Canterbury to Rome to Assisi Day 100:
A day in interesting, tranquil Assisi. Enjoying the eerily quiet holy town after the 2,240K pilgrimage from Canterbury.
After the long journey, I am staying 2 nights in Assisi, and was fortunate to select Hotel Pallota, just a minute walk from the Piazza Commune. The hotel had a spiral staircase going up to a small cozy nook with just enough room for a coffee table with 4 comfortable chairs and a table with a kettle for tea and coffee. Perfect for a tea addict like me. Best of all was the 360 view of Assisi. I savored last night’s sunset and this morning’s sunrise.
Being the only guest in the hotel had its advantages. Jainie from Peru served me a delicious breakfast and provided some interesting conversation about her life in Peru and move to Italy 20 years ago.
About mid-morning I strolled through Piazza Commune taking 10 minutes or so to the Basilica of St. Francis. Today Umbria went Orange so all the Bars and Restaurants are closed and it is so eerily quiet. Yesterday there were at least some outdoor tables at the Bars and a few people sitting around. Today there are no tables, chairs, and just a few local people walking about.
Arriving at the Basilica, I first got my 112th and Final Stamp in the second of the two Credentials that I picked up at The Cathedral of Canterbury 100 days ago in Kent, England. In fact the Stamp filled in my last open box of the two Stamp Books. Perfect.
Walking through the entrance I only saw one other visitor. I could not help recalling my last and first visit here 26 years ago when there were hundreds of people in the Basilica. It is perhaps the most artistic and beautiful “Church” I have ever visited.
Walking down the stairs to the basement and Tomb of San Francesco was surreal as I was the only one there sitting on a bench for 5 minutes across from the Tomb when a Korean Franciscan Monk walked in. I asked him if I could light some candles for friends and family which he assisted with.
He left and I sat alone for another 10 minutes feeling content and connected to Francis. A very powerful moment magnified by the silence and emptiness around.
Then venturing back up the stairs to view the other parts of the magnificent Basilica. The frescos throughout are simply spectacular. So beautiful.
Afterwards, I headed over the The Church of San Giacomo(James) being a Camino Junkie but it happened to be the one and only sight or church in town that was closed. A bit of a disappointment, but nothing to bring me down from my present euphoria.
Meandering aimlessly through the empty streets I ended up back in the spacious mostly empty Piazza del Commune. Though the Bars and Restaurants were all closed I was happy to see the Bookstore was open. I walked in greeting the owner I hoped with “Buongiorno Marco”. His response, “Benventu Kevin” surprised me but told me he was expecting me thanks to my dear Camion buddy, Laura of Turin, Italy who suggested I visit Marco to find a book about Francis.
After a discussion about how difficult the Covid situation is for his and his family’s well being we talked of Francis and he recommended the Book; ‘St. Francis of Assisi‘ by Thomas of Celano. What made this book interesting was that it was written by a fellow monk that actually knew him.
I continued walking past my hotel to The Cathedral of San Rufino. Special not because it was built back in 1145, but because it was where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.
After the Cathedral, I continued on through the virtually empty streets to The Basilica of Saint Clare which of course contains the remains of Clare.
By this time it was mid afternoon when I would of sat down outside a Bar for some wine and pasta but they are totally closed. So I leisurely meandered back to Hotel Pallota, and walked up to the upstairs nook and sat down with a soothing green tea and opened up the book of St. Francis.
By early evening I was famished, and the Manager told me there was a pizzeria down the block that was open so I could get a pizza and come back and eat in the breakfast area. She explained that while Bars and Restaurants were all closed, Pizzerias were allowed to remain open. I heartily laughed thinking that while the Italians accepted the Bars and Restaurants being closed, they had to have an occasional pizza.