It’s been an extraordinary day.
We left Valfabbrica early, and headed off in cool sunny weather. The heat had yet to settle in. On the outskirts of town is a wall of hand painted murals depicting the story of St. Francis.
By the way, we’ve completed this walk without it raining once. The two weeks before we started, it poured down. Even in Florence, the day before we started, it was raining. But the first day we set off from La Verna, it was sunny – and it hasn’t rained since.
So, my record for rainless walking tours is intact!
Now, blatant self aggrandisement moment over, back to today…
We all wanted to walk this 14km stage into Assisi – even though it was going to be another difficult one – with two big ascents totalling nearly 600m.
This countryside once again was breathtaking. I’ve said this before, but this is the most beautiful walk I’v ever been on. But it’s also been the hardest – for me, most probably because of the chest infection I’ve carried for most of it. It has sapped me of energy, and I’ve found it hard to breath going up the hills. But it hasn’t stopped me, just slowed me.
The others have powered. Truly powered.
We stopped at a cairn with a cross on it – surrounded by rocks and pebbles left there by pilgrims. We decided to leave our bottle of barnacles, as a mark of respect.
(Thank you Lynda and Dale Lozner – we all wore our barnacle bottles each day, and I think it was fitting we left them there, in sight of Assisi… )
As we got closer, Assisi loomed. From afar, it looked magnificent.
At the base of Assisi is a statue of Padre Pio.
We were in good spirits when Marie walked up –
After a final long and steep climb we finally reached the gates of the town.
We’d made it!
We celebrated by having a very long lunch at a Trattoria just inside the gates. We drank too much wine and laughed too hard and toasted Drop Bears too many times.
Peter and Ken had written a song about Jennifer, and how she (allegedly) has to put up with me – and over lunch they sang it to the old Donovan song Jennifer Juniper… I have a video of it which I will post separately. It’s hilarious, with Marie getting up and dancing.
Afterwards we went to the Basilica on the edge of the Assisi escarpment, which put the walk into a solemn context. We were humbled by the magnificence of the church, and by the spirit of St. Francis that enveloped us so very quickly and powerfully.
We went down into the lower levels, to the tomb where St. Francis’ relics are kept. Jennifer and I have been there many times now, and yet it still hits you with enormous power. The energies in that Basilica, and in Assisi generally, are extremely potent.
It’s the kind of place where you just have to sit and think. Some people pray, some people meditate, and some simply take stock of things that are important, and not so important, in their lives. You can’t walk down into those lower tombs of the St. Francis Basilica and not be deeply affected.
As hard as the walk has been, we all feel very strongly that it’s been worth it, to end up here in Assisi – one of the most powerful spiritual centres on this planet.
Congratulations to you all 👏and thank you for sharing it with me. 💗 I am sure the rest of your PGS family feels the same.
Waiting for the video…. 😉
Light and Love Ingrid
Dear Ingrid, so very sweet of you, thank you. It’s been an incredible tour – and ending in Assisi is just amazing. We might do another one next year!
It’s been fantastic reading the daily posts. It has motivated me to at least go to Assisi soon. I’m heading back to Arlparra tomorrow for another short teaching stint and then home to welcome a beautiful new bambino. (First time grandmother who will not spoil the babe 👼) Thanks for the daily updates. They have inspired us to again visit Italy. Cheers Moyna
Hey Moyna, lovely to hear from you! Yes it’s been a terrific tour, and you should come to Assisi. It’s a very special place. My goodness a grandma – you’re too young!! 😆😆😆
Can’t wait to see the video (based on true life tee hee )!
What a perfect place for the barnacle bottles! Love it!!
I agree with Ingrid. Thanks for sharing a beautiful camino with us all.
Can you make India sunny as well please!
Hey Lynda – trying to get the video up soon. Will post it when I can. It’s very funny. We’ve had a great time, and India will be equally as amazing.
Congratulations to you Bill and Jennifer as the leaders and the rest of the walkers, well done, I have followed your travails every day and am in awe. You will probably no turn around and walk back to Florence. Seriously, well done and great photos. James Anderson
Hi James, many thanks mate. Yes it’s been a terrific walk, through stunning scenery and equally stunning restaurants! And Assisi is just so so special. Hope everything is going ok with your recovery. Bill
Woohoo! Another mission accomplished. Good on you all! I’ve only been there once in 1999 with my parents but you described my experience to a tea! I was so moved by the energy of Assisi that I needed to be alone. I remember coming out of the church and walking over to the wall overlooking the valley to the west I believe and feeling this enormous power and serenity coming over me. I will return some day. Thank you all for reminding me. Xoxo
Hey Jill – such a shame you couldn’t have done this tour. It would have had a big impact on you, I’m sure. But you’ll get to Assisi again one day, I’m sure. Thank you for following us each day!
Good work guys. It’s been nice to live vicariously through you.
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Thanks Donna – you have been with us in spirit, as has Greg. Bill
Drove down to Portland, OR yesterday to spend the day with a niece there on business. She arrived 12 hours late due to flight issues so we just had dinner with her and returned. The dinner couldn’t have been more perfect. An Italian restaurant with an Italian waiter from Milan, five course meal with truffles on/in two dishes, Italian wine and a conversation with the waiter on Assisi. He said it was an overpowering spiritual feeling just being there. Life changing feelings. Awesome dinner!
Your time in Italy appears to be right up there with the most memorable trips you’ve taken.
Hi Lynda – yes absolutely. It was a very powerful pilgrimage, this one. Thank you once again for those barnacle bottles. They meant a lot to all of us. bb xx
You’re welcome but it really was just a small offering. Glad you enjoyed them and found such a spiritual place to leave them.