Italy: Assisi

The UNESCO-inscribed town of Assisi is where the Franciscan religious order was founded in 1208. The hilltop town is both a medieval fortress and a massive cathedral – Basilica di San Francisco di Assisi is one of the world’s most important pilgrimage destinations. It’s really like two separate churches – a Romanesque on the bottom and a Gothic on top. Inside, it’s insanely lavish with 13th century frescoes in and out (no photography – somebody needs to tell them that “warm” flashes are no longer used since like 1930s). With Cathedral on one side of the town, a medieval Via San Francesco leads up to the town and many other churches along the way – Santa Maria, San Rufino, Santa Chiara, San Damiano, and so on. There is also the Temple of Minerva from 1st century BC and the Roman Forum. Assisi is overran with tourists and pilgrims, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but still impressive and worth the visit.