16 September, 2012

Italy: Day 5 - Assisi

This morning, after yoga, we got in the van and raced 40 minutes to Assisi, an amazing city, consisting of multiple layers of history and architecture, ranging back as far as 1000 BC by Etruscans and Umbrians, followed by Romans, followed by everyone else. And, as such, there are elements of those civilizations throughout the city. Walking down the streets (alleys) of this city, other than the cars, it felt like the closest thing I have ever experienced to being in an ancient place. Of course, this sense is exaggerated by my lack of familiarity with the distinctions between different eras of civilization which have been mixed and matched over time here. I can't do justice to explaining it beyond that. Suffice it to say, I was in love, and it may be the most beautiful place I have ever been. Though, I did have the worst cannoli that I have ever had. Are cannolis a thing that you should only buy in Boston or New York?

We had a tour guide for this visit, which adds a lot. I don't often have the opportunity to have a guided tour, and I often pass them up because I tell myself I can just look at everything on my own. But there is something completely different when there is a person to answer questions, and give you the flavor and story that cannot be told by the sites alone (though, I do have some questions about how much of the history of Assisi our guide knows - she told me that Assisi had never been destroyed but, according to Wikipedia, it was almost completely destroyed by "Ostrogoths" in the year 545 AD. I'll call it a minor detail, and move onward). There are several important churches with varied degree of sophistication and ornateness, and containing immensely important historical items, such as, say, the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi. It is kind of a shame that I have no Christian ties. I still have a deep appreciation for the significance of such things, and I am awe struck by the fact that they have been maintained and never stolen or destroyed. But I can only imagine what it must be like to have prayed and read about these figures your whole life, and then be standing in the crypt where they are buried. Breathtaking.

One funny tidbit for me, visiting these particular temples, was that it struck for me a memory that is so vivid, that it induced a pretty strong emotional response, with regard to the architecture and details of the interiors of these basilicas. And that, amusingly enough, was the incredible similarity to the cathedrals that were depicted (in great detail) in the game World of Warcraft. All I can say is that they did their homework. Walking through these buildings, I felt like I had been there before, having fought monks and various undead creatures many times during my stint as a bona fide WoW addict. It probably sounds ridiculous to you, if you've not played the game. But if you have, seriously, I kid you not... fucking cool.

On to less geeky things...

We had to rush back to Locanda del Gallo for lunch, which was fresh mozzarella with tomato slices, couscous, some type of eggplant cake, and arugula salad. The afternoon consisted of steam room, a walk to look at a herd of feral cats, and the evening yoga practice. Then, dinner was porcini lasagna with white sauce, followed by meatballs and spinach, and a birthday cake (for Joanna and Mary) that contained some type of liquor and walnuts.

It started off as a down day, but kicked in to be a great day. Always changing, always flowing, always discovering.

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