My husband and I have just returned from a delightful visit to Assisi, Italy. The most unique part of the visit was the lack of crowds. Since the earthquake in September 1997, the tour books and travel editors have said "don't go." What a mistake!
The city is lovely and most of it is undamaged. In keeping with the Italian flair for making everything bella, even the scaffolding is beautiful, with sparkling brass hinges.
The lower basilica of St. Francis Church is undamaged. The upper basilica was damaged, and the city has put together a wonderful exhibit in a separate building that shows the video of the actual earthquake (in reality, an aftershock). The video also shows the massive undertaking underway at piecing together the bits of rubble to restore the artwork in the upper basilica. This summer is a wonderful opportunity to visit Assisi before everybody else discovers that it is open and anxious for visitors.