Situated along the Chiascio River, the town of Bastia Umbra is in the very heart of Umbria. There is a nature park along the river, and a pretty path along the Tescio stream, with fields surrounding it. Above it is the famous town of Assisi. It is practically connected to the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
It was a Roman settlement originally, with the name Insula Romana. A document dating from 1053 called the inhabitants Isolani. From the 1300s it was tied to Assisi and vied for by Perugia, often being attacked in the meantime. They held off the Perugia troops for seven months in 1319 but the town's fortifications had all been destroyed and in the end they fell under Perugia's control. The defenses were rebuilt, of course, and thus it gained its new name - Bastia from the 17 bastioni, or defense towers, they constructed around the town. They returned under Assisi's domain in 1340. It was ruled by various lords and the Papal States until 1614 when it was granted its own independent status.
The town's bridges, railroad terminal and factories were bombed during WWII. Luckily, the town's pretty gateway, the Sant'Angelo Gate, remains from the medieval period, and the church of Santa Croce from 1295 (!) still stands regally, too. Today the old town center is a pleasant mix of ancient and modern, with some outlying newer town development that then gives way to Santa Maria degli Angeli. There's a train station, and services around town, while the Perugia airport is just a few minutes away. Assisi is also only minutes uphill, and Perugia with its city museums and atmosphere is only 25 minutes away.
The church of Santa Croce with its rose window and pretty two-tone rustic stone facade holds a gorgeous gilded polyptych of Sant'Angelo. On the tiny Piazza Umberto, the former church of Sant'Angelo is now an auditorium for shows and concerts. The Rocca Baglionesca is probably the town's defining landmark, though; a former monastery and castle, it stands the edge of the old town.
Bastia Umbra puts on some big-deal annual events. The Palio of San Michele is held every September 19-29, and the four rioni (districts) of town compete for the painted Palio prize, dueling in theatrics, games and La Lizza, a relay race. More traditional with a much longer history is the Rinchinata, an unusual but touching Easter procession that actually involves two separate processions in town, one carrying the Madonna and one carrying the Risen Christ. They meet and bow (inchino in Italian).
Don't miss the river walks and nature park while you're here.
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Explore nearby towns
Below the hill town of Assisi on the Valle Umbra plain is the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli, named for the basilica built here.
A hamlet below Assisi and part of the city's municipality, the town was part of the protective network of Assisi in the Middle Ages.
Assisi is renowned for its beautiful setting and its famous hometown boy who became a symbol for peace and virtue, and who also became a saint, St Francis.