In the eastern region of Umbria lies another one of the most iconic cities in the world. Assisi is a living medieval city, although very few (only 700) inhabit the 1,500-year-old buildings. Turns out plumbing and electricity were very hard to retrofit into the buildings and was very expensive, so in parts of the city they’ve been well-preserved.
Below: An olive tree, streets of Assisi (yes, cars actually drive down these streets, so keep an eye out), and some of the ancient cobblestone. (Thanks to Rick Steves for a couple of these pictures!)
Next we visited a restaurant that we will be visiting in Assisi, which was built inside one of the ancient buildings. GREAT pizza and pasta. One of my favorite meals of the trip.
After lunch we met our personal guide, who was born and raised in Assisi. He took us on a 2.5 hour guided tour of Assisi behind the scenes and showed us many places and features that we never would have been able to see without him. If we go here in December, the tour will be shorter, with free time to explore this amazing city.
Most of the original brick work in Assisi comes from limestone that can only be found in Mount Subasio near Assisi. It’s not like the limestone we have in Kansas; in fact, it can be shaped and polished to be as hard as marble. It also has a characteristic pink color.
On the guided tour we went through the Basilica of St Clare and saw her catacombs and relics of the first female order, as well as the area that St. Francis lived when he was growing up. The last picture in the series show’s the “cage” St. Francis’ father locked him in when he was caught stealing as a child.
In addition to the historical relics, there are also extremely cool artisan shops, gift shops, GELATO, restaurants, and public squares. Something I found is that it’s almost easier to find better shops/restaurants in the smaller towns. There are a lot of places in Rome that are ‘tourist traps’ unless you really now how to look. We’ll talk more on that later. And yes, I bought a dancing Mr. Bean figure in Assisi. Because, why not?
The Basilica of St. Francis
We will again don the wireless headsets as we receive a guided tour of the upper and lower Basilicas of St. Francis. Understandably, pictures are not allowed inside of the church, but you’ll see original frescoes that tell the story of St. Francis, as well as several other “wow-moment” relics that you’ll just have to see to appreciate. Below are pictures of the exterior, as well as the surrounding area.
After the tour we took another scenic 1.5 hour drive back to Rome, with views of the Apennine Mountains, sunflower fields and vineyards. Below is a picture of us with our tour guide for the day, Benita. The travel company is based out of London so all of their people are British. It was very cool to spend time getting to know them.
After we arrived back to the hotel, we had dinner at the restaurant in the lobby. It was great food, and they will be very accommodating with our large group. A few photos are below. I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, but you’ll get the idea by the large appetizer (antipasti) of prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and a crispy hat.
After that, our trip has concluded! Mrs. Toepfer and I stayed a couple of extra days to do a little further “cultural research”. On our travel day home, we got up bright and early at 6:45am, left Rome at 9:15am, flew into Dallas, and then back to KC.
As we move forward I will be adding more items to this blog, and will post daily from Rome when we come back in December.
That’s all for now,