://goo.gl/maps/DD5JvjhHEy52

Sounds pretty ideal to me.

Posted by
5721 posts

We have stayed at St. Anthony's Guest House twice and highly recommend it for both ambience and location. I'd try to book that asap. You can walk to all the key sites in Assissi and the place has lovely public rooms and gardens (the bedrooms are spartan but have baths ensuite and are adequate) It is located right between the Cathedral and Santa Chiara in the center of town and it is an easy stroll to the Basilica and also down the hill to the little church of San Damiano where Francis received his calling and they do evening vespers.

Posted by
31076 posts

Michael,

Well OK, Hotel Ideale is not outside the city to any extent but not exactly in the centre either.

Posted by
11613 posts

The main sights of central Assisi are up the winding road from St.Anthony's Guest House, there isa little bus that runs on that route.

Posted by
7737 posts

Assisi is small. It's less than one mile from St. Anthony's/Hotel Ideale to the opposite end of town where the Basilica of SF is located. https://goo.gl/maps/qPndXstYzt72 And that stretch is fairly level, as Assisi goes.

Posted by
66 posts

Wendy,

Hotel Ideale - at the top end of town. Fantastic views, decent breakfast.

Trattoria Da Erminio - specializing in various meaty dishes prepared over embers a few feet from your table. Tried different items both nights. Fantastic!!!

My wife & I have been to Assisi twice for a total of 3 nights. Our most recent trip was after our RS - VFR tour in May 2015. We can't wait to return. Next time will be at least 4-5 days. Great location to depressurize.

would also like to try the restaurants mentioned by Michael above.

Enjoy,
Gene

Posted by
784 posts

Can I add my 2 euro? This year will be number 14 for me in Assisi - I'm a director for international music festival in July. Yes, you can find tacky souvenir shops. Yes, it can be crowded. BUT! There are some beautiful and original things to buy like olive oil, balsamic vinegar (great shop for both directly across from Hotel Giotto); wonderful leather goods (very narrow shop on the left side as you are heading up the hill from the Basilica San Francesco); amazing art (keep going, you'll pass several studios that are well worth looking at). You are more than welcome to just "take a look" and you will be greeted by some very friendly people. The food in Assisi tends to be part of the Umbrian "slow cooking" menu. Lots of fresh vegetables, excellent meats, local wines and don't forget the gelato (proof that God wants us to smile).

Crowds? During the day, yes. At night, no. Of course there are the specific and special places you must visit in Assisi: the Basilica of San Francesco, Basilica of Santa Chiara, the Cathedral of San Rufino, Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. There are also a few museums that don't get the crowds but are filled with local history. Rocco Maggiore (the big castle on top of the mountain) is a nice get away. Hire a taxi and go up Mount Subasio for the views and the Hermitage (where St. Francis and the friars went for peace and quiet - it's still very peaceful and very quiet). I do these every year and have yet to tire of them. Go down the mountain and see San Damiano and (lower) Santa Maria degl' Angeli. The view up the mountain to the medieval city of Assisi is stunning. At night the city will be pretty much yours. The tourists will be mostly gone. The Piazza Commune is a wonderful place to sit, have a drink, enjoy the people watching. If young pilgrims are in town there may be singing and dancing - a lot more enjoyable than you may think!

I love Assisi. Every year I'm joined by wonderful singers and instrumentalists from major symphonies and opera houses for nearly 3 week. Probably 90% of the musicians return every year. We must be doing something right - or we have found the perfect location to relax, study, rehearse and perform nearly 20 concerts in 2 weeks. Some of us call Assisi 'paradise'. I always say 'Assisi is where I like me.'

Hotel? We stay at the Hotel Sole which I love and it has a wonderful restaurant. I've also heard wonderful things about the Dei Priori, Giotto, and Panoramic. Sorry, don't know the convents but I imagine they will be very special in their own way!

Posted by
6446 posts

I was there July 2016 peak travel time and found that it was not that overrun with tourists and did not notice much in the way of tacky souvenir stands. There are shops selling stuff aimed at tourists but they maintain the historic original architecture of the town and do not stand out.

Posted by
14039 posts

My only night in Assisi, I stayed at La Fortezza (budget prices, ceiling fan, no A/C but fine) in mid-May. It's very near the central Piazza del Commune, but up 75 stairs. It was easy enough, though I did leave my luggage in storage at the train station and went with only an overnight bag.

Assisi is the steepest, most up-and-down town I've been to in Italy and I arrived with a very painful knee (that actually healed during my short time there). I loved it and wished I'd had another night there (I arrived around midday and left on a 5 p.m. train). 3 nights gives you 2 full days which is a good amount. I think 2 nights might be enough, depending on your arrival and departure times. I didn't see anything tacky and enjoyed visiting the shops, even bought 2 lovely scarves and a couple other things. Of course there are lots of souvenirs, but lots of local good quality wares as well. I didn't notice any "souvenir stands."

Rick has a self-guided audio tour from one end of town to the other (be sure to print out the map) that I enjoyed. There were definitely scenic views on it. Be sure to allot plenty of time to enjoy all the Giotto frescoes at the basilica. The Museo e Foro Romano is very well done. Lots to explore besides the basilica. Enjoy!!!

Posted by
17165 posts

I'd hate to think some of you believe we are making up our reports of souvenir stands in Assisi. If you are doubtful, just Google "photo Assisi souvenirs".

I wandered around the upper reaches of the town for a few hours without encountering anything like those photos. It was after I left the basilica that I found the souvenir street. Don't remember exactly where it was, but it was memorable! Under the circumstances it's amazing how unspoiled the bulk of old Assisi is.

The tourist shops are not "in your face." You can just stroll on by. Any pilgrimage site will have "trinket" shops. This practice goes back hundreds of years. So, just consider it a continuation with historical practices. I actually appreciate the better quality ones.
St. Assisi has multiple great sites. The Basilica, of course. san Damiano. Santa Maria degli Angeli, San Rufino Cathedral, St. Clare's Place with gorgeous views from piazza, Roman sites, Temple of Minerva, piazza del Commune, window box flowers, San Stefano, gorgeous views everywhere, other various St. Francis sites. It's a jewel of a town. I personally prefer midweek over weekend due to far fewer people. I wish I could spend more time in Assisi.

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. They have been very helpful and, I'm sure, will be when we are in Assisi. We have booked a three night stay at St. Anthony's guest house and are really looking forward to it.

Posted by
2 posts

worth the stay. Beautiful town. Stayed at NUN. Not cheep, but removed from the tourist center and an easy walk to everything. This hotel used to be a convent and has the most amazing spa I've ever visited. The indoor pools, treatment rooms are carved into an underground ancient roman spa. Was a nice modern, clean stay and a good mid-trip rejuvenating splurge.

Posted by
1001 posts

We have been to Assisi 2x and loved it. If you have a car you cld stay at an agriturismo. Our family of 4 stayed at a lovely agriturismo 2 km outside of Assisi. We stayed a week in the apt "poppies" at Podere La Fornace www.lafornace.com which had 2 bedrms & 2 bathrooms. We were here on Ferragosto day in August and they had a wonderful BBQ for the guests. From the pool you can see Assisi. Did day trips around the area.

Posted by
11613 posts

Chani, Urbino's topography makes Assisi look like the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Posted by
784 posts

Not that I'm the expert but I am heading to Assisi for the 14th time in 14 years. I'm a director of an international music festival there. Tourists come and go - usually mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Since riposo is honored by most of the shops and restaurants, there isn't much to do after 1:00pm. Things open up again about 4:00. Maybe a few more groups come through then but they are pretty much gone before their dinner in another city. Because of that the tour groups use their time wisely (?). It isn't so crowded though that you can't enjoy and get taken up in the beauty that truly is Assisi.

The evening hours are very special. The breeze from the valley can dramatically cool the city and your hotel room (I seldom have to use the a/c and frequently go looking for a blanket - in July!). The people are friendly and generous with their help/advice. Sit at a bar on the Piazza Commune before and after a long dinner of famous Umbrian slow cooking. You deserve this! The Piazza can be filled with young people, enjoying their spirit of St. Francis, with song and dance. It's really wonderful to observe or feel free to join in!

Tacky souvenir stands? Not really. There are plenty of shops with items of all prices. I wouldn't say 'tacky' though. Art, leather, olive wood, olive oil and balsamic vinegar are my favorite gifts for family, friends and myself. I now have a whole wall of beautiful art by Vincenzo Martini. I have oil and vinegar shipped home regularly - you can't get that stuff (the really great stuff!) here in the States. What a difference! Umbrian wines? White or red, it's what people really drink at home and out.

Assisi is safe. Wander the streets day or night and don't be afraid to just turn left to see what's down the alley. We joke that Assisi is uphill in both directions. The passaggiata in the evening is relaxing, envigorating, romatic and a guarantor of a good night's sleep! The moon and stars are close enough to cup in your hands. The air is clean and sweet. Enjoy Assisi - it's truly a blessing to be there.