I find it a bit funny that I would write two posts about our time in Assisi. Though I was sure I would enjoy spending some time in this quiet town, it was also the first place on my list that I was ready to give the boot. I kept it on the itinerary solely for my hubs. It wasn’t the first place that I wanted to stop, but as he has a thing for St. Francis, it was just one of those places that we really had to see.
As mentioned in Assisi, Italy :: Part 1, our time in Assisi didn’t go quite as planned. We wound up in town half a day late, and our itinerary suffered from it. We felt frustrated and rushed when we finally made it to our inn, but the people we met along the way helped to make up for it. We first met Stephen and listened to his quirky stories. Then came inn owner, Lanfranco Carli, who knew about three words of English, but quickly had us in high spirits as we comically tried communicating. Later that night we met Fabricio, slow food enthusiast, who prepared us one of our most memorable Italian meals and set our evening off on the right foot.
After our picnic we set out to explore the mystery that Assisi had to offer. We put away our maps and filled up our cups with wine. We were giddy with excitement and were glad to find some peace and quiet after our convoluted day.
We found ourselves on the steps of the basilica where we listened to the quiet strum of a guitar, and to the voices of children singing praise. First in Italian, then in English. “Sing a song that brings peace to the people. Sing a song that brings joy to everyone.” They sat in a circle and sang in perfect unison. They brought a tear my eye, and left me glued to my concrete seat. “I will be gentle with myself, I will be kind to myself, I am a child of the universe, being born each moment,” they steadily sang.
It was the first holy sight in Europe that actually felt holy. There were no hoards of tourists taking pictures. No tour guides spouting off random facts. There was just a grande and quiet church, and a small group of weary travelers, delighting in the sound of these humble voices.
The night was growing late, and it was time for us to move on. We tore ourselves from the church steps and set out to see what other sort of magic that we could find. As we slowly walked down a nearby alley, we heard the voices conclude their presentation with an Italian rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” A favorite Southern classic…
After getting a bit lost on the hillside, we found ourselves back in the town square where more random and spontaneous singing occurred. This time not by quiet and humble children, but instead by loud and happy adults. People held hands and sung in a large circle, struck by joy, and maybe by a bit too much wine. Once again, we sat and watched, this time smiling and laughing. The singing finally broke up, and we made our way home. Full with lots of joy and happiness, and eager for what the next day would bring.
We woke early the next morning to be greeted to a whole new side of Assisi. The quiet and mysterious alleys that we met the night before were replaced by bright and cheery storefronts, and row upon row of St. Francis memorabilia. We took a brisk tour through the basilica, before making our way back to La Bottega dei Sapori for one last visit with Fabricio.
To our disappointment, our friend was not there. Hungry, and needing food for our train ride, we decided to order a bite to eat anyway. This time I wound up with a sandwich of deer salami, a smelly pecorino, arugula, and tomato, while the hubs tried out the porchetta, or grilled pork. Both sandwiches were once again delectable, and well worth our last few euros.
As we were leaving, we ran into one more happy surprise, and had one last visit with our friend Fabricio. He shook his head and kissed his fingers as he sang praises over our sandwich choices. “So good! So good! Mama mia! It’s so hot…”
With a kiss on each cheek, we hugged goodbye in the middle of the town square. Fabricio bid us farewell and made us promise to visit again.
Later that day I joked with the hubs of how most women go to Italy and fall for the young tan boys with flowing locks of hair riding around on vespas. I, on the other hand, fell for the sweet tubby guy with a deep love for truffles…
We boarded our train and sat in silence as we departed the station. Assisi took a strong toll on us, and left us anxious to return. We thought about the people we met and the memories we made as we watched mile after mile of sunflower fields, a giant sea of yellow. The beauty of these fields left me giddy and feeling anxious for our next Italian destination. Each stop was like a dream, and I couldn’t wait to discover what the next town would bring.
Until next time!