Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I spent a few hours yesterday walking around Porto Maurizio.  It's an easy place to like, especially the marina and the beach.  I walked so much that one of my shoes broke some stitches.

I started at the beach and here's proof.  I don't usually take these kinds of shots.  The first time I tried there was a big thumb covering half my face.  But I see lots of people doing it so I thought, why not?  It's better than taking pictures of strangers.

It's a pretty nice beach, but there weren't many people there.  I saw maybe 6 people in bathing suits, all young, except one and only a few others walking.

There are several areas like this where chairs and beach umbrellas are set up very close together.  It must be crazy when they're all filled.

There's a really nice pier that ends at this lighthouse.  You can see the benches every few feet.  So you can stop and just soak up the rays any time you want.  There were people on the rocks at the end doing some fishing.  I didn't see them catch anything, though.

I took this picture of the town from the end of the pier. I was using my cell phone, and it was pretty much point and shoot because of the glare.  I was pretty happy with this shot.

There are lots of big boats in this marina.  There were crews on several doing spring cleaning-- preparing, I suppose, for the arrival of the owners.

These boats are about three times as big as the ones above, but it's hard to tell from a distance.  There are lots of palm trees lining the pier giving the marina a tropical feel.

I wandered about the town, too, but didn't take many pictures.  I thought these climbing flowers were pretty spectacular, though. I walk by them every time I go to the upper level of the town.  Porto Maurizio is pretty easy to navigate.  I haven't been lost yet.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Yesterday, I left Perugia at 11:30 a.m. and arrived in Porto Maurizio, Imperia at about 9:30 p.m.   It was a long train ride, and I traveled on three different kinds of trains.  From Perugia to Florence, I was on the kind of train I rode all over Tuscany and Umbria to visit the hill towns.  I started a conversation with an Italian man on the platform in Liguria, because I needed some help with my luggage.  This kind man, Biagio, sat with me for the two hour trip and then helped me with baggage again in Milan.  I didn't understand a lot of what he said, but we tried to have a conversation.  He just talked too fast, even though I kept asking "parla lentamente, per favore"--speak slowly, please.  Biagio works with crews that both construct and demolish apartment buildings and leaves his family in Perugia every week to work in another city.

From Florence to Milan, I rode the "fast train" and it was pretty luxurious by comparison.  There were car and seat assignments--something new.  The seats were much more comfortable, and there was a table between the facing seats to place drinks, books, magazines, computers, whatever. There was  beverage service just like on an airplane and a car where you could buy food--snacks, sandwiches and salads.  Pretty nice.  I'd like to travel all over Italy on this train. 

Then from Milan to Porto Maurizio, it was a less luxurious train, but different from the norm--this train had compartments on one side that seated 6 people, with an aisle on the other side.  I had a really nice conversation on that train with two native women who complimented me on my Italian.  I was pretty surprised and pretty pleased.

I had a chance to see the countryside north of Florence.  It flattened out into plains fairly soon and was like that until we neared Genoa.  We even passed some rice fields.  I had no idea that Italy grew rice.  I thought I was flashing back to southeast Asia.
From Genoa to Imperia, the railway ran mostly right by the sea and I mean right by the sea--at times the tracks were just a few feet from the edge of the cliff.  We passed every few minutes through a tunnel, and then there would be the sea again.  On the other side of the tracks were the mountains.  It's the best of both worlds.  And it seems that this is Liguria....the population is nestled between the mountains and the sea all along this province known as the Italian Riveria. 

My landlord, Giancarlo, met me at the train station and we walked the 400 meters to the apartment building, and then....yes, steps again....45 of them up to the third floor.  
The apartment is lovely and seems to have everything I need, including an iron, which I haven't had since Sorrento.  I've been a rumpled mess most of my time in Italy.  

So here I am again, lucky stiff that I am, sitting in my little kitchen, typing this and looking out the window at this.  (Please don't hate me.)

I'm right across the street from a new marina that has 1,300 berths, according to my landlord. This place reminds me a lot of my apartment in Sorrento.  There are lots of restaurants in the area and lots of street noise at night.  And a church nearby, with bells that rang every fifteen minutes throughout the night, but then stopped at 8 a.m. this morning.  Now what kind of sense does that make??!!  But there's also a lot of traffic noise because a road runs between this building and the marina.  I stopped at a pharmacy this morning and bought a supply of earplugs.

The old town of Porto Maurizio is up on a hill (of course), and I went this morning to find the escalator that my landlord said would take me effortlessly up.  But guess what?  It's been broken for two weeks.  So up more steps I went to get some groceries--four bags for starters--which then I had to carry up the 45 steps to the apartment.  I'm resigning myself to steps. They are obviously my destiny for at least the next month until I return to gloriously flat southeastern Michigan!  

With all these steps I've had to navigate, I think I should have really skinny thighs by now, but I don't.  In fact, I sat next to a young man on the train yesterday who had thighs half the size of mine. There's something very wrong with that.  It was bad enough to feel like a giant in the southeast Asian lands of toothpick women, but to be twice the size of a man is just humiliating.  If I see another pencil thin man again, I'm going to buy him a huge gelato!  

Saturday, May 25, 2013


When you travel alone, you can spend a lot of time that way unless you exercise some social initiative.  Months before I left for Italy last fall, I had established penpal relationships with four people here.  So far, I’ve met three of them, and next month in Liguria I’ll met the fourth.  When I decided to go to Southeast Asia, I joined a website called, and that’s how I met the two fabulous women in Thailand who traveled a bit with me and who I now call my friends.   And, of course, I made a few more wonderful friends at the language schools I attended.  Generally, when I’m out and about sightseeing on my own, I look for opportunities to initiate conversations with people.  Sometimes we talk for just a few minutes, sometimes it’s for the length of a bus or train ride, and sometimes it’s for a few hours of sightseeing together.

That’s what happened when I met Jack and Janice from Pennsylvania in Spello a couple of days ago.  I heard American voices, and I initiated a conversation with them.   You can easily determine if people want to engage or if they don’t.  You either get a polite, but brief response or a warm welcome to connect.  I was lucky that Jack and Janice were "connectors", because I really enjoyed the couple of hours we spent knocking around Spello together.

Today I went to Cortona by train.  Cortona was made famous by Frances Keyes of Under the Tuscan Sun fame.  As I coursed my way up to the town on the bus, I could immediately see why she fell in love with this town.  

It was after 1 p.m. when I arrived, and I was hungry, so I found a little trattoria in the first piazza I entered after a bit of an uphill trek.  And I remembered this time to take pictures, because the lunch was extraordinary.  It occurred to me that I was going to be leaving truffle country shortly, so I better have some. 

So I ordered this fantastic pasta with shaved fresh truffles….I was in truffle heaven.

As a side I ordered Sformata di Verdure—a vegetable soufflé—and it was creamy and luscious, even though I wasn’t sure what made it green. 

After lunch, I went out to the piazza and decided to investigate this huge building that bordered one side. 
I wasn’t sure whether it was a church or a government building.  Both often have bell towers.  Sitting at the top of the steps was a couple (the pair sitting in the middle), eating a takeout lunch, and they were speaking English, but not the American variety.  I made some comment to them about the nice perch they had selected, and off we went into conversation.  Not long into our chat, they mentioned having met a couple from Philadelphia the prior evening at a restaurant in Assisi, where they were staying.  When they mentioned that the woman they met was quite a shuttlebug, I asked if, by chance, her name was Janice.  What a really amazing coincidence.  They were sitting at a table next to the same Jack and Janice I met and spent time with in Spello two days before, and they had as pleasant an interchange with them as I had enjoyed.  Sometimes this world is really wondrous!

This couple, Colin and Margie, are from South Africa.  They hadn’t yet started their sightseeing, and neither had I.  When they invited me to join them, I, of course, agreed.  (Jack and Janice, if you are reading this, I’m sure your jaws have dropped!)  

Okay, back to sightseeing in Cortona.  Both Margie and I wanted to see Bramasole, the villa where Under the Tuscan Sun was actually shot, not the villa Frances Keyes renovated.   I would say that Margie was more determined than I to find it.  Colin was very supportive—he had also enjoyed the movie.  We set out to find a tourist information office, so we could find out where it was.  We weren't very far along when Margie disappeared into this art gallery where we saw some wonderful bronze sculpture.

One recurring theme was the passing along of knowledge from parents to children...

And another was love, in its various forms.  The artist was in the shop, and we had a wonderful conversation with him about his technique for creating these amazing sculptures.  I would love to own one.

We had to wait a bit for the tourist office to reopen after its long lunch hour (or 3), so we found a café that had free Wifi in the meantime and tried to google an address for Bramasole.  We found lots of confusing directions, but after Colin came back from the Infopoint office, we had a general idea where it was.  So we set off in that general direction, stopping a cathedral along the way. 

Cortona doesn’t have many sights to see, other than churches.  It’s a town of about 23,000 people and I think there are about 20 churches there. But it’s a wonderful town to roam about.  We walked up hills and down hills, but we weren’t successful in finding Bramasole.  Colin decided we would try to find it by car—they had a Garmin, so we put in the name of a church that was nearest to Bramasole and drove toward it.  When we thought we were relatively near this church, Colin parked the car and we started out on foot.  An Italian man was parking his car in front of us, and Colin asked him for directions to Bramasole.  He told us it was about a 20 minute walk, but only 5 minutes by car.  Colin offered to pay him to lead us there in his car, and this kind man agreed but wouldn’t accept any money.   And we finally found it! 

This is the villa.  It was perched above a quiet country road east of Cortona, and the views out over the surrounding valley were fantastic.

 This is a very bad picture of the niche in the stone wall where that elderly man in the movie left flowers in memory of his departed wife.  Margie took this picture of me with my cell phone, which was acting up.  If we ever make contact, I’ll replace this one with the one she took with her camera. 

Cortona is a charming city, and, as with all these charming hill cities, the views from any spot are spectacular.

You can see Lake Trasimeno from Cortona…it’s off in the distance in this picture.  It’s a huge lake, almost as large as Lake Como.  I might go there this weekend for a boat ride on the lake if it’s warm enough.

This is a really great picture of Colin and Margie, with one of those 20 churches in the background.

After we found Bramasole, we went to check out this huge church that was nearby.  There was a service in progress, so we didn’t go in.

Colin and Margie gave me a ride to the train station, and I think they were going to stop at Lake Trasimeno on their way back to Assisi.  It was a really delightful afternoon, and I’m so happy that I’m not shy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I haven’t posted in a while because I think I hit a brick wall.  You know how that happens when you’re dieting… reach a plateau where no matter what you do, you just can’t lose another pound.  Well, I just couldn’t see another church or museum or hop on another train or bus to tour yet another charming hillside Umbrian town.  I wasn’t sure I could admit this, because I know many of my friends and family are envious of me right now.  But after googling “travel weariness”, I discovered this is not unusual.  Maybe my saturation point on traveling comes at 8 months and 2 weeks.

The simple cure was just living an ordinary life for a few days.  I shopped for groceries, I did my laundry, I cleaned my apartment…..

 Here it is by the way….my kitchen, living room, dining area….

And the loft where I try to sleep on my lumpy bed.

I got my hair cut, I read, I watched Italian TV programs and tried to figure out what was going on, I went to the Vodaphone store three times to try to get an answer about why my phone and Internet minutes disappear so fast, and I watched it rain 4 days.  This “down week” reminded me of my life at home.  It wasn’t a bad week, but it also wasn’t a week where I discovered much….except for hazelnut yogurt.  I may have been overlooking this luscious creamy concoction in Italian grocery stores for weeks, because I’d never think of looking for it.  Italians do love their noccia.  I mixed my first carton with bananas and strawberries and it was almost, but not quite, as good as eating gelato.

Speaking of gelato, I’m sure I’ve given everyone the impression that I eat it every day, but I don’t.  I have it maybe once a week.  There aren’t quite as many gelaterie in Perugia as there were in Florence, where temptation seemed to confront me every few feet.  I used to get tiramisu most of the time, but now I’m hooked on the combination of bacio, which is chocolate with hazelnuts, and coconut.  It reminds me of Almond Joy, my favorite candy bar.  There must be some Italian blood in me somewhere, because I love the flavor of hazelnut, and I’m very surprised that the Italians haven’t used it to flavor their coffee yet, but then I think they’re purists when it comes to their caffé. 

Anyway, a week of “down time” seems to have done the trick, because today I wanted to go somewhere again, and I did.  I hopped on a train and hopped off at Spello, one stop past Assisi.  

There aren’t an arm’s length list of things to see in Spello.  

There's this first century B.C. entrance to the town.  There are a couple of churches where you can see the work of two notable Italian painters, Pinturiccio and Perugino. But it’s one charming little town to just wander around….or should I say wander up and down.  I walked uphill from the train station to the town center, stopping along the way to take a couple of nature shots.

Some pretty wildflowers with the backdrop of a section of the old wall that surrounds the city.

A curious clock tower with greenery growing from the top.

After an uphill climb of about a half hour, I arrived at the main piazza of this little town of 8,600 people.  I had selected a trattoria recommended by Trip Advisor for lunch, and wouldn’t you know, I had to go back down another side of that hill I just clumb to find it.  When I got to the street number where it was supposed to be, I couldn’t find it.  I inquired at a nearby jewelry store, only to discover it was closed today.  So back up the hill I trekked to find another place to eat, which turned out to be not so great.

But the town was definitely not a disappointment.  I passed dozens of streets where there were beautiful flowers on display.

Climbing roses

Pots of flowers

Flowers adorning walls.....all very charming. 

There is a flower festival here at the beginning of June and groups of people work together to create masterpieces from flowers. 

Here’s an example.  I’m really sorry I won’t be in Umbria on June 1 to enjoy this festival.

After lunch, I bought my weekly gelato and started walking uphill just to see what was there.  I heard American voices behind me and asked the couple passing by if they knew what was at the top of the hill. They didn’t either, but we continued the journey upward together and spent the next hour or so chatting about our travels in Italy. 

Jack and Janice are from Chester County in Pennsylvania, married 40 years, and spending a month here in Italy.  They’re touring by car and have been an amazing number of places.  Jack has Italian blood coursing through his veins and part of their journey is to discover his roots.

After checking out Pinturiccio and Perugino in a couple of the churches, Jack stopped at a wonderful wine shop, and we were treated to a tasting of some incredibly wonderful wine and bruschetta dripping in delectable olive oil.  The wine we tasted went for 85 euro a bottle.  Needless to say, I didn’t buy any, but Jack did, and now I’m the one who’s envious!

The sky was darkening and it looked like a storm was brewing, so Jack and Janice gave me a ride back to the train station, where I caught the next train to Perugia. The raindrops started falling just as I was opening the door to my apartment building.

All in all, it was a lovely day, due in part to meeting more really nice people.  And, I guess my batteries are rechargeable, because I feel re-energized.

Friday, May 17, 2013


This week, I learned that the woman who wrote the book that inspired me to risk this adventure as a nomad, Rita Golden Gelman, has written another book….Female Nomad and Friends:  Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World.  Well, she didn’t write the whole thing.  It is, instead, a collection of stories from women (mostly) sharing some of their adventures (mostly travel).  She called for contributions from her seemingly thousands of friends around the world, and then she and a friend selected and edited the hundreds of entries they received.  I’m about halfway through the book, and there are some funny, touching, sad, scary, and inspiring short (mostly very short) stories here.

What’s more, the proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to a special fund to provide vocational education to high school graduates from the slums of New Delhi, India.  If you follow this link……

……….and read the first pages of the book, you can learn the details of this philanthropic venture.  I would have purchased the book anyway, but I’m doubly happy because I’ve made a small contribution toward a better future for one of these children.

As an added bonus, there are also some recipes in the book from several different countries.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013


The rain finally stopped, so I hopped on a train to spend the afternoon in Spoleto, another delightful Umbrian town about 40 miles SE of Perugia.  A colony was first formed here in 241 B.C.  Imagine that!  It's taken 2,254 years for it to grow to a population of about 39,000.  Spoleto is built on a foothill of the Apennines at an elevation of about 1300 feet.  

This fortress rests at the top of the hill.  The train station, of course, is at 0 feet.  But no mountain goat muscles needed today.  See those things snaking up the hill?

They cover the 8 of these escalators that eventually deliver you almost to the top of the hill where the fortress sits.  There's an elevator that takes you the rest of the way.  I knew that before I got here, because you know there's no way I'd climb 1,300 feet of steps to get anywhere, except maybe into heaven.

There weren't many tourists in town today...there were only 6 or 7 other people wandering around the fortress, which dates back to 1370.  

This is an inside courtyard.  You can see that the 15th century frescoes are a little worse for the wear.

There was an inside room where the walls had been covered with frescoes, but most are so damaged you can't even tell what they might have depicted.  

There were parts of a couple where you could make out the scene.

Another that is much larger than it appears here.

The views from the fortress were stunning.  This is from the room where the above frescoes were.  

I don't know what this is, but it's very photogenic.  I love the red poppies that you see all over Tuscany and Umbria.

By now it's after 1 p.m., and I know all the churches will be closed for "pranzo", so I decided to find the ristorante that rated #1 on Trip Advisor.  And I did find it, but unfortunately, it was closed.  So I went in search of a trattoria that had a very good review.  It took me about 20 minutes to find it, because the town folk didn't recognize the street name.  The last people I asked were a work crew doing some street repair.  I approached 3 men who were standing together and asked if they knew where Via Flitteria was.  "Non lo so" (I don't know) was the response from all three.  I turned around and noticed a restaurant with an outdoor patio just down the hill a bit, and it was the trattoria I was trying to find.  This work crew was standing right below the street sign, which I didn't notice either.

Again, I forgot to take pictures, but I had a delicious lunch of pasta with wild asparagus and prosciutto and a decadent dessert of puff pastry filled with cream and topped with mixed berries.  At least the menu said it was mixed berries.  It looked like just one kind of berry to me.  When I asked the waiter what kind of berry it was, he said there were blueberries and cranberries and some other berry I didn't recognize.  Excuse me, but I know what a blueberry looks like, and there weren't any in that dessert.  So I don't know what the berry was, but it was delish!  And the bread was great--there was one kind with black olives and one with walnuts, a nice change from the usual plain white.

I did some backtracking to see the main cathedral of Spoleto--the Duomo.  There were several art students in the piazza making drawings of it.

It had a beautiful altar, modest by Assisi standards, but still impressive.

Soleto is a town filled with arches.  They're the fortress...

Opening the way to piazzas......

Curving above side streets..I don't think I've seen so many in any other place.

There were other churches I might have seen; and had there been time, I would definitely have taken the 3 kilometer hike to see this fabulous bridge.

But I didn't feel pressured to rush and see everything, because I was truly enjoying the relaxed pace of the afternoon and there was no disappointment that I missed a few sights.  

It's strange sometimes what makes a great impression.  These are the steps I walked down from the second floor of that courtyard in the fortress.  I could feel the wear of the millions of feet that trod down these stairs over the centuries.  You can see how worn and uneven they are.  It's the same shivery feeling I had when I saw the chariot ruts in the stone roads of Pompei.  There's history here beyond what we know in our country, and I feel connected to it when in the presence of what's been so carefully preserved through the ages by a people who deeply respect its traces.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


It's been raining in Perugia for three days, so I haven't made any side trips yet this week.  Tomorrow, I'm going somewhere by bus or train.  Monday and Tuesday, I just caught up on emails, did some research on little towns in Umbria, and watched a lot of movies on Youtube.  I watched BBC's six part Pride and Prejudice series, which is probably about the fourth time I've seen it, but I just can't get enough of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.  There's a scene when Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle are dining at Pemberly, and after dinner, she's turning the pages of the sheet music for Darcy's younger sister, who's playing her new pianoforte.  Colin Firth casts a perfect look of achy longing in Elizabeth's direction, and it's just too, too romantic.  There was so much unsaid in Victorian times.  It's no wonder there were so many misunderstandings.  

Anyway, I love Colin Firth and I'm happy his talent was recognized with an Oscar last year for his amazing performance in The King's Speech.  I watched him again in Bridget Jones, too.  I really wasn't in the mood for visiting museums, even though rainy days are really perfect for that.

After a couple of days of enjoying a sluggish existence, I got off my duff today and went to the Galleria Nazionale dell' Umbria.  The collection there was about 95% Umbrian religious art from the 13th through the 19th century.  

I spent a couple of hours wandering through the 30 plus rooms which are housed in the Palazzo dei Priori, a very impressive Gothic building.  

I wasn't that familiar with the artists represented there--maybe my niece would have recognized some of the names, art history major that she is.  The collection includes masterpieces by the Maestro di San Francesco, Arnolfo di Cambio, Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Gentile da Fabriano, Beato Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Piero della Francesca, Agostino di Duccio, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, a large group of paintings by Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino, in addition to works by Pinturicchio, Orazio Gentileschi, Pietro da Cortona, and Valentin de Boulogne.  (Anyone you recognize, Shelley?)

Anyway, I couldn't take pictures and I'm not feeling inclined to hunt for any on the Internet.  Just wanted to go on record as saying, I think I'm getting weary of religious art.  Too much of anything can be tiresome...except maybe gelato!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I woke up to a beautiful day yesterday and decided to take a train trip.  Assisi is only a 20 minute train ride away, and that seemed to be a good choice.  

So I caught a bus to the train station and got on this train.....

...and sat in one of these seats and before I knew it, I was there.  

I went to the information station where I was helped by a man from the Bay Area in California.  He gave me a history lesson on St. Francis of Assisi, offered some good advice on how to navigate the town in order to avoid as much uphill climbing as possible (and you know how much I appreciated that!), marked up my map with his illegible script, and then charged me a euro for it.  

I caught a bus to the highest portal of entry to the town and proceeded downward to explore.  It was now around 11:30 a.m., two hours from when I set foot outside my apartment.  

My first stop was the Basilica di Santa Chiara, a 13th century church that houses the relics of St. Clare, friend and protege of St. Francis of Assisi.  St.Clare was the daughter of a count in Assisi and followed the example of St. Francis against her parents wishes.  She founded a community of women religious called the Poor Clares.

Because of a vision she had while bed-ridden, she was named patron saint of television by a modern Pope in 1958 and is also the patron saint of sore eyes.  

Her tomb is in this church, as well as a number of her relics.

I wasn't aware of it, but the town was in the midst of preparations for Calendimaggio, a three-day festival celebrating the arrival of spring.  I could see evidence everywhere as I entered the main piazza where performance events were to take place.  

There were bleachers on one side of the piazza, where I sat to take this photo of the building opposite, which was decorated with colorful flags.  It was lunchtime now, and most of the churches were closed for "pranzo" until 2:00 or 2:30 p.m., so I decided to eat in a trattoria in this piazza. 

I don't know why I keep forgetting to take pictures of food, especially unusual dishes like what I had for lunch--grilled cheese topped with bacon. This wasn't a grilled cheese sandwich.  It was a thick slice of local caciotta cheese that was grilled to delicious crustiness and topped with what the menu called "streaky bacon".  Grilled eggplant, zucchini, and yellow pepper were served on the side.  It was molto bueno.
After lunch, I visited Chiesa Nuova, a church built in 1615 on the site of the presumed birthplace of St. Francis, the home of his  father, Pietro di Bernardone.

This is said to be an original door of the home and is on a level below the church.

Another door, more decorative.

And the altar in the church...beautiful.  

Next, I headed for Basilica di San Francesco, the plum of Assisi.  It's at the bottom of the hill that Assisi is built upon.  

On the way downward, I saw more evidence of festival preparations... people in medival dress, like these three lovely girls. 

And lots and lots of flags decorating buildings along the way.  

Then it is before me, the magnificent Basilica di San Francesco.  St. Francis was the son of a prosperous silk merchant and lived the "high life" typical of a wealthy young man.  While going off to war in 1204, he had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life and subsequently lived in poverty.  
He preached in the streets of Assisi and amassed followers, including St. Clare.  His Franciscan order was authorized by the Pope in 1210. He is present everywhere in this town.  
I wonder what he would think of this namesake cathedral. It has an upper and a lower part, and both are pretty grand. In the upper part, there are several frescoes that tell the story his life.
Pictures weren't allowed here, and there were frequent reminders to keep silent.  I can't describe the grandeur of this place.  It's enormous and there's a lot to take in, not just with your eyes, but with your spirit as well.  I can't describe the feeling I had sitting quietly in one of the pews.  Maybe it was awe.

St. Francis' tomb is here.  His stone coffin is enshrined in an open space above the altar in the lower part of the cathedral.  In the early 20th century, his most faithful brothers were entombed in the corners of the wall around this altar.

St. Francis is one of two patron saints of Italy and is also the patron saint of animals and the environment.

My last stop was the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.  Here you see this chiesetta (little church) of Porzuincola within a grand church.  St. Francis was given this small 9th century church by Benedictine monks.

Here it is in the perspective of its enormous house.  Amazing!  Behind it, to the right, is the small hut where St. Francis died in 1226.  He was pronounced a saint two years later.  There are a number of his relics housed here.

I was very impressed that I didn't have to pay one euro to enter any of these grand churches.  I think there was only one I saw in Florence that didn't have an entry fee.  So it was a "pray free" day.
One regret--I didn't go up to the top of the hill to see what that building was.  I learned later that it's a fortress--Rocca Maggiore.  Maybe another day.

All through the day, I encountered panoramic views like this.  It was a really lovely day, and I think you can feel the spirit of St. Francis in the streets of Assisi.

On the bus ride back down to the train station, a "controller" came on board to check that everyone had a valid ticket.  I've experienced this maybe three or four times in Italy.  If you don't have a valid ticket, which cost all of one euro, you're fined 30.99 euro if you pay within 60 days, or 90.64 euro after that.  I wonder who picked those numbers?  One young man was removed from the bus by the controller, and, I'm assuming, was given a fine.  It wasn't a blessed day for him.

I wish I could have seen some of the festival performances scheduled for the evening, but it cost 40 euros for entry, and I wouldn't have been able to see much before the last train back to Perugia to make it worth that.  I was thinking of going back today, but, unfortunately for everyone in Assisi, it hasn't stopped raining since 5 a.m.