Grand Tour of Italy Day 9 Assisi

Day 9 Sunday March 24, 2013
We leave Florence behind us and head southeast to Assisi in Umbria. The skies are once again overcast and there is a threat of rain. We are headed to the city where Saint Francis founded the Order of Friars Minor. On 13 March 2013, upon his election as Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, becoming Pope Francis. We are hoping there aren't too many people visiting Assisi with us.

We travel from Tuscany into Umbria, which I think has much more spectacular views.
Since the 1980's Umbria has become quite popular as an agritourism mecca. Many of the old farms welcome tourists to stay and "live" off the land.
More images of the Umbrian Countryside, click here.

We arrive in Assisi and can see the city high up on a hill.
Never fear, they have an escalator to take you up to the city if you don't feel like making the climb. The first thing we encounter is the Basilica di Santa Chiara, the Basilica of St. Clare.
The church is dedicated to and contains the remains of Saint Clare of Assisi, a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, known today as the Order of Saint Clare.

We have free time to wander around Assisi and grab lunch before meeting up with Brother Michael, who will walk us through the key points of the Basilica of San Francesco.

It is Palm Sunday so many of the churches are celebrating Mass. Here, rather than giving out palm fronds the give out Olive Branches.
Jay and I decide to hike up to Rocca Maggiore. A medieval castle that dominates the skyline.
The views from up here were breathtaking. The hike up was well worth it!
More images of Rocca Maggiore, click here.

We slowly make our way back down into the city and by now are pretty hungry. We stop at a little cafe and grab a bite.
The cafe was very disappointing. They had a great menu but when we asked for certain items they were out. They were limited to hamburger, ciabatta, pizza and a only few other things. At this point we're pretty hungry so we stay put and order. I get the Ciabatta with prosciutto and mozzarella and Jay ordered the Pizza Pomodoro. With cafe americano and acqua the bill is 9.50 euros.

More images around Assisi, click here.

We head down the hill and spot the rest of the group sitting on the stone walls in front of the basilica. I keep shooting while waiting for Brother Michael. The Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica Papale di San Francesco) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor—commonly known as the Franciscan Order. St. Francis was born and died here. The basilica is one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in Italy. With its accompanying friary, the basilica is a distinctive landmark to those approaching Assisi. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
After a slideshow about the Basilica, conducted by Brother Michael from Philadelphia, we walk back up the hill to the Lower Basilica. We enter the Lower Basilica and descend down the narrow stairway to the Crypt where St. Francis was buried in 1818. We slowly wind our way back up to the Lower Basilica and then make our way up to the Upper Basilica. No photos are allowed inside, and I'm going crazy not being allowed to document the history I'm viewing.

I found the Reliquary Chapel the most fascinating. It contains: the silver chalice and plate the St. Francis used for the Eucharist; the Veli di Lino-the cloth Jacopa wiped her friend's brow with on his deathbed; the haircloth St. Francis wore as penance; he tunic and slippers from his last days on earth; a papal document from 1223 legitimizing the Franciscan order.

More images of the Basilica, click here.

We all gather at the bottom of the hill and board the bus to check in at our hotel. For the next two nights we stay at the Hotel LaTerraza (which also has a spa that some folks took advantage of!)
We have a little time to freshen up and explore the property before dinner at 7:30 PM.
Dinner was Antipasto with bellini: bread, olive oil, fried mozzarella, fried veggies and mini pizzas.
Followed by ravioli then veal, green beans and potatoes.
Tonight was also Paulette's Birthday.
Or should I say BHIRTDAY...
The rest of us had a lovely panna cotta with fresh fruit.
More images from the hotel, click here. And once again, Jay and I and Jen and Morgan are "recycling" the leftover wine!! Francesco Rossa Dell'Umbria, Chiara Bianco Dell'Umbria.

Next up Perugia!
Pubblicare domani!!! (Post tomorrow)

Assisi March 24 Day 9
Grand Tour of Italy
Go Ahead Tours
March 16-30, 2013
Copyright ©2013 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
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