We arrived in Assisi in the early afternoon, before our hostel opened at 4pm. We waited outside in a light rain. Relief washed over me as I realized that the only sounds were the breeze and my own footsteps. It felt incredible to finally be out of the big city. An older Italian man waited at the door with us. We can't speak Italian, and he couldn't speak English, but somehow we managed communicate enough to find out that he had walked several hundred kilometers to get there. He showed us a map that marked the pilgrimage he was on. Somehow, the one and a half mile walk to the train station didn't look so exhausting after talking to him.
When we finally checked in to the hostel, we spoke to the receptionist about catching a bus into the city center. "Why? It's right THERE, just WALK!" So, we walked.
It was at least a mile uphill to the city. As we trekked up dirt roads lined with olive trees and stone farmhouses, I seriously felt like I had been transported back in time. Even the occasional passing car couldn't shake the thought that I was living in a dream. Mom complained about the weather, and hoped it would clear up. I hoped the rain would stay! I have seen paintings of sun bursting through clouds, but I didn't realize that it could REALLY happen with this much drama. No need for extensive photoshopping, the landscape did everything for me.
We explored some churches, and soaked in the city for a while. The architecture complimented the land in the most adorable ways.
I found this dog in front of one of the smaller churches. He wasn't actually tied to anything. The leash rested on a ledge, so every 10 minutes or so he sauntered happily into the church to find his owner. She scolded him, and took him back outside.
My mom noticed this litter on the steps of the church of St. Clare of Assisi. Litter is everywhere, but on the steps of a church?! There were trash cans only a few feet away.
Window shopping in Italy has proven to be a frustratingly mouth watering experience. All the food looks so delicious, but tastes even better than it looks.
Of course, we eventually ended up at the highest point in the city, Rocca Maggiore. Many of the castles in Europe boast a "panoramic view" and don't deliver, so I was skeptical when the man at the ticket window told me to look for the tower with the panoramic view. I wandered about for a while, and eventually saw a small tower that looked promising. I had a heck of a time figuring out how to get to it. I saw a tiny staircase leading to a pathway that seemed to face the right direction. In photos, the pathway looks plenty big enough for an adult, even expansive. Looks can be deceiving...
At the end of the tunnel I met another tiny staircase. When I finally got to the top of the tower I was not disappointed. It was the first castle that actually had a true, 360 degree, unobstructed view of the city. The cold wind and the excitement of it all actually made me cry, no kidding. It took me forever to put together the panoramic. My computer didn't have enough memory to run photoshop long enough to put all the photos together! I had to make them much smaller, less than half their original size. I want to clear my drive and try again when I get back to the states to use the full resolution images. Still, I am happy with how the smaller one turned out.
The time came to catch our train to Florence, so we braved the rain and walked to the station. We looked goofy, but didn't care.