Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wonderful Places and People- Part 1

Friday, I hopped out of bed early, rushed to pack quickly, and trudged through the rain to the train station. Only to find.....
there were no trains to Perugia for the day!

So with plans slightly altered, I ended up in Foligno around 9:30pm. Leonardo and Agnese, a couple I met on couchsurfing.org to stay with greeted me warmly. After settling in, we came up with a plan of action for the weekend... head to North Umbria on Saturday and hit the South on Sunday.

Our first stop was Spello, a beautiful medieval town neighboring Foligno.  We mostly wandered the streets and the picturesque alleys that are characteristic of the towns in Umbria, however we also stopped at a few historical sites like Venus' Gates.  The highlight was the gorgeous panoramic view of the countryside.  Unfortunately somewhere between the panoramic view and Venus' Gates I lost my scarf, c'est la vie (such is life), hopefully it has a better life in Italy. (Venus' Gates top left)

Assisi was our next stop of the Northern Umbria tour and it was my favorite part of the trip.  The church within the church at the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli was the first point of interest; the new church is built around the ancient church where Saint Francis used to pray.  If you wanted to, you could follow the path beside the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli which is on the outskirts all the way into Assisi's city center.  Beside the Basilica, Leonardo, Agnese and I ate piadinas (a kind of Italian sandwich) that were bigger than our heads! Within Assisi lies the most beautiful church in Italy (in my opinion), the Basilica di San Francesco.  From the outside, it appears simple but it is gorgeous as it does not interrupt the nature around it but complements it.  The inside is intricate and covered in rich frescoes that are astounding despite the damage they faced from an earthquake several years ago.  Agnese and Leonardo were great tour guides, they knew all kinds of interesting facts!  In Assisi there were more American tourists than Italians I think! (Top Middle- Basilica di San Francesco, Top Right- Cathedral of San Rufino, Right Middle- Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli)
Piazza Novembre IV
Taking the mini-metro, up, down and around, like a very slow rollercoaster, we entered the Chocolate Capital, Perugia.  Although the Piazza Novembre IV was very pretty by night, the coolest part of the city was the Perugia Underground.  It isn't quite as alternative as it sounds but it has a very interesting art scene. While we were there, there was a temporary art exhibit, a comic con, and an exhibit by an international comic school.  As it is the chocolate capital, I also had to purchase some Baci. Although Leonardo and Agnese recommended I give them to Joe rather than friends as after reading a message like "If you gave me all the kisses in the world, they would still be too few.-Sesto Properzio", friends might say "Rachel I didn't know you felt that way".

After being on our feet all day, we relaxed Italian style with a long late night dinner and good company.  To be continued....

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