Subject: Follow that Friar!
AKA: Adventures in Assisi
So in case you didn’t know- my favorite saints in no particular order are:
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Saint Pope John Paul II
Saint Anthony of Padua
Saint Francis of Assisi
I missed my chance of going to St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua (near Venice) because of the heat.
I was wavering back and forth about taking a 2 hour train ride from Rome to Assisi to see St. Francis’ Basilica for the same reason.
Good ol DH researched for me and made it happen.
After our late night dinner and drinks celebrating our last night with the tour, the thought of catching the first direct train of the morning didn’t sound very appealing. So we slept in til 630, showered, ate breakfast and walked to the train station and got tickets for the 9 something train with a connection. That was an experience! Very BUSY train station in Rome, known for pickpocketers preying on newbie travelers- and we had no idea what we were doing. But we took the bull by the horns, figured it out and boarded our train, all important stuff still in our possession, with 20 minutes to spare! (Jennifer would be proud!)
Our train was very slloooooowww, and we missed our connection which was starting to stress us out, but then we decided that it would be part of our adventure!
As we arrived at our stop, 8 minutes after our connecting train was to depart, we heard a message in Italian about Assisi. We figured they held the other train. We had no idea where to go once we were off the train. I caught sight of a monk getting off our train, assuming he must be going to Assisi, I hollered DH, “Follow that friar!!!”
Sure enough, he got on the Assisi train, and we made it! Next we needed to catch a bus- but from where? We spotted our friendly friar again, and followed him, and he led us right to where we needed to be! Haha! “Follow that Friar” became the quote of the day!
We climbed the hill to St. Francis’ Basilica which was on 2 levels. We ran into some fellow travelers from our tour group and they gave us some pointers on what else to see, which was another walk up a steep hill. We stopped about 1/2 way for “linner”. It was the worst meal of our trip. I guess we’ve been pretty lucky with excellent food this entire trip, so we really can’t complain. The bread was stale and tasteless, the green salad was just a bowl of lettuce. They didn’t even try to put a tomato or slice of cucumber on it. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. Really! The pasta didn’t look right and we were supposed to get beef but pretty sure it was pork chops.
We kept seeing groups of nuns, and followed them to St. Clare’s Basilica. We saw a group in front of a “bar”. It makes for a funny picture- it was actually a gelato and snack bar.
There are so many churches in this tiny town! One was a first century pagan temple that was converted into a church, just like the Pantheon. Most churches we saw today didn’t allow pictures.
We saw a lot of old ruins today too- wish we had a local tour guide! We took the bus back down to the train station and walked to Saint Mary of the Angels Catholic Church.
This is the church that Jesus told St. Francis to build. 😊
Francis was praying in front of a crucifix (which we saw in St. Clare’s church). He said Jesus told him, “Francis build my church”. Francis took this literally and built a little church.
Jesus meant the people- be “fishers of men”, bring people to Him. Well, it turned out Francis accomplished both tasks.
When we walked into St. Mary of the Angels church, and I saw that little chapel, it was instant chills and tears again. We also saw the room where St. Francis died. Chills!
We spent some time looking at many beautiful frescoes then walked across the street to get a (guess what?) gelato. I had pistachio and strawberry, DH- cherry.
Then it was back to the train station with 45 min. to spare.