Tourism in italy: unexpected Assisi, a journey that starts in the everyday and transports you to outstanding natural beauty, spirituality and sacred intensity.

Terzo Paradiso - a riveder le stelle
Photo: Valeria Canavesi

Assisi Italy. Leave the beautiful Upper Basilica of San Francesco and the jostling pilgrims behind: past the walls, on the left, a gap opens onto 60 hectares of authentic Umbrian forest landscape, the Selva of San Francesco (owned by the Sacro Convento). Then you enter the wood, now property brought back to life by FAI after years of civil neglect and illegal use as landfill.

Once past the ticket office, the smell of resin and moss block out the chaos of tourism just over the walls. Your very soul prepares itself for discovery, guided by clear and informative signposting. The footpath of the Wood of San Francesco winds down towards the river Tescio, following the footsteps of the patron saint of Italy, who came here to retire in prayer. Hornbeam, flowering ash. Wild cyclamen, hawthorns, holly. Hellebores, oaks, dogwoods. And porcupines, butterflies, finches, tits, even hawks. The Wood of San Francesco is an important sanctuary of biodiversity, where wild plants live alongside cultivated olive and fruit trees.

The remains of a thirteenth century Benedictine monastery, with its mill and hospital and the church of Santa Croce offer rest and refreshment after an hour’s hike. Of particular interest is the fresco of the Cross without Christ, a place of worship and prayer for believers of all faiths.

Time to move on and discover the path of the Third Paradise: a work of land-art donated to FAI by Michelangelo Pistoletto. The infinity symbol created by dozens of olive trees, is enhanced by a third circle and a steel antenna, symbolising the interplay between the human condition, nature and artifice .

The Bosco di San Francesco: a unique walk and a memorable destination waiting to be discovered with your feet and your heart.

See other places getting lost in Italy at

[box title=”” border_width=”1″ border_style=”solid” align=”center”]Valeria Canavesi – Author for STW [/box]