A 7:30 am wake-up call greeted us and after our breakfast buffet we boarded the bus for a 2.5 hour drive to Assisi, home of St. Francis. As we were leaving, we drove to a viewing area overlooking the city of Florence. Spectacular! It was quite something for us to see the bustling city as one, quiet entity. To think about the history and the important historical people that called this city home. Inspiring.
On the outskirts of Assisi we stopped at a family run restaurant for a demonstration in making authentic egg noodle pasta. An expert demonstrated the various steps and then gave students a chance to try their hand. From our group, Kyra gave it a go – photos below. We settled in to a pasta lunch… I have to say that many of us love pasta, but after having it almost daily… if we don’t see pasta for a few days (or more), we would be OK!
Our bus dropped us at the steps to the town of Assisi and we started our exercise for the day with the equivalent of about 5 flights of stairs. We were rewarded as the town of Assisi was charming. The girls all commented on how much they liked the town, because it was just that, a town, with fewer tourists, merchants, cars and noise. Although our walking tour took us up and down the hills of Assisi we enjoyed it because of the entirely different atmosphere of the town. All of our days have been hot – in the low 30s C. Today seemed hotter and fortunately there was a nice breeze blowing or we would have melted – along with our daily gelato.
Our entire group entered the lower Basilica of St. Francis and were immediately struck by the beautifully painted ceiling and walls. The details are stunning. The arches throughout the church have lots of colour and seem to show a great sense of care about the building. St. Francis’ body is buried in the basement and we were able to walk around the stone covered tomb. In this small room/chamber, there were many people in the pews, praying. Around the tomb were a handful of people on their knees, holding onto the railing immediately around the tomb. One woman was weeping. It was hard not to be moved by this display of faith. The Upper Basilica was equally ornate and impressive. The timing worked out perfectly for Mrs. Baker to attend mass while the rest of the group walked through town and explored some of the interesting side streets and alleys. We took some time to talk about the history that has taken place in this town over the centuries and reflect on what it would have been like for the people who lived there over the centuries. It really is quite humbling to think that this year, Canada is celebrating 150 years as a nation. The place we had gelato today was 500-600 years old! Wow… These European cities and towns have evolved over time to a mix of old and new. In North America our history is quite short in comparison. Assisi had many wars trying to maintain its dominance in the area – therefore the streets would have not only hosted thousands of religious faithful but an army of knights. Now that makes you think…
We ended the day at a quaint little hotel – we think it might have been a manor house in an earlier incarnation. Dinner was served almost as soon as we arrived at 7:30pm. Opening course… you guessed it – pasta! Followed by pork (except for the vegetarians), salad and lemon gelato. Yup, more gelato. I think some of us may go into withdrawal when we get home. Of course, that probably won’t be a bad thing!
Best thing about today:
VMC: Colours of the ceiling of the Basilica.
KM: Seeing the quaint hotel
DAW: Seeing the town of Assisi and the old buildings and their architecture
DOW: St. Francis’ tomb and the people praying
MOM: Quiet/relaxed town
SB: Attending mass – Same style as in Canada but in Italian not English. We are wondering if the mass in Rome will be in Latin or Italian.
JS: Colours of the ceiling of the Basilica and the quietness of the town
JR: Seeing the students taking it all in each day and really “getting it.”
FIT Bit count 11400+ to 12400+ (Great Danes and Dashounds).
Sadly its only one night in Assisi and then we have a long drive tomorrow – about 5 hours to Pompeii.