Monday, March 23, 2009

Assisi and Perugia


After a poor night's sleep due to anxiety over our loss to Ancona, we awoke to a beautiful sunny, but still very crisp, windless Sunday morning in Assisi.  I highly recommend the Hotel San Rufino-Il Duomo if you ever pass through Umbria, cozy, quaint, great location are a few of it's attributes.

How to start the day?  Why with a cappuccino and a marmalade cornetto of course but where?

Caffe' Duomo

We saw this nice little Caffe' on our walk Saturday night.  It was only 30 meters from our Hotel so we gave it a shot.

Partially Hidden Sign

When we saw this sign hiding behind a trash can by the front door, we knew we came to the right place.

A MUCH happier Laurie!

She is much sassier after her morning cappuccino!  We were now ready for a day of adventure and started our Rick Steves' "Walking Tour of Assisi".

Fascinating Wall

They just don't make them like this anymore.  The first thing you notice about Assisi is the typical medieval architecture, some as old as the 12th century, which adds to the romance of the city on a walk with your honey.

A Little Color, If You Please.

Many of these old homes have been spruced up with the addition of these colorful flower pots and in a few weeks this spring with the lively hues of their blooms.

Laurie taking a break.

The grass area on the left is the remnants of the Roman Amphitheater.  Many of the stones from this structure were recycled in medieval times into some of Assisi's buildings.

On the hill top to the right sits Rocca Minore, a small private castle... a PRIVATE castle?

Sometimes moss growing on your roof is a good thing!

It definitely makes you more photogenic on this typical Assisi street.

A View of the Backside of the Cathedral San Rufino

Rufino was Assisi's first bishop who was martyred and buried here in the third century.  Rufino, not Francis, is the patron saint of Assisi.

Francis is Italy's patron saint for now, Padre Pio is coming on strong and could take the honor away from Francis much like Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego eventually was changed to Qualcomm Stadium.

Entering the Cathedral San Rufino

Rufino was martyred for his faith by having a huge stone hung around his neck and then drowning as it pulled him into a hearby Chiascio River.

Before you enter the Cathedral, built in 12th century Romanesque style with a Neoclassical interior, you get to see this statue of a lion about to bite off the head of this tasty Christian.  If that didn't want to make someone join the Catholic Church what would?

Cathedral San Rufino's Baptismal Font
NO PICTURES ALLOWED!

In 1182 this exact old baptism font was used to welcome a baby boy into the flock, one Francesco Bernardone.  Francesco was the son of a wealthy local cloth merchant who today we know as St. Francis of Assisi.

As a youth, Francis was handsome, intelligent and well dressed.  A natural born charmer, as a teenager he used his powers to their maximum in nights of wine, women and song.  Things would change soon...

The Flying Buttresses of the Basilica di Santa Chiara 

This Basilica, Umbrian Gothic in style, is dedicated to St. Clare or Santa Clara in Oxnard, California where Mike and Vanessa will wed this summer.  St. Clare founded the Order of the Poor Clares.  St. Clare was a follower of St. Francis' message of a simple, pious life style.  St. Francis himself welcomed her at age 18 into a life of poverty by cutting her hair and giving her a simple brown tunic to wear. 

A Wax Figure of St. Clare
NO PICTURES ALLOWED!

In the Basilica, St. Clare's remains lay under this wax figure.

The View of Umbria from outside Basilica Santa Chiara

At the bottom of this picture you can see the olive trees that the Poor Clares have tended since the 1200's.

To the right is the Basilica di San Francesco.

Gorgeous Umbria serves as a background.

A little time to let our weary legs rest

Here with Laurie as she tries to imitate St. Clare's basic look of the saints last 40 years of life.

The Piazza Comune

Assisi's main square, the church in the background was in Roman times the Temple of Minerva.

Wait is that the face of Chuck Conners, "The Rifleman", miraculously oozing out of this wall on Piazza Comune?

Getting ready for spring

St. Francis
Continuing on the life of St. Francis, this statue in front of his Basilica, depicts our hero as he returns to Assisi in a very depressed state from the Crusades because of a dream in which Christ tells him to leave the army and go home to await another dream.

The view from the front of the Basilica di San Francesco

The Basilica di San Francesco
NO PICTURES ALLOWED!

I graduated from St. Francis High School in La Canada-Flintridge, California in 1965.  I thought it best NOT to go for the illegal trifecta today in here.

The Giotto frescoes were fantastic but the religious highlight was the underground tomb of St. Francis.  We bought two candles at the tomb, one for each of our two sons.

Having finished our tour of Assisi, we decided to drive about 25 minutes to the nearby town of Perugia famed for its vibrant college town atmosphere and CHOCOLATE!
 
SURPRISE!  When we got there we found a huge festival occurring in the old hill top town complete with bell ringers from all over Italy with portable bells of all sizes.

BIG Bells

Note the wooden brace on each man's shoulder to keep him from losing his balance and getting hit, and probably killed, by a bell.

Medium Bells
The man sitting down is ringing all of these bells except for the bigger one in the middle.

Hammer Time!

The Bell Ringer's Union hard at work!

The guy on the left is working solo on this "keyboard" attached by ropes to the bells while his Union brothers critique him.

I wonder if they have a Project Labor Agreement?

Will she someday be the first to cross what appears to be the strict male only code of the Bell Ringers?

Laurie couldn't resist a shot at the bells!

To hear these Bell Ringers at work go to the three vlogs at the bottom of this post.

The view from Perugia, that is Assisi on the hillside in the distance.

Assisi at Sunset

Outside of the Taverna dei Consoli

I had the Tagliatelle al Tartufo Nero di Norica (pasta with black truffles) while Laurie opted for the Stringozzi Umbri al Carciofi.  Her dish is named after the style of pasta that resmbles the cords poor people used to strangle priests who extorted sky-high tithes!

Both dishes were outstanding!

The countryside on the drive back to the Adriatic Sea coast.

As I said, it snowed Saturday night in the Apennine Mountains


Small Sized Bells


Medium Sized Bells


Quasimodo Sized Bells

Laurie says:  Assisi was a delightful little town in every way, but as many of you know, it's hard to keep up with George.  He did let me have breaks while we walked the steep hill streets and I have found muscles I hadn't felt in years.  I am sure I will  be sore for days, but it was worth it!

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Wow! After going to 12 years of Catholic school named after St. Clare, it is pretty cool to actually see a picture of her...and yes she looks just like her statue!