Tuesday, Oct 4, 2016 – Assisi
Today we decided to hop in the car and head off to Assisi via Perugia. There was a bit of road navigating as a couple of the exits to the secondary highway were closed for maintenance, but it was basically just an amazing tour of beautiful vineyards, houses, and fields. In fact, as we were going down one hill, we saw this group of people harvesting grapes into buckets by hand. Mom demanded a stop so we could get a picture. I thought they would be annoyed, but they weren’t at all – some of the younger guys were posing and having fun with us as we took a few pictures. It was great.
As we approached Perugia, we decided we shouldn’t stop, but rather continue straight on to Assisi as it tends to be a bit of a tourist destination and can get really busy.
Thank goodness we did. We arrived around 10am and it was jam packed. In fact, we arrived on pretty much the busiest day of the entire year – it is a day to celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi. So, yep, it was crazy busy. We did manage to find parking underground right at the base of town, which was awesome. It is another hill town. It seems like most of the old towns around here started up on the hill. The newer parts of town have flowed down into the flatter areas and outside of the old city walls now. But the really interesting parts are all up hill! Good thing my knee is doing better, is all I can say. I wouldn’t want to be doing all this on crutches!
We waked up through the gates and were immediately hit by the amazing buildings joining together with residences on top of little shops and restaurants. One of the first little bakeries we saw, we stopped in so we could get a little breakfast. Mom and I shared a special bun that Saint Francis loved. It is basically the local speciality. It was great. Kind of like a hot crossed bun without the cross, really. As dad finished his huge coffee, walked up the street a bit and sampled a bit of local cheese and sausage in a wine store. Gotta love the free samples.
Together, we climbed up the hill to the first church and plaza. There were media trucks, armed guards, and swarms of people everywhere. There was going to be some kind of speech to honour the special day. After a quick visit into the church (where there was a service happening) we decided to get out of the craziness and head up the hill. Along the way, we stopped into a few jewelry and scarf stores. There is really good shopping here – much to Dad’s dismay, I’m sure. I ended up buying this beautiful pendant. Mom kind of had to convince me, but it really is beautiful.
We walked up, past another set of gates and the streets gradually narrowed and narrowed as we approached another church and piazza. Lots of winding walkways and uneven cobblestone streets. We headed up some narrow stairs to reach the old castle. It was the Castle Maggiore and had wonderful views of the entire place….but would be 9 Euros each to enter and tour around, so Dad decided not to bother. They did have washrooms at the top (for free), which was an extra bonus.
Heading back down, we visited a few more shops and stopped in to get some gelato and sit in the sun on the steps of one of the churches. Because this is a bit of a pilgrimage town, there are men and women in their robes everywhere. I am slightly obsessed with nuns, and I think I should have reached my fill of sightings after today!
We spent the entire day in this town and now did not have any time or energy to visit Perugia on the way home. We decided just to head back so that we could have a nice happy hour before going out to dinner in Montepulciano. I also had some clothes on hold in one of the stores in town that I needed to buy before dinner!
Heading into the restaurant just before 7:30pm, we were so lucky. We got a spot without a reservation. We didn’t realize it would be so popular! They were turning people away at the door all evening. Good thing to note that we need reservations for other nights we plan to eat out! The food was amazing. Wine was cheap. Water was
Making the local Pici pasta!
not cheap. I had amazing ravioli and mom and dad both had different versions of the local, handmade pasta called Pici (pronounced peachy). It was a great meal.
Mom and dad both have bad colds. I really hope I make it through this week unscathed. Off to bed now in attempt to make that happen!