Day 9 – Assisi and Francis

You can find Francis everywhere in Assisi. He was born in 1181 and was the founder of a brotherhood that became the Franciscan order. Born into a middle class family, he worked with his father until aged twenty. He chose to take part in a crusade in view of perhaps becoming a knight. He became ill, not very far from Assisi and returned home dejected and  without purpose. Some time later he received a vision from God that led him to ultimately shed himself of worldly goods. He was confident that God would take care of him as God takes care of the birds. Francis, according to tradition, created the first nativity scenes so Assisi is famous for their olive wood nativity sets. The symbol of the Tau cross, named for the Greek letter it represents can be found in every souvenir shop. This is a simple cross, made of wood that reflects the restrained and unadorned attribute of the Franciscan order.

A diversion from Francis is the annual May festival that occurs for four days on the first weekend in May. The streets are filled with people dressed in medieval costumes preparing for their performance in the main town square. No one knows the origins of the event but the first recorded instance is in about 1389. The Calendimaggiodiassisi has citizens from the surrounding communities competing for the best drummers, musicians, parades, costumes, etc. A noisy, colourful happening with all ages participating.