On the way to Assisi
This is the view of Assisi you see as you come down the road from the nearby town of Santa Maria Degli Angeli. The red brick path in the photo has peoples names and where they're from etched into them. I presume they may have contributed to the expense of building the path as a pilgrim route.
The Big Fort
The Rocca Maggiore stands just up the hill from the basilica. It is a 12th C fortress built by Frederick Barbarossa. It was obviously built for defensive purposes, but was heavily damaged by a popular revolt in 1198. It was rebuilt in the late 14th C.
This city is most famous for St Francis of Assisi, one of the most venerated of all Catholic saints. Officially, it dates to 89 BC. Little remains from this Roman period. After Rome fell, it changed hands several times, being ruled by the Goths, the Byzantines, and the Lombards (who established the Duchy of Spoleto).
About the end of the 12th century, the Catholic Church took power. St Francis was born during this period. He was born into a prosperous merchant family, but became a soldier of fortune rather than inherit the family business. After being a prisoner of war, and recovering from illness, he founded a new order of friars. They performed charity work, especially for lepers, and restored old churches. He was canonized in 1228. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named him the patron saint of the ecologists.