Chiesa Nuova was built in an elegant Renaissance style under the patronage of King Philip III of Spain to both commemorate and preserve the presumed birthplace and childhood home of St. Francis. Today, this small church is a popular destination for pilgrims and history buffs. In addition to the ornate Greek-cross interior decorated with colorful frescoes by Cesare Sermei and Giacomo Giorgetti, visitors can tour the family shop where Francis sold cloth and the stairwell where the saint was imprisoned by his father. The complex also houses a museum and Franciscan library.
Most walking tours of Assisi’s historic center stop at Chiesa Nuova along with other nearby Franciscan sights, including the Cathedral of San Rufino and the Basilica of Saint Francis. Assisi is a popular day trip from Rome and Florence, and guided tours generally also include stops in the city of Perugia and along Lake Trasimeno.
Things to know before you go
- Walking tours require a significant amount of time on your feet so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
- The ground floor of the church is accessible to wheelchairs, though the steep medieval streets of Assisi are difficult to navigate on wheels.
- Chiesa Nuova is an important pilgrimage site so modest clothing and solemn decorum is required.
- Photography without flash is allowed inside the church.
How to get there
Chiesa Nuova is located just off Assisi’s main Piazza del Comune, about a 10-minute walk from the Basilica of Saint Francis. Assisi is an important pilgrimage destination and there are direct trains from Rome and Florence.
When to get there
Assisi holds an important medieval festival each year in early May, featuring pageants, concerts, and games. Time your visit to coincide with the festival to experience the vibrant side of the town, or with the feast day of Saint Francis (October 4th) to see its more solemn side.
Important Franciscan Sites in Assisi
Chiesa Nuova is built on the presumed birthplace of Saint Francis, but the town is thick with important sites that mark significant events in the life of the saint. The Cathedral of San Rufino is where the saint was baptized and the original baptismal font is still on display. The Eremo delle Carceri convent just outside town was once a retreat for the saints and his followers, and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the valley below Assisi was built on the site of his first monastic community. The most important landmark is the massive Basilica of Saint Francis, decorated with frescoes by Giotto and home to the tomb of the saint.
- Temple of Minerva (Tempio di Minerva)
- Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara)
- Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)
- Basilica of St. Francis (Basilica di San Francesco)
- Porziuncola Museum (Museo della Porziuncola)
- Assisi Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli)
- Pozzo della Cava