Traveling through Umbria today, we saw miles and miles of countryside that photos can't do justice to. I wanted to doze but didn't want to miss a single glorious scene out the window.
Our first stop was at a 12th century monastery converted to an Alice in Wonderland type place by an eccentric architect, owned for the last 22 years by a couple of men who reconstructed it, who now live there and give tours of the place. The architect had talent, but the outpouring of his creativity went into a place he never expected the public to see. It was a tribute to vanity and oddly disturbing to me.
Lunch was at an agritourismo place. The Italian government, seeking to save farms from being abandoned and falling into ruin, offered 150,000 euros to people who would move to the countryside, fix up the farms and develop some kind of business that would create jobs and contribute to tourism. This place was an idyllic restaurant. We had our usual multi-course meal: antipasto, first course pasta, second course meat dish, and dessert. This week I've learned to eat only what I really want of each course so I have room for the next. Even then, limiting my intake is a challenge.
We arrived at Assisi around 5. This is the place where St. Francis was born and is buried. Born to a wealthy family, he renounced the material and lived to serve the poor. Now, the entrance to the city is lined with tour buses and souvenir stands. The steep streets invite visitors to drink and dine and buy. I remarked to a fellow traveler that many have benefitted materially from Francis' presence in this place in the 12th century.
Our hotel is on a steep hill, midway up a flight of stairs. In all our travels, we've had only one hotel room smaller than this - in Dublin in 1999. We were also disappointed to learn the town's laundromat is closed until Monday, so we're washing the necessities in the bathroom sink. Add to that inconvenience the fact that I initiated conversations at dinner on both politics and religion with a couple of conservative fellow travelers. I should know better.