Cattedrale di San Rufino ☆☆☆

The cathedral of Assisi, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Assisi, Italy (Photo by Luca Aless)
The cathedral of Assisi

The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral of Assisi and its small museum

Assisi’s cathedral is off a quiet walled piazza that receives some historians’ votes as the true site of Roman Assisi’s forum.

The first church on this spot may have been raised as early as the 5th century.

In 1028, the town’s bishop witnessed an unrecorded miraculous event and had the old church torn down and a Romanesque one built to replace it, accompanied by a fat campanile (bell tower) built over a Roman cistern (which you can now climb for nice views).

In 1134, however, another bishop had an even greater miraculous vision, and the poor church was flattened to make way for the present structure, saving only the bell tower.

Alas, in the more than 100 years it took to build the church, the Romanesque styling of the lower two-thirds of the facade—including highly decorative friezes, Lombard lions and griffins at the doors, stone-spoked rose windows, and a classical dividing arcade of thin columns—gave way to Gothic fashion. The top third was finished with a jarring pointed blind arch set in the tympanum.

The interior was remodeled in 1571 following structural damage and deserves your attention only if you’re interested in the font in which St. Francis, St. Clare, and Emperor Frederick II were baptized (to the right as you enter).

At the altar are two canvases by Dono Doni—a Deposition on the right and Crucifixion on the left.

The cathedral museum

A door at the end of the left aisle leads to the Museo Diocesano which preserves detached frescoes by Puccio Capanna, more works by Dono Doni, and triptychs by L’Alunno and Matteo da Gualdo.

The museum also has a small archaeological collection.

You can enter the crypt from the door to the right of the facade; its rough vaulting and Ionic columns are, along with the bell tower, the only surviving bits of the 11C cathedral.

Photo gallery
  • The cathedral of Assisi, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Luca Aless)
  • Romanesque carvings on the lunette above the left portal, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • Dormition of the Virgin (1360-70) by a Venetian follower of Jacopo Avanzi, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The baptismal font, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Chris Light)
  • The campanile (bell tower), Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Berthold Werner)
  • The 11C crypt, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Rufino15)
  • Romanesque carvings around the main portal, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The rose window surrounded by Romanesque carvings, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Wolfgang Sauber)
  • Madonna col Bambino (1340) by Pietro Lorenzetti, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Santa Cecilia (1340s) by Pietro Lorenzetti, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Santa Caterina da Siena by Plautilla Nelli, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Romanesque carvings on the lunette above the right portal, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Gunnar Bach Pedersen)
  • The nave, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo by Sailko)
  • The cathedral of Assisi, Duomo of San Rufino of Assisi, Italy (Photo Berthold Werner)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).