A Travellerspoint blog

Stairways to Heaven

Perugia and Assisi

semi-overcast 18 °C

Throughout most of the past three millennium Italy was war-torn; often dominated by despotic rulers and foreign invaders. Following the decline and eventual fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, Italy was up for grabs and various Germanic tribes and the Goths were scrambling to capture what they could. The Romans had built many castles atop strategic hills and the locals retreated to these defensible communities to protect themselves. Perugia, the capital of Umbria, occupies such a fortified hilltop location and the enormous walls have been constructed and demolished many times over the centuries. It is a spectacular medieval city with many great buildings and a beautiful cathedral. But its most intriguing feature is an incredible series of stairs and escalators that wind up inside the immense fortified wall that was built by the Pope's army in the 1490s. Here is Sheila inside the ancient walls on a modern escalator - no claustrophobia inside theses cavernous fortifications...
Perugia is just one of dozens of fortified cities in this part of Italy. Lucca, Florence and Sienna are all within striking distance and are some of our favourite places. But today we went to Assisi - the birthplace of Saint Francis, (San Francesco). This is the basilica where the 13th century saint is buried...
While we enjoy discovering the history and admiring the incredible medieval architecture, we love the maze of steps and passages that snake up and down these hilltop communities. Here's a selection from Assisi...
These precariously perched cities are not for the fainthearted or weak kneed. Fortunately there is always a great cathedral at the very top, so it can be said that these steps are a stairway to heaven. But what goes up, must come down...
And this lengthy tunnel in Assisi was built by the Romans nearly two thousand years ago...
What would the tunnelers have made of the fact that today their tunnel is used as the entrance to the parking garage?

Confession time - we didn't really win the giant chocolate bear at Eurochocolate 2011. However, we did win the golden one that James is holding in the picture. But wait... it wasn't real gold, just gold foil disguising the fact that it was actually made of chocolate! The nightmare continues!

Posted by Hawkson 22:14 Archived in Italy

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The magical mystery tour continues....its all so enchanting. You two will be ready for an Ironman when you get back!

by Sharron

OMG!! That last set looks like my beach stairs minus the handrail. Not for the faint-hearted. Take care.

by R and B

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