This morning we started early by grabbing some croissants in the breakfast room and went down to meet our guide. Rather than the one scheduled we were met by Karen – our regular guide had “wrenched his back and had a sore neck” from an accident and she was our substitute. She had, however, seemingly never been to Assisi nor had she read the itinerary we were supposed to follow.
In any event we drove off into the countryside filled with olive trees (some as old as 3,000 years according to Karen), wheat, sheep, and vineyards to the mountains region of Umbria and Assisi. At the foot of the mountain we stopped and saw Via Francesca – to Ches’ delight. There were soybean fields and “mimosa” flowers – yellow and very fragrant.
The hills of Umbria rise up to Assisi – hazy due to the olive log smoke. The day was clear and sunny and there were perfectly stacked houses of pink, orange, and cream against a deep blue sky. The people keep the town beautiful, neat clean streets, terracotta tiled roofs, window boxes filled with colorful flowers and vines crowding the hill leading to the Basilica of St. Francis.
We crossed a large open area leading to the entrance. In the Basilica the people were quiet, polite, and reverent and there were nowhere near the crowds we saw at the Vatican. Prayers at St. Francis’ tomb and views of relics and handwritten bibles and song books in the museum as well as decrees from the Popes regarding the founding of the order of St. Francis. Karen bought us small descriptive books and put money in the recorded explanation boxes so we could listen to the recording rather than have her talk.
We had a nice lunch (Casa Editrice Francescon) with wine and Karen was quite surprised that the meal was part of the tour. She had to check the itinerary. After we headed across town to St. Claire’s.
At St. Claire’s we saw the wonderful fresco and the stockings worn by Frances with blood from his stigmata as well as the clothes he and St. Claire wore – including hair shirts. There were also shoes she had made for him by hand to help stop the continuous bleeding. There was also the remains of St. Claire.
Kitty and Ches were hopeful that they could see St. Domino’s where St. Francis and St. Claire had lived but Karen hadn’t a clue to where that might be. We drove around for a bit trying to follow the GPS and finally found the lot. We finally found it. St. Domino’s was a church that Francis and Claire had built under direction of a heavenly vision. Total silence in the church, very simple furnishing. As we were leaving one of the nuns asked if we’d like to see the upstairs, but we had to return.
On the way back to the car we saw a beautiful statue of St. Francis looking out over the countryside. Then into the van and a quick drive back to Rome. We said Goodbye (and good riddance) to Karen then went to our rooms. Shortly after we went out for dinner at Ristorante Leanetti and had a meal outside.