Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Valfabbrica to Assisi!!!
13.4 kilometers, 8.3 miles
It seems we left Florence in the heat of summer with its sweltering temperatures and high humidy, to enjoy the perfect walking temperatures of fall!
And we are all loving the cool morning air!! After breakfast (more of the same), we set out for a short walk, though we still encountered substantial hills to climb a ridge separating the two towns. Soon we were able to see Assisi’s Rocca Maggiore fortress and then the beloved Basilica San Francesco. “Rocca Maggiore is a majestic, imposing fortress dating back to the 14th century, which dominates the town of Assisi from above, offering magnificent views and charming panoramas of the surrounding valley below, from Perugia, in the north, to Spoleto, in the south. The original fortress was built, perhaps, before the year 1000, during the time of the barbaric invasions, but the first documented information about Rocca Maggiore dates back to 1174, when Assisi was conquered by the imperial troops led by Christian of Mainz, chancellor of Germany during the reign of emperor Frederick I Barbarossa.
In 1198, Rocca Maggiore was destroyed by a riot, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the papal governor of Pope Innocent III. The fortress was rebuilt in 1356 at the behest of Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, as a lookout, to consolidate the fortifications of the Papal State.
In 1360, the same Cardinal Albornoz commissioned the construction of Rocca Minore, in order to consolidate the part of the fortification towards the mountain, and connected the two fortresses through a massive wall structure.
In the next centuries, the fortress was enlarged and modified by various occupants – by Biordo Michelotti, lord of Perugia, between 1395 and 1398, by Jacopo Piccinino, lord of Assisi, in 1458, by Pope Pius II in 1460, by Sixtus IV in 1478, and by Paul III in 1535, reaching its current appearance.
From the 17th century, Rocca Maggiore was abandoned, but it remained intact until the present day.” (Italyscapes.com)
We paused at a viewpoint with a wooden cross atop a cairn of stones left by past pilgrims. We had views of the valley between Assisi and Perugia where the Tiber and Chiascio Rivers have their confluence.
As hard as the walk turned out to be, we all enjoyed what we knew would be our last hours of being together, the camaraderie we had developed, and the rewarding, shared accomplishment of our endeavors. We knew soon we would be in Assisi where our journey would culminate. (However, Sandy and one other trekker in our group are going on to Rome!! Three people in our group have already done Assisi to Rome in a previous trek). We did take an alternative route that is fairly new, taking us through a national park instead of going along the busy road. It was lovely and steep! In fact, in the course of these past two weeks there have been so many changes the night before, the morning of, or in the middle of the day, that it has become a norm that our previous outlines are not exactly accurate. Today – some of us didn’t even realize we were arriving at our destination when we did! On this journey there came a point of letting go of any (perceived) control, to (try) to turn things over and not to justify changes – to just follow our leader… Giovanni is an excellent leader and we have long since put our trust in him for our daily pathway.
And then, WE ARRIVED!! We were able to walk DOWNHILL to the Basilica di San Francesco!! It was a bit of a culture shock because there were were many, many tourists – yet the bells were ringing at high noon, as we made our way to the pilgrim‘s office (Statio Perigrinorum) which was scheduled to close at 12:30. It was an emotional moment of celebration, realization of goals, and satisfaction of accomplished dreams. WOW!!! This never gets old! We queued up to fill out paperwork and to receive the final stamp on our passports – and our official “testimonium”. It was truly a special personal moment as well as a shared vignette.
We were able to check into our historical hotel in the heart of old town Assisi and it’s medieval, cobblestone and walled alleyways. We thus were able to savor the moment. Briefly – we had a meeting with guide Guissepi scheduled at 3:30!! I will share more about that tomorrow, because it was incredible, and there’s just so much information! I will be in Assisi for a couple more days, so I will expound upon our guided tour as well as other details that I uncover as I go along!
Our evening concluded with an amazing dinner at Ristoranti La Stalla – Their specialty being grilled meats, and we sat right by the grill!! It was impressive and very hot! In addition to a selection of meats cooked in the charcoal and flames, we were served a cheesy polenta with mushrooms that was excellent as well as a salad and delicious tiramisu for dessert.
It really hasn’t sunk in that we do not get up and walk again tomorrow! Crazy!