Tue Apr 24-25 – Assisi & Santa Maria
Train to Assisi. Last great breakfast on the 6th floor of our hotel, one flight above our room, overlooking Florence, with a majestic view of the Duomo and the city government bell tower, which we are looking at out the window above our bed. About a 2.5 hour train ride on the regional, stop at every town train, followed by a cab drive out to our hotel with a good view of Assisi on the hill. Good dinner in the hotel which features a spa, a golf course (synthetic turn tee boxes – literally a raised box – and greens with 2 synthetic grass fringes), an un-swimmable pool with algae, and a winery and olive oil processing operations. A work on progress. No air conditioning (but not a problem considering the time of year), and no shuttle to Assisi (6.4 km away). Otherwise, a nice place with great furnishings.
Wed Apr 25 – Assisi
Out the door and walked to the top of Assisi in about 90 minutes. Climbed to the top is a better description. Assisi is built on top of a hill 1000 meters tall, and everything in the place is up or down. Met our guide, Fransesca, and a couple from Ireland for our small group walking tour. In turn we walked, saw and learned about the Roman amphitheater, the Medieval fortifications, a Roman bath and tunnel, the Cathedral of Assisi, Temple of Minerva – a Catholic church built inside a Roman temple with huge pillars, the Basilica of Saint Clare, St. Francis’ place of birth and family home, and the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, his tomb and the miraculous rose garden – plus numerous side trips to churches, chapels, ruins. After ending the tour, we grabbed Panini, pizza, sausages and beer, and caught a bus down the mountain to the cathedral of Santa Maria della Angeli on the way back to our hotel. There we visited the small church that St. Francis fought to preserve in the early 1200s – and it’s entirely inside the cathedral. We also saw where St. Francis died, also in the cathedral. Amazing place. Walked 2-3km back to our hotel, bought 2 bottles of wine and crashed. Tomorrow – on to Rome.