September 30, 2012

Yet Another Beautiful Medieval Hill Town - Our Visit to Assisi

We left Siena at a reasonable hour, plugged Assisi, Italy into the GPS and off we went. We actually arrived at Assisi without too many problems; I think I may have only missed one roundabout turn. All in all, it was a pleasant and uneventful journey which took us about two hours. Along the way, we passed some beautiful scenery as we left Tuscany and entered the northern part of Umbria.

We passed a pretty large lake, Lake Trasimeno, which is the largest lake on the Italian peninsula, with a surface area of 128 KM, slightly less than Lake Como. No major river flows directly into or out of Lake Trasimeno and the water level fluctuates significantly according to rainfall levels and the seasonal demands from the towns, villages and farms near the shore. It was kind of cool to see the lake appear on the GPS -- almost the entire screen was blue and then it showed our car in the very left-hand side of the screen.

The view of the city from down the road was pretty spectacular.
Located in northern Umbria, Assisi was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208. Assisi was hit by two devastating earthquakes in September 1997. Massive damage was caused to many of the historical sites,including the Basilica di San Francesco, which reopened less than 2 years after the earthquake. Although much of the damage done by the earthquake has been repaired, there's still some remaining damage.
Although it's a Sunday, Assisi is filled with bus loads of day tourists. Conveniently, there's a policeman at the entrance to the walled city and he provides us with a permit for us to drive into the center to drop off our baggage (and my passengers) at the hotel. Naturally, this being a "hill town" there's no such thing as "easy access" to the front door of the hotel, but I drove as close as I could. Poor April had to lug most of our luggage up about 20 very steep steps into the hotel. In very HOT and humid weather. I think it was probably 86 that day. But don't feel TOO sorry for April. Once again, as the designated river, I had to find parking, which was outside the walls of the city and hike back to the hotel. Also in said 86-degree heat. Let's just say that I wasn't haven't a very good hair day with all that humidity.
It was pretty much a vertical climb back to our hotel, so I would stop periodically and snap some photos. The entire time I was walking, I chanted inside my head "feel the burn." Seriously, my calves were ON FIRE! I just keep telling myself how GOOD this is for me and hopefully I'll lose some weight!

I finally make it back to the hotel and discover the rest of my traveling buddies sitting at a table enjoying some cold beverages. Apparently our rooms weren't yet ready, so naturally, I joined them. They had very limited beverage service, but I asked for some prosecco; the hotel employee then says "would you like a glass" in which I reply, "I'll take the WHOLE bottle," to which she laughed. I was seriously hot and seriously in need some something wet and cold. I know what you're thinking "Sherry isn't going to drink an entire bottle of prosecco" but I must confess is was a "mini-bottle" - but I'm pretty sure I could have drank an entire large bottle by myself.

While we enjoyed our beverages, our rooms became available, so we took a few minutes to settle in. Since we hadn't eaten anything since our continental breakfast earlier that day back in Siena, we decided to head out to find something for a late lunch. Our original intent was to find something "light" since I had made a reservation for dinner at 7:00. However, after the challenge for both Dad and Joan of walking pretty much uphill the entire walk, that didn't happen.

Luckily for us, we pretty stopped at the first restaurant we found and it was full of the local "after church" crowd. And the food was delicious! We ended up making this our main meal of the day; mostly because the food was so good and mostly because we knew that nobody would feel like returning up the hill later that night.

After our scumptious meal, we continued our walk uphill to explore Assisi, stopping frequently to browse in shops and allow us all to rest our aching calves. They had some delicious looking bakery windows, but we didn't try anything as we were all still too full from lunch.

I had to take a picture of this charming gelateria/pastry shop. I wonder if their gelato was any good? Again, still too full/hot to think about eating anything else.

We arrived at a piazza and find a bench for Dad and Joan. April and I wander off to snap a few pictures and browse some shops.

This structure dates from Roman times, but I'm unsure what it was originally.

After wandering around for a couple of hours, we decided to return to the hotel. We were all kind of tired and the thought of just relaxing in our hotel rooms was kind of inviting. April and I did wander out shortly before sunset so we could take some photos and find some snacks since we weren't really eating dinner that night. The views were pretty amazing.


We tried the "Sean" method of photography in this picture. Please note that my head isn't really THAT BIG.

And then this spectacular sunset:

The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful. I took advantage of good internet speeds to get some work done and we all went to bed fairly early since we had a busy day of driving ahead of us on Monday.
You can view the rest of my Assisi pictures on Shutterfly.

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