The Living, Breathing Assisi of Yesterday and Today

Thursday, September 22, 2022

So weird. Sandy and Lyn have gone on from here to walk the Via Francesca to Rome! I find myself quite envious (oh how quickly I forget how tired I was of the hills – Ha!). Most of our group left yesterday for extended exploration in Europe or for home. I’m feeling sad about that even though I have looked forward to having control of my schedule! So what else is new, right??!? I am of course recognizing the pattern and allowing myself to experience the full range of feelings and also to relish my memories, reflections and changing perspectives.

I had a lovely breakfast at my new hotel, which is superb in EVERY WAY and I would highly recommend staying here at Portico 10 if you ever come to Assisi! The proprietors, Lia and Carmine are amazing, the accommodations clean and centrally located, and very simple yet upscale! We are housed in an ancient building with exposed rock walls, yet modern amenities – and Location, Location, Location (except from 5:45 AM onward this morning when the busy “via” outside my window, left open to allow the crisp, fresh air in, became the announcement of garbage pick up, street cleaners, plus fast cars and motorcycles!!)!

Portico 10’s breakfast offering was substantial with cheeses, cured meats, fruit, yogurt, homemade preserves, pastries and breads by Lia – and, I had my first HOT Cappuccino this entire trip! I’ve had delicious cappuccinos, but they’ve all been lukewarm – I had two very hot cups of coffee today!

As in every bed-and-breakfast we stayed at, the breakfast is included in the lodging cost. I’m not one for a big breakfast, but I’ve been able to provide sustenance for my walking, and also pack myself a lunch and sometimes dinner from our choices.

I met Julie and Roz as they made their way out of town to the train station. They graciously allowed me to join them in their cab so I could get a sense of what I will be encountering in a couple of days when I head out. They are both from Washington and I look forward to keeping in touch with them! I had every intention of visiting San Damiano and the Basilica di San Maria degli Angeli near to the train station, but booked myself too close to a scheduled lunch at 1:00 with another comrade still in town.

I wasn’t sure how to find my way back, even knowing that there was a trail. So rather than visit the churches at all, I just set out to make my way back into town so I would be able to keep my commitment. It was mostly straightforward, yet I was feeling a bit vulnerable as a single woman in the middle of nowhere, along the fields, not knowing where I was or the route I was walking!! Fortunately, I believe in God‘s protection over me, and I could see the horizon of Assisi in front of me – so many landmarks to aim for!

JacQ is an extremely vibrant and outgoing, fun Australian women and we met for lunch at Le Terrazze di Properzio. What a find!! Not only was the view stunning from our terrace table, the menu choices were varied, presentations artistic and the food melt-in-your-mouth Delicious!

We had a slow afternoon and wonderful time together. I’ve really enjoyed these opportunities for extended one on one time in addition to the group dynamic.

There is so much to do and see in Assisi!!! On the other hand, I am finding that I can simply “be” and still experience motion – feeling as if history is living and breathing within and around me – that I am IN the past at the very time that I am here now! It takes some tuning out the tourist din, yet truly comes easily being surrounded by centuries old, bouldered walls and buildings, limestone streets and walkways, arched doorways with unexpected frescoes, aqueducts, fountains, communal washing tubs and cisterns of old, churches and convents and “comunes”, castles and forts with their ramparts, Huge entry arches that previously defined the city’s boundaries, the several “market” areas where one can imagine the vendors (and where some still are), piazzas with incredible views of the mountains, valleys of olive groves and grapevines and the towering edifices of the town, Franciscan fryers walking around in their rope waisted, brown robes, narrow passageways and stairways to ancient-built-upon-one-another apartments, their small balconies filled with flowers (Rick Steves says there is a flower competition every June, yet I could find no reference to it). The very timelessness of Spurit filled Assisi is quite surreal.

Tomorrow I plan to follow a couple of walks which I downloaded from the Rick Steves website. Sooooo, all of that being said – I gave myself permission to tuck in for an early bedtime!!!

The churches I DIDN’t go to today:
San Damiano – which is a Franciscan shrine built upon the spot where St Francis is said to have heard the voice of Christ telling him to rebuild the crumbling church structure and where he wrote the Canticle of the Creatures. This convent was founded by St. Clare, a younger follower of his and ultimately a colleague, who renounced the ways of her rich and noble family and founded the “Poor Clares”.

Basilica do Santa Maria Delgli Angeli – from the tour map, “An imposing Basilica constructed between 1569 and 1679 and crowned by the magnificent dome designed by Alessi. It encloses the Porziuncola (the nucleus of the first Franciscan monastery and the place where St. Clare received the Franciscan cowl from St. Francis in 1211 and the Cappella del Transito where St. Francis died on 3rd October 1226). The frescoes which adorn the Chapel are the works of Lo Spagna. To the side of the Basilica is the Chapel of the Roses with frescoes by Tiberio d’Assisi. The Museum annex contains works by the Maestro di San Francisco, Giunta Pisano and others.”

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