Adventures in Hitch Hiking

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November 4th 2010
Published: November 4th 2010
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Day 9 Spoleto-Assisi-Spoleto

We took a morning train to Assisi (about 40 minutes), and then a bus up into the city. I really wanted to see the cave where St. Francis had meditated, which is about 4 kilometers outside of town, in woods that are still much the way they were in Francis’s time. We discovered that no public transportation goes out there, only taxis, of which we saw none.

So….we started walking. It was a gorgeous blue sky day. The trees were brilliant colors and the olives were ready for harvest all along the road. The road however, started to climb, and I started to hitch-hike…we were both well dressed, and I thought someone might stop, even just out of curiosity, since no one hitch-hikes in Italy. And car full of twentysomethings did stop! They made room in their very small car for us, and our day changed for the better. Stefano, Dafne, and Giulia were recently graduated or current university students from Perugia, and Carmen was from Spain. They were very knowledgeable about Assisi and the world in general. We toured the site together, with lots of information from our new companions.

We rode
Starting our walk to the caveStarting our walk to the caveStarting our walk to the cave

I've begun to hitch hike about this time...
back down the mountain with them and took them up on their offer to walk through Assisi together. After a picnic lunch overlooking the valley and a political discussion, we were joined by Giulia’s uncle, who works for the cultural branch of the local government and knows Assisi inside out. For the rest of the afternoon, he took us on a guided tour of the city, during which we added his friend, a local poet, to our group. Our heads are still reeling from all the information! After the uncle left us, we all walked towards the bus stop, visiting one last church. The docent was eager to show us around and unlocked the crypt for us and then took us to the was bit spooky to be locked in with him in these rooms under the church!

We said a fond farewell to the group in the early evening, with promises to get in touch when we go the Perugia this weekend, and returned to the train station. At the station we ran into a couple we had seen a few times in Spoleto, and found out they are Dutch and planning to hike from Spoleto to Rome starting tomorrow!

Sometimes good things turn out to be not so great (our apartment is filled with street noise for too much of the night) and bad things (no bus to St Francis’s cave) bring wonderful surprises….

Tomorrow we take the train to Spello and Trevi, two more hill towns.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Inside the caveInside the cave
Inside the cave

St Francis was small and the doorways are tiny. His bed is up on the left. It is simply a stone level area.
Handmade cross in the woodsHandmade cross in the woods
Handmade cross in the woods

The woods are nearly untouched since the time of St. F. People make crosses of twigs and place them in the woods. Theyare everywhere along the trail.
The sign says it allThe sign says it all
The sign says it all

How commercial can you get? Actually, the "spa" part is acronym for something, not massage by nuns...!
Assisi, medieval townAssisi, medieval town
Assisi, medieval town

It is very well preserved, but filled with nuns and souvenir shops.
Grotesque artGrotesque art
Grotesque art

Giulia told this 12th c fresco was inspired by Roman paintings found in grottoes. The word grotesque comes from grotto.
Another repurposed Ronan templeAnother repurposed Ronan temple
Another repurposed Ronan temple

On the left are two buildings: one has crenellations indicating papal supporters; the other, Holy Roman Empire supporters.
Cathredral where St. F is entombedCathredral where St. F is entombed
Cathredral where St. F is entombed

Guilia's uncle has seen the bones...I'm with Dafne and Carmen.
In the dungeon...I mean museumIn the dungeon...I mean museum
In the dungeon...I mean museum

On the left is a grain grinder (mine is better..) and on the right is ball from a catapult.

4th November 2010

Spoleto Assisi
What fun to meet up with that group of young people who could add so much to your information about the area! So..."grotesque" comes from "grotto". Where does "graffiti" come from? Loved the photos. Carol and Martin P.S. Was your political discussion about American, Italian, or global politics? What a disgusting election we had here yesterday!
5th November 2010

So happy to see your photos of Assisi. Great story of getting to StFrancis's cave and meeting new friends. Did you get any photos of nuns or statues of St Francis? I went to a high school taught by Franciscan nuns who wear the long brown robes that look like what we see St Francis wearing often with birds and/or animals. My favorite prayer is his "Lord Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace."

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