Assisi’s role as an integral stop on any Christian pilgrimage is indebted to St. Francis, the wandering minstrel and self-styled monk, founder of a monastic order, protector of animals, and champion of the poor for whom the Basilica of San Francesco was built. It is indeed not to be missed on any trip to Italy. Its ceiling was toppled by an earthquake in 1997, but has been pieced back together. On your way to Rome, stop off in Spoleto. If you’re traveling between June and July, you are practically obliged to see the town’s Festival dei Due Mondi, considered the nation’s most important performing arts festival. Otherwise, it is still one of the peninsula’s most spectacular medieval hill towns, topped by a six-towered castle.