Italia: Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowship


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tutte le strade portano a Roma...and we went via Assisi.

January 21st:
Onward to Roma for three nights. After breakfast we departed from Florence and drove through the beautiful regions of Tuscany and Umbria. We stopped at Assisi for a guided tour with Ruggiero who gave an informative but concise summary of the main happenings of Assisi's history. It was one of the guided tours I enjoyed best. Anyway this tranquil medieval town perched halfway up Monte Subasio is heir to the legacy of St Francis(1181-1226). The bus driver drove to the top car park and then we took two escalators to reach the main starting point of the tour.
San Francesco was born here in 1182 and his spirit hovers over every aspect of the city's life. In his late teens he decided there was more to the world than material possessions and chose to pursue a life of chastity and poverty. He founded an order known as the Franciscans and this group attracted a huge following after his death. It was the usual story of one having to die before receiving the recognition they deserve, not that he really wanted any of this attention I am sure. Santa Chiara, a disciple of his, was not to be outdone and founded the Franciscans' female order. We also got to see Basilica di Santa Chiara her burial place. We looked around Piazza del Comune and later entered the Basilica di San Francesco which was very serene. This basilica dominates the city and receives huge numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. One would never know that the town had suffered serious damage when it was hit by an earthqake in September 1997. Side chapels had been created in the lower church to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims in the thirteenth century. In a small chapel we feasted our eyes on various momentos of San Francesco's life including his very modest dress and also a few presents including a horn that he received from a great Muslim king during his travels.
Whilst we were in this general vicinity some people were setting up for some kind of charity concert and there was a large film crew... from Thailand I think, not sure. I enjoyed looking at the frescoes on the Life of St Francis. We then had thirty minutes to do a quick bit of shopping and looking around by ourselves. At one-thirty we had lunch at Caratteristico Ristorante in Via E.Brizi.

It was then back on the bus travelling for Rome. We arrived in Rome at hotel Torra Rossa and then had dinner at Al Moro. After this met up with Stefano, our new guide for the next few days, to do a night tour of the great city from the comfort of the coach and a little on foot. After a number of red wines and an oversight to using certain facilities in the restaurant Cecilia found herself in a predicament all of her own. However, due to lucky circumstances and a very resourceful bus driver she was able to park her seat on the white enamel of the very posh Baglioni Hotel. The majestic buildings of Rome at night are certainly worth the look. We gazed upon many beautiful sights in the ancient centre including: the Colosseum, the Fountain of Trevi, Santa Maria Maggiore, the Victor Emmanuel Monument(more commonly known as the birthday cake), and the Vatican walls, looking at sites which ranged from the renaissance to the baroque. In the third photo you can see Goretti strutting her stuff in front of Rome's largest fountain, the Trevi. Goretti kept me in high spirits the whole trip. I never ceased to be amazed by her humour or by the driving skills of the bus drivers. They can expertly manoeuver their large tour buses through the narrowest of streets. We were all back at the hotel by midnight.

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