Friday, May 1, 2009


Despite the dark and threatening skies this morning, we headed for Assisi. And we did actually see some sun but not much. We wended our way into town by a new route that sometimes went completely the opposite direction to where we wanted to go but it all worked out, putting us out at the intersection that led to our usual parking lot. We discovered that there is a tunnel into the old part of town from that lot so we took it and it ended up just about where we were hoping to go first, the Church of St. Claire. This is a lovely 13th century church built out of white and rose stone. There was a very large piece of art in the piazza in front of the church that depicts immigrants coming to Italy. It is made out of wood from rundown houses and barns that would otherwise be thrown away.
After seeing inside the church – no pictures allowed – we wandered down the street. When I say down the street in Italy, it means truly down. Likewise, up ascends, sometimes very steeply with steps to assist. We did far more shopping that we needed to but it was lots of fun. Assisi is known for lace and, of course, there are always ceramics. Claire and I looked at some stoles and chasubles but weren’t wowed by any of them. Too Roman, I guess.

We stopped for lunch at the Buca di San Francesco, sampling the white wine from the Assisi region and very good food, even dessert. I think everyone in the restaurant were Americans. The people at the table behind us were from Columbia, SC and Cleveland, Ohio so we swapped “we’ve been there”s. We had fun trying to get the water in the bathrooms to run for more than a very few seconds. Bev expected her hands to foam if it started raining again – they did not.

Of course, our next stop was the Basilica. They are very strict about pictures but that didn’t stop many people from trying to take them anyway. It was hard to get a feel for the place this year as there were more tour groups than ever. This must be a school holiday week. We have had school groups everywhere we have gone but Assisi was swarming with them. The frescoes, though, never disappoint and there is an altar area where they are restoring the frescoes so we spent time watching that. Today, I was particularly aware of the fresh flowers on all the altars since so many of them were lilies. But the altar where we sat watching the restoration work was decorated with several kinds of flowers, one of which looked like rhododendron bushes – they were potted.
So we wandered up this time, heading for San Ruffino which is the Duomo where Francis, Claire and Frederick Barbarosa were all baptized. It’s 11th century, I believe. Most of the outside stone decorations are very worn, to the point it is sometimes hard to figure out what they are. We like the crucifix in this church. Jesus looks like he just breathed his last and is at peace. I think he looks a little sad still. Naturally, there are no pictures to be taken here, either, although I think we did the last time we came.
And so home again, stopping at the grocery store for a few necessities. Bev and I have done some laundry and it is drying by the fireplace. It’s given new meaning to the term hot pants. We have had wine, cheese, salami and crackers for dinner, downloaded two of three cameras and shared some good conversation and laughter. Soon we will head for bed, perchance to sleep.

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