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Beautiful Assisi...

I know I've been dragging my feet writing the rest of my trip report but here it is...

I left beautiful Orvieto on Sunday morning, October 1, 2017.

I arrived to the train station early so I had a long time to wait before my train arrived. While sitting in the small lounge, I met a nice couple from Australia. We talked about our travels and ended up sitting together on the train to Terontola then onto the next train as well. They were traveling to Perugia, so we bid each other farewell when we parted since their stop was before mine.
When I arrived to Assisi, and while waiting for the bus (bus “C”), I overheard a group of young people speaking Spanish; I talked with them briefly and found out that they are students from Spain who are studying in Perugia. They were taking a day trip to Assisi. When the bus arrived, we all boarded and the bus was packed, so many of us had to stand.

When the bus arrived to Piazza Matteotti, I got off and realized that I’d forgotten to call the hotel owner, Stefano, who had offered to meet me at the bus stop to help me with my luggage. When I called him, he told me where to start walking and he met me within 3 minutes. It's a good thing that he did, because there is a flight of stairs to reach the front door of his hotel, Hotel Pallota.
Once I checked in, he carried my luggage up to my room (“Viola”- violet), and then he opened the window to show me the amazing view of the church of Santa Chiara (St. Clare). I thanked him, unpacked some of my clothes before going down to the breakfast room.

Hotel Pallota is a small family owned hotel but it feels more like a B&B. The owner and his staff are very friendly and helpful. Stefano, the owner, is such a kind and generous man who runs his hotel with great pride. The hotel is clean and comfortable. The breakfast/Tea room is stocked with bottled water, various teas, nuts, dried fruit, yogurt, cake, and biscotti, which are always available to his guests. Since I’d arrived too late to eat lunch at a restaurant, Stefano offered me and another couple, who’d also just checked in, some cake and tea. I later learned that his mother, Margherita, is the chef at their restaurant and she bakes all the cakes and tarts for the hotel as well as for their trattoria.

Once I’d finished eating my snack, I walked down to the church of St. Stefano, a very small, and simple Romanesque church found on a small side street (Vicolo Santo Stefano). The church is very quiet and peaceful and as I sat there I couldn’t help but wonder how many others had set foot on this church in the past few centuries.
Afterwards, I walked along Via San Francesco, the main street that leads to the Basilica of St. Francis. There are so many shops along this street that I took my time as I stopped to browse around some of them. I wondered how they all stayed in business since many of these shops were selling similar items. When I finally arrived to the basilica, the sun was setting and it was a perfect opportunity to take pictures of the lovely church without the crowds.

Once the sun had disappeared behind the green Umbrian hills, I walked back up to Piazza del Comune to find Trattoria La Pallota, (under an archway across from the Temple of Minerva) where I enjoyed a delicious dinner. I ordered the veal scallopini with Marsala sauce and roasted potatoes with fennel. There were a couple of men sitting at a table nearby and they had ordered the roasted pigeon. I watched them curiously, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, as they ate this small bird ever so politely using only a knife and fork.

After dinner, I walked back to my hotel and went up the spiral metal staircase to the top floor where there's a small sitting room with amazing views of the city. Wow! I thought to myself. I’m here in this beautiful city and I can’t believe my eyes!

Continued...

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Monday, October 2, 2017.

I woke up at around 6:30AM then heard the church bells ringing at 7AM. I took a shower and went down to the breakfast room where I met a nice couple from Colorado, and we talked briefly.

After breakfast I walked up to Rocca Maggiore, a medieval fortress built on the summit of a hill above Assisi. As I was admiring the scenery, I met a lovely woman from Ireland. She told me that she and her friend would be walking the Camino to Rome starting the following day, 100 kilometers! They had planned to walk around 20 Km per day. I told her that she was brave because I didn’t think I could walk that far!
She asked me if I'd seen the beautiful Virgin Mary's exhibition at the Santa Maria Della Rose church. I did not know about it and thanked her for letting me know.

After visiting the fortress and taking some great photos of the basilica down below and of the fortress itself, I walked down to the church to see the exhibition. The exhibition is an amazing display of 33 small wooden statues of the Virgin Mary, carved out of 33 different types of wood (from around the world) representing Jesus’ life on Earth. To my surprise, the woman I’d met at the fortress showed up when I was contemplating which statue to get. She told me that she’d decided to buy a couple of the beautiful sculptures as gifts for friends. Once we were done with our purchases, she invited me to have coffee with her, but I told her I was planning to have lunch and asked her if she'd join me, and she agreed. We had a nice time talking for a long time over a delicious lunch at Trattoria Pallotta. She ordered the Cannelloni and I ordered the spinach & cheese ravioli with tomato sauce.

After lunch we walked to the church of Santa Clare and spent a while visiting this beautiful church. We then visited an exhibit of beautiful and intricate cross-stitch tablecloths made by women belonging to a group called the ‘Academia Punto Assisi’. Afterwards, walked down to St. Francis Basilica where she was to meet her friend, who had just walked from Florence, but she could not find him. I helped her look for him (even though I didn’t know what he looked like) but after a few minutes, we exchanged our contact information and bid each other farewell.

After visiting the magnificent Basilica of Saint Francis, I walked back toward Santa Clare's church to get a gelato at Gelateria Sensi, (recommended by Stefano), and then walked over to Piazza St. Clare to sit across the fountain. When I arrived to the piazza, I ran into a couple I'd met outside the train station (the day before) while waiting for the bus. They are a nice couple from Tampa Florida. They told me that they are both retired and enjoy traveling all over the world.
We talked about how they had spent their day, then we walked together down toward the basilica because they wanted to see the shop that sells beautiful watercolor pictures and postcards of Assisi. After a few minutes we bid each other farewell because the owner of the B&B where they were staying would be picking them up shortly.

That evening I had a piece of fig tart and a cup of tea in the breakfast room, then went up the stairs to the top room and admired the city lights once again. I had such a nice day exploring Assisi and making new friends.

Continued below...

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

After breakfast, I decided to visit the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels below the old city of Assisi near the train station.
The church was commemorating the life of St. Francis, and the buses were not running that morning until almost noon, because some of the streets were blocked due to the “president of Italy visiting the basilica” for a special church service.
While waiting for the bus, I met three young people from Korea and China who we were traveling to Rome that day. We talked for almost an hour about traveling and life in general. It was so nice to just sit and talk and not worry about having to get someplace.

The Santa María degli Angeli Basilica is a lovely church with amazing frescoes and paintings. My favorite aspect about this church was the tiny chapel found within the church, known as the ‘Porziuncola’.

Continued...

Since this was a special day, I decided to stay at the church till the end of the service.
Afterwards I visited the rose garden with a great bronze sculpture of St. Francis, and then I found the gift shop. If you’re looking for religious souvenirs or gifts, you must visit this gift shop.

By the time I had finished my visit, it was almost 3PM and I was very hungry since it was past my lunchtime. I decided to look around across the street from the church and found a small place where they sell prepared food to “take away” or one can eat there too.. I asked the young woman behind the counter if she could heat up the food for me and she said yes. So I ordered a roasted chicken leg, roasted potatoes and a mixed salad (lettuce & tomatoes).
My lunch was simply delicious!

I then walked to the train station and waited for the bus that would take me back up to Piazza Matteotti. On the way back to my hotel, I visited the church of San Rufino (St. Rufinus), the church I’d walked past on the way to/from Piazza Matteotti where the bus stop is. This cathedral is one of the oldest in Assisi and its beautiful façade includes three rose windows, a large one in the center and a small one on each side, plus a simple bell tower. It’s interior is simple and beautiful. The floor is unique mainly because sections of it are covered with glass and one can see parts of the old church upon which the church was built on. There is a crypt museum within the church but I did not visit it.

When I returned to my room, I rested for a while then went down to the breakfast room to have some tea and a small piece peach marmalade tart. At around 8PM, I heard loud drums playing, I remembered that this was the day that the Feast of San Francesco was taking place, so I walked to Piazza del Comune to find a crowd of people enjoying a show of young men, dressed in medieval costumes, waving and tossing their flags in the air. After the flag tossing show, there was free food for everyone served at the various tables that had been set out for the occasion. There were various types of sandwiches, porchetta; prosciutto; and cheese.
They were also serving faro soup and legume soup, fried rice and cheese balls (supplì) and free drinks, including wine.
Since I was not hungry, I only tasted the two types of soups and a couple of supplì. The festivities continued with music and singing by various groups dressed in medieval outfits. There were also a few merchants selling their arts & crafts.
Many of the shops around the piazza and a few on Via San Francesco remained open that evening.

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It was a spectacular evening as many oil lamps were burning in various places on the piazza.
I asked someone if the basilica of St. Francis was also lit up with oil lamps, and they said yes, so I walked all the way down to the basilica, only to find out that there were some oil lamps along a wall on the way to the basilica, but the church itself didn't have oil burning lamps. So I walked back up to the piazza, watched a group of men playing an accordion and singing.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time and it was a lovely evening. I returned to my room at around 9:45PM. The festivities continued till around 11PM, then the night became quiet and peaceful once again and I fell sleep.

On my last day in Assisi, I decided to go to Spello for a day trip-- will post separately

Ciao!

Priscilla

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Beautiful report, Priscilla. Must get back to Assisi soon.

I almost got locked inside Rocca Maggiore on my first visit to Assisi - I was so mesmerized at the views that I forgot the closing time, and the security person had to look for me!

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I am so happy you had a fulfilling visit! We, too, were enchanted by Assisi. Lovely people, great food, and so clean and well-kept!

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Lovely trip report, Priscilla. Assisi has been on my bucket list and now I can't wait to go!

I notice that you seem to connect with other travelers on this trip. Do you think being a solo traveler has made this easier?

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Zoe,

I almost got locked inside Rocca Maggiore on my first visit to Assisi -

Oh no! That would not have been good!

Laurel,
It's good to hear that you were also enchanted by beautiful Assisi!

Christine,

I notice that you seem to connect with other travelers on this trip. Do you think being a solo traveler has made this easier?

Yes, definitely!