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The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels) is a colossal church located just at the foothill of Assisi. While passing it on my way to Assisi I was awestruck. I am not a Catholic but churches have always intrigued me, probably much more than temples. So while returning from Assisi I visited the basilica.
 
The dome of Santa Maria degl Angelica from Assisi (look closely)
Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli 

Santa Maria Degli Angeli is a Mecca for the followers of St. Francis of Assisi. Situated in the town with the same name, the basilica was built in the 13th century.

The Porziuncola

Followers of St. Francis visit the basilica to for the Porziuncola, a sacred place where Francis spent his last days. The Porziuncola is believed to have been built in the 4th century and is a small chapel painted by several unknown Umbrian artists.


The rest of the basilica is stupendous and beautiful. I recently learnt from the online world that this church also happens to be the 7th largest Christian church in the world. 

Flanked by a thornless rose garden where it is believed St. Francis of Assisi talked to turtle doves, Santa Maria degli Angeli stands out from all the churches I have visited so far in Italy. It has intricate interiors and stunning exteriors with different stone inscriptions and frescoes.

The dome of basilica from outside
Opening Hours: 
7:00 am to 6:00 p.m. (Summer) & 7:00 am to 5:00 p.m. (Winter)
On Sundays, the basilica opens at 6 a.m in summer and winter both.
 
How to reach:
From Assisi- Take a bus from the Piazza Matteotti (5-7 minutes)
From Perugia- Take a bus from Piazza Partigiani (25-30 minutes)
From Florence or anywhere else- Direct trains to the town. Visit Trenitalia for more info.
 
The town of Santa Maria degli Angelica is quite small but vibrant. Here are some pictures of the town:
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