Today was the last day of the tour – a free day in Assisi.
And we made the most of it.
After breakfast we wandered up to the central square area of the town, stopping to take photos of interesting things –
We got to the main square, where bleachers were being assembled for activities tonight to do with the May Spring Rites Festival.
We have tickets to attend, and it should be a wonderful way to finish up the tour.
(pictures and story on this tomorrow)
Jennifer had found the house where St. Francis lived and grew up, and we visited his bedroom and the place where his father locked him up for being too compassionate.
We then hopped in the van and drove down to the plain below Assisi, to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli – a huge Cathedral and the most sacred place of the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church.
This is where St. Francis renounced his world of privilege, decided on a life of poverty and to help others – and where the Franciscan Order was established.
The small chapel where all this started is now housed within the Basilica, and it looks strange – this tiny medieval chapel in the middle of a massive cathedral. But it’s this chapel that attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and worshippers each year.
After sneaking off dozens of photos – under the tuft-tutt eyes of guards – we walked across the road to a well hidden local gem of a restaurant, and our final meal together; a lunch of local meats, cheeses, beautiful wines, scrambled eggs with truffle, risotto with truffle, spaghetti with truffle, beef with truffle, and truffle with truffle.
Oh yes, and Peter has become fixated with Buffalo Mozarella so we made sure to order a serving. He will go into withdrawal when he returns to Melbourne. I feel an importing business coming on.
After lunch we drove back up to Assisi – and then said our farewells to Elena, who has been a most wonderful van driver and assistant and general all round help and lovely young lady. We will all miss her.
She dropped me at the Perugia airport for me to pick up a smaller rental, while she drove the van back to Florence.
It’s been an intense and incredible two weeks. And I will write separately on that in the coming days. But everyone has had profound experiences on this journey. For one or two, it’s triggered some major reshuffling.
For Jennifer and me, it’s the completion of about 12 months planning, and we’re mightily pleased that everyone has had such a wonderful time, and everything has gone to plan without incident.
More than that though, we too have had some profound experiences – and this two weeks will live with us for a very long time.
Tonight we made our way back to the square to see the last night of the Spring Rites festivities – hundreds of townsfolk dressed up in medieval costume, with heralds and musicians – and several teams of operatic singers doing a kind of “Battle Rap” amongst themselves.
The music was extraordinary. It was hard to believe these were live performances, they sounded so good. They were cheered on by thousands of spectators, who clapped and booed like it was a footy match.
We sat on the bleachers and watched this all, and marvelled at the quality of the singing. What a great way to complete the tour.
Tomorrow we go our separate ways – Ken and Angie are staying on in Assisi a few more days; Marie and Patty are heading back to their respective homes, as is Peter, while Jennifer and I prepare to fly to Turkey the following day.
Tonight Peter and I did a calculation – we added up the total metres climbed during our nine days, and the total metres descended. Over nine days we averaged a per day climb of 600m, and a per day descent of 640m.
The climb to O’Cebreiro is 600m or thereabouts – so each day for nine days we averaged an O Cebreiro climb, and an even bigger descent.
No wonder we felt knackered.
Unfortunately I can’t post my full contingent of shots this evening – because the internet is so weak – however I’m hoping that either in Rome or Turkey I will have better connections, and I will post those shots you’ve missed out on.