We Didn’t Drink All The Vino: 2005 Italia Uncensored!
Chapter Four – Assisi, Perugia and a Short Stop in Trevi
Day Five – Don’t Be Assisi, Where’s Tom, It’s All Uphill From Here, The 47-Minute Perugian Tour, The Elusive Stairs and Well, It Looked Like A Parking Lot To Me
We had another delightful Palazzo Bocci breakfast, and then the four intrepid travelers hopped in our car for the quick 15-minute drive to Assisi. We parked in the upper lot in a covered parking area, and started walking toward the Basilica di San Francesco.
We obviously took the route less traveled, because we passed a number of residences and there were no other tourists in sight.I soon had us on a path that the rest of the group thought might head in the wrong direction.
Stubbornly I pressed on, and fortunately we were on the right path to the Basilica. However, when I turned around, it seemed I was alone (so much for Chivalry 101). The rest of the group had lost me (yeah I know, it could have been the other way around).
I made it to the Basilica and waited for about 20 minutes until I saw the group heading toward me. They had made a slightly wrong turn and wondered why I had strayed so far ahead. As usual, I had no good answer for them.
We toured the Lower and Upper Church and walked down to the crypt that contains the venerated stone coffin of St. Francis. The entire experience is quite remarkable, even for a pseudo-Presbyterian like myself. Not even a little sprinkle of rain could dampen our spirits.
Afterward, we walked through the town. Amazingly, every sight we wanted to see was uphill (or so it seemed to our tired legs).
We saw the church where St. Francis was baptized and the Roman Temple of Minerva.
After a quick bite to eat, we walked into the Santa Chiara, home of the bones of St. Clare (the more famous of the two St. Clares) and the crucifix that supposedly talked to St. Francis. My favorite fun fact about Clare is that she is the patron saint of television, although rumor has it that she disavows any knowledge of Fox News.
On a nearby hill stood a castle-like building as we were about to head out …
… but Mary made the decision to grab a bite to eat, since we were tired of walking uphill.
We had spent about three to four hours meandering the streets, churches and hills of Assisi …
… and when we got to the car, I took out a picture I had brought with me. It was of a set of steps I wanted to see in Perugia. For some bizarre reason, I felt a need to go to these steps. Why, I don’t know.
So we set off for Perugia.
Our car wound up, up, up a curving hill road, and we parked in a nice little square with a statue in the middle.
Other than the aforementioned steps, Perugia was on my radar only because of its unique and rather sordid history. In the bad old days, the ancient Perugians would dress up in deer hides and beaked helmets before summarily stoning each other to death. Now, that’s entertainment!
Three popes were also poisoned to death here, so I figured we should at least make a quick stop. And a quick stop it would have to be. We only had enough change for 48 minutes of parking. Armed with only a picture of some steps, and not knowing if we were anywhere near those steps, we started on our quest (well, it was actually my quest, but since I was driving it also became a group quest). We started asking complete strangers, “Dove?” and pointed to the picture. My first few inquiries were met with bewilderment (a look that I recognize from my wife). Time was winding down.
We started asking complete strangers, “Dove?” and pointed to the picture. My first few inquiries were met with bewilderment (a look that I recognize from my wife). Time was winding down.
Finally at the Fontana Maggiore in the Piazza IV Novembre, I saw a tour group. I asked the very pretty tour leader about the steps, and she told me it was a five-minute walk to see them. We incredibly found the steps …
… took some pictures, and I relaxed having completed the quest.
My relaxation period lasted about three seconds. Tracy then said, “I guess our next quest should be to get back to the car because we don’t have much time left before we get a parking ticket.”
I had completely forgotten that we only had a few minutes left, and no one really remembered what time we had parked. Sure enough, when we got back to the car, there was one minute left before we would receive a ticket, and there was a policeman waiting very near our car to do just that.
As we drove toward Spello, we started thinking about the town we had thought was Foligno the day before. We figured out it was Trevi, so we decided to drive over and take a quick look before we got back to the Palazzo Bocci.
Trevi looked like a cute town, and I thought I saw what appeared to be a parking lot. “Wow, this great. There are spaces galore.” Or so I thought. As I drove into the “lot,” Tracy exclaimed, “Tom, you idiot (one of many endearing expressions I have heard quite often during the past 15 years), you are driving on the town square.” Sure enough, as a few local Trevians looked on in awe (on second thought it might have been in “terror”), I drove in a bizarre, circuitous route around their traffic-free pedestrian square, a spot where only seconds before where they were spending a very pleasant and peaceful Monday afternoon.
I immediately surmised it was time for us to head back to Spello for the requisite wine break before dinner. We once again toured the town (Spello is not very large if you haven’t surmised by now).
We stopped by the Spello Pinacoteca where if anyone took photos you would be immediately shot (actually photography was merely “severely” frowned upon … so we did not.)
Then it was back to the Palazzo Bocci for one more round of pre-dinner wine.
A beautiful sky in a beautiful setting made it hard for us to say good-bye.
We had dinner at Il Pinturicchio in Spello. It was another good meal. We all went to bed knowing that tomorrow we would be traveling to our new hometown, San Quirico d’Orcia in Southern Tuscany, via a stop in Gubbio.
In Gubbio, we would take a ride on the infamous and terrifying “Bucket of Bolts.”
Unbeknownst to any of us at the time, we would also be forced to bid farewell to our means of transportation that we had used the past few days.
Next: Day Six – The Bucket Of Bolts, The Gubbio Lunatic, Death Of A Rental Car & The Tow Truck Joy Ride