Saturday, February 14

Assisi, A Day Trip in Umbria

A few weeks ago we finally went to atone our sins in Assisi. This was our first trip to the city of San Francisco & growing up catholic...I don't know, I was always a bit nervous....such a holy & sacred city, would I be stuck by lightning? Could a passing priest issue me Hail-Mary's?

I have procrastinated a bit posting this day trip because I felt I couldn't do this city justice. So here is a humble look at Assisi through our pictures, a few tid bits & hopefully a handful of helpful info...

With our buddy Pat (from Seattle) in tow, we packed up the car with tons of snacks, grabbed our camera & I ripped out the section on Assisi from good ol' Rick Steves' Italy - we were ready for our pilgrimage!

It was dark & foggy in the morning, you could barely see down the narrow lanes leading us to the center of town.

In a city with what seems to have a million churches & chapels you can find yourself spending the day just wondering about, in & out of dark damp old buildings, with only the creaking of the pues to be heard (at least in the winter)

There were a handful of tourists when we visited in the late late fall, but even in those small numbers we could here that familiar American-twang & saw the blue book in hand - another Rick Steves follower! Quickly we switched into Italian-mode, I don't know why we didn't want to be 'made' but for some reason we felt more comfortable speaking in Italian since we are in Italy & mainly, because we want soo badly to blend!
We got a bit turned around looking for the Roman Arena- we couldn't seem to find the tiny lane named Via Anfiteatro Romano which was the entrance to this ancient neighborhood...we walked passed it probably 3 times before we finally figured it out - there wasn't the 'ancient site' or 'tourists stop here' marker that I guess I had expected, just a flimsy chain to keep cars from driving in.

The old town laundry is still wonderfully intact (with a bit too much graffiti), but you can easily imagine it bustling with dirty laundry & gabbing ladies!

Just down the block -

Note: at first glance this is just a driveway, ah but look closer - notice the stone, arches, more stone, & it kinda looks like ruins....Well that's because it is an archeological site dating back to the 1st century AD and it's a driveway at someones house! This is Italy baby!

Back to wandering the streets -

It's great to get 'lost' in old cities like these - you are walled in, so you can't get far - just meander, follow the smell of brodo, wander & day dream - you will most always end up back in the center of town.

Basilica of St. Francis, obviously not at all what Francis had in mind, but nonetheless stunning!

What a fantastic medieval citta! This city is totally do-able in a day if that's all you got. From our agriturismo it was less than 2 hours drive - a perfect day trip for wandering about in the morning, lunch & an afternoon stroll for pastries.

I must say the self-guided walking tour from Rick Steves came in handy, we definitly went off-the guide at times but it was nice to have a bit of info & history on what exactly we are looking at in regards to art or a specific location- especially in the Basilica - otherwise I would have been lost....

For tourist information head to the center of town on Piazza del Comune or visit their web site: click here

Assisi Online
Rick Steves Blog on Assisi
Slowtrav on Assisi

On the Road with Francis of Assisi by Linda Bird Francke - I have just started this lovely book (a gift from a very kind guest) it is a travelogue of parallel journeys, one of the author & the other the facinating story of St. Francis of Assisi and his path to sainthood. I love books like this because it helps brings these ancient cities to life for me!
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