2000 Cycling Season, June 1 - 4


June 1,2000, Thursday - Travel to Assisi

The train trip to Assisi went just as planned. Between the Web site and the master schedule that Dorothy bought, we are finally getting the hang of the Italian rail system. The first hint is to buy a master schedule for a couple of bucks, and forget the main schedule that is posted at the station. Of the 4 trains we took to get from Siena to Assisi, only one of them showed up on the schedules posted at the station. Basically without the book, you are screwed!

Since we were pretty tired from staying out all night at "Cans e Gatto" we stayed at the hotel and relaxed. When dinnertime came, 8:00 here in Italy, we decided to eat at the hotel. What a mistake. Although this hotel is a very nice place to stay, Dorothy got a nasty grisly cut of steak, and the vegetables with my meal were burned so badly I couldn't eat them. Although it's the lazy way out, I think we'll be careful about eating at the hotels until we get back to France.

June 2,2000 Friday - Assisi

Today we took it easy again, and enjoyed the quiet of this hotel. Since we arrived in Rapallo on the 24th the hotels have had a lot of traffic noise in the mornings as the city wakes up. It was nice not to wake up to the wine of a thousand scooters zipping around under your window. After a nice leisurely breakfast, we walked down to the Basilica di San Francesco, the Basilica for St. Francis of Assisi for those of you who aren't up on your Catholic saints. This Basilica was constructed in 1228 just two years after the death of St. Francis, and actually houses St. Francis's tomb. After spending most the morning at the basilica, we headed back to the main plaza to spend a few hours watching all the tourists walk by.

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Assisi is primarily a tourist town for those that are interested in the religious significance of this area. This walled town houses many basilicas and cathedrals for several important saints. There is the Basilica for St. Francis of Assisi, the Basilica for St. Clair, the Cathedral for St. Rufino, a St. Mary's Cathedral, and a St. Peter's Cathedral, and just outside of town are other religiously significant sites like the convent San Dammiano, where St. Francis wrote his "Canticle of the Creatures". Unfortunately many of these sites are closed at this time due to a very large earthquake that hit the area in 1997 many killing many people, leaving thousands homeless, and damaging many significant sites.

June 3,2000 Friday - Assisi

This morning we walked up to the ancient fort that overlooks the walls of the town of Assisi. Assisi is perched on top of a mountain at the entrance of the Spoleto valley, a large horseshoe shaped valley that is lined by mountains that resembles the striking view of the South Park valley in Colorado from Kenosha pass. Again the ravages of the 1997 earthquake were very obvious in the scaffolding that drapes the tower of the castle. However this doesn't stop the local teens from using this area as a hang out, where they come to play soccer, and enjoy the warm spring days.

Assisi Castle and Restoration From Earthquake Dammage

Assisi Castle and Restoration From Earthquake Damage

View of Spoleto Valley From Assisi

View of Spoleto Valley From Assisi

We also walked down to the convent of San Dammiano, where St. Francis spent time reflecting and writing, and St. Clair spent most of her life. This pastoral little convent illustrates the simplicity of life these two saints, who were born into the regions upper class, adopted with their vows of poverty.

Art Work at San Dammiano

Art Work at San Dammiano

After visiting the convent we walked to a few of the other Cathedrals, however all of them were also draped in scaffolding and braced with 6x12 timbers as part of their restoration from the earthquake. This evening we went and watched a free concert at the St. Francis Basilica. It was really nice to sit a giant old church and listen to music from the 1600's.

Cathedral of St. Clair

Cathedral of St. Clair Veiled in Scaffolding

All in all Assisi has turned out to be very relaxing place to visit after the hectic pace of the bigger cities in this region. Party because many of the sites are still closed due to damage from the earthquake. It was nice to have time to spend time reading about the region, about St. Francis, and about the sites we will try to see in our upcoming visit to Rome. We also enjoyed having time to listening to the music I brought with us on the laptop in MP3 format. Although we really wish we had our Bicycle with us for this little stay!