Underground Assisi

Assisi, with its centuries-old history, hides treasures that go beyond its famous visible attractions.

One of these treasures is the ancient Roman Forum, recently rediscovered and now accessible through a fascinating underground path. Visitors who walk along the main axis of Assisi, from the Church of St. Clare to the magnificent Basilica of St. Francis, often overlook the traces marked on the asphalt in front of the Temple of Minerva, erected in 30 BC.

However, these white stripes are no ordinary parking lines; they are the sign of something much older and more significant, the traces of the ancient Roman Forum of Assisi. The Roman Forum was discovered during excavations in 1836 and access to this historic site is possible through Via Portica, passing through the Romanesque crypt of the former Church of San Nicolò “de platea”. Here, sarcophagi, capitals, and inscriptions are on display, offering an overview of the city’s archaeological finds.

The underground route offers a unique perspective on the vestiges of the ancient center of Assisi’s social and economic life. Among the structures that emerge from the past are the monumental court with the podium and seats for the magistrates, the small temple dedicated to the Dioscuri, a cistern and the tabernae (shops). Through a glass walkway, visitors can admire the original ancient pavement, located 5 meters below the current level. An educational room, integrated into the museum itinerary, allows a virtual view of the city’s most significant monuments. The Roman Forum is a precious testimony of ancient Assisi, hidden under medieval remains. This city was an important center in ancient Rome, inhabited by wealthy merchants and renowned as a spa resort. Recent discoveries, such as the Roman domus Larario and Properzio, complete the picture of important finds, including two forums, an amphitheater, a circus, a theatre and the funerary tower of the “gens Petronas” (Petronas family).

Assisi underground offers a compelling journey into the past, an opportunity to discover the history hidden beneath the layers of time and modernity. Who knows how many other wonders are waiting to be unveiled in the depths of this city steeped in history.