The town of Assisi
In 2000 Assisi with its Historic Centre (including the Rocca Maggiore and the Rocca Minore), the Basilica of San Francesco and Other Franciscan sites (the Cathedral of San Rufino, the Basilica of Santa Chiara, the Convento della Chiesa Nuova, the Tempio di Minerva (Temple of Minerva), the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, the Abbazia di San Pietro (the Abbey of Saint Peter), the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Porziuncola, the Santuario di Rivotorto (Sanctuary of Rivotorto), the Eremo delle Carceri and the Church and Monastery of San Damiano), together with almost the entire municipal territory, has been declared a World Heritage Site.
The reasons for its nomination were many. Assisi, with its Basilica and the importance of the artists who worked on it, have been a cultural and spiritual inspiration: the diffusion of the artistic and spiritual message of the Franciscan Order has spread across the world, influencing the art of other towns and cities. Assisi represents a unique example of a "city-sanctuary" within its environmental setting, from its Umbro-Roman and medieval origins to the present day. The Basilica of San Francesco is also considered to be an exceptional example of an architectural ensemble which has significantly influenced the development of art and architecture. Lastly, according to UNESCO, Assisi, as birthplace of the Franciscan Order, "has from the Middle Ages been associated with the cult and diffusion of the Franciscan movement in the world, focusing on the universal message of peace and tolerance".
Assisi, the town of Saint Francis, stretches out along the slopes of Monte Subasio. The long roads which sit at a reasonably high-altitude, cross the town, opening onto the large piazzas in front of the Cathedrals of San Rufino, Santa Chiara and the Comune (the Town hall). A visit to Assisi is clearly influenced by the Franciscan heritage. The sacred nature of the place has influenced the planning and architecture of the town, where the celebration of Franciscan ideology has contributed to the creation of monuments that are of outstanding interest for architecture and the visual arts. This is a characterising and unusual phenomenon which suggests a way to approach and enjoy a better understanding of Assisi itself.
With its medieval art masterpieces like the Basilica of San Francesco and frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti, Assisi has over the years, become a fundamental reference point for the development of Italian and European art and architecture.