Well, as many of you know from reading the Rome and Florence posts, I tend to be a little "dramatic" when writing about places that I love. Well, this beautiful, wonderful, inspiring town of Assisi has definitely fallen into the category of my most loved places in Italy ! We started our whole trip by spending five glorious days in Rome, took the Eurostar to Florence and spent five glorious days there. By the time we left Florence we had been to more than 20 churches, the Uffizi, the Duomo Museum, the Accademia, the Vatican museum, the Galleria Borghese, the Duomo Museum in Siena, had been on the scavi tour under St. Peters and much more. It had been an exciting and inspiring trip. Wonderful weather, wonderful people, wonderful food, wonderful art and on and on. So, on the ealate morning of the 15th of November, we packed our bags once more(again very reluctantly!) and headed for the train station in Florence. We took the regional train, first class,to Assisi. The train ride was very interesting with much scenery to view from the window. We made about 13 stops along the way, but we had purchased direct tickets so that we would not have to change trains. We were able to see many of the towns that I wished I could have visited-Cortona, Lake Trasimeno, Perugia etc.,. The views were heavenly and the lake was gorgeous--and BIG ! I had no idea how large it was! Arrived at the train station in Assisi with good directions to get to the hotel. We were staying at the Villa Park Raphael in Santa Maria degli Angeli. We walked with suitcases in tow along beautiful wide pedestrian friendly sidewalks all the way to the hotel, which was about a 15 minute walk. Very easy to find. We arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the most cordial people! Francesco, the owner showed us around the hotel and to our room. It is really gorgeous. It reminded me so much of our wonderful villa turned hotel in Florence!! The soothing washed pastel color scheme throughout, the beautiful pale pink breakfast room with plenty of tables and beautiful linens--everything was very thoughtfully planned in this hotel. We were shown to our room-each room had a name, ours was the Donatello room which just made my day !!!! The room was really huge, with a huge wardrobe, a big comfortable bed, end tables desk and a flat screen t.v. There were Donatello pictures painted on the ceiling !! Lovely !! The bathroom was all done in tiles of gray and white--very nice. The room anf bathroom were absolutely spotless ! The linens on the bed, as in our hotel in Florence were made of a nice quality and looked as though they had been ironed. The best part was still to come ! We opened the side window which had beautiful wooden shutters and OH ME OH MY !!! What views!!!! We could see the dome of the Santa Maria degli Angeli church and also of Mount Subiaso in the near distance ! Another set of doors with arched wooden shutters led us out on a beautiful bricked HUGE terrace. We were overlooking park like grounds with gorgeous cypress trees. On the side of the terrace were a line of gorgeous trees---They were all as yellow as the sun with rather big heartshaped leaves-I think they were quaking aspens but I don't know. The kind where each leaf will fall intermittently with no breeze and it just floats to the ground. Beautiful. O.K., now we leave the hotel to go exploring. we decided that as the time was getting late, we would just spend the rest of the day exploring this "new"part of Assisi and the church here. Well, the church was gorgeous, truly gorgeous. The town was very clean and very friendly and felt quite safe. We found a little bar to get coffee at -the Caffe of the Priori-I think that was the name. We ordered little pastries that were delicious as was the coffee. Astonishingly wonderful cappucino !!!!! We walked around for a while looking in various little shops--found the famous pasta shop tried a Perugian baci--UmmmmmUmmmmUmmmm!!! Heaven!! Walked back to the hotel to inquire about dinner possibilities. The owner sent us to a restaurant behind the church, La Basilica. OH BOY ARE WE EVER TWO LUCKY PEOPLE!!!!! This place was one of the best ! The owner-another Francesco- was so very kind and talkative! I ordered scrambled eggs with truffles and bruschetta,penne with Norcia sausage and truffles. Hubby had a plate of pecorino with salami and prosciutto and bruschetta, pizza with prosciutto and mozarella and tomato. We had a bottle of wine and water all for only 38 euros. What a steal ! The owner even brought out both the black and white truffles for us to smell and explained the difference. So nice!!! The entire staff was at our disposal all through the evening. Walked back to hotel,stuffed and content after strolling through the piazza and sitting near the fountain for a while. Slept like a baby!!!
Thursday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I was amazed at the quantity of food they had and they also had a bar set up for making coffee. WONDERFUL cappucino again !! They wait on you hand and foot there!!! Reluctantly left the breakfast room and started the walk to the old part of Assisi. The owner said it would take about 45 minutes to walk and I think that would be accurate. Of course every few steps was a place for taking pictures! Orange trees and gorgeous old houses and the entire sidewalk lined with roses and views up into Assisi !! There is a nice restroom at the top of the hill before you enter the gates which was a wonderful idea!! Very welcoming of them ! First stop of the day of course was St. Francis and let me tell you this--they have one gorgeous church there!!! There can be none any more beautiful than this one. Some may be AS beautiful but not MORE beautiful ! That day we explored the entire church, went to the Basilica of St. Clare, the Temple of Minerva(oh my),St.Peter and Santa Maria Maggiore. We bought a few gifts-had calzone for lunch, later had coffee and bought more gifts. Walked and walked and snapped the pictures, one after the other! Love this city.Went back to the hotel and then over to La Basilica again for dinner. This time we had antipasti Umbro, tris di Crostini with mozarella and funghi and tomato and ham, Hubby had filletto alla griglia with roasted potatoes and I had a pizza with tomatoes, musgrooms,prosciutto and also roasted potatoes as a contorno. Topped it off with a bottle of Sangiovese. OUTSTANDING MEAL !! We waddled out of the restaurant with many pleasant memories and having made new acquaintances. Walked to the piazza and the church again and sat for a while. Walked back to the hotel.
Friday morning, we had our last delicious breakfast at the hotel, checked out, left our bags to pick up later and walked back to the old town again. This time we were able to go into San Rufino(which is very near the TOP) and also went into the underground excavation site. Very, very interesting. Walked for a while just seeing all the views---found some men harvesting in the olive trees opposite the city wall and were fortunate enough to get them on tape. Stopped at a bakery near the Temple of Minerva and bought some delicious cannoli-walked back to the piazza in front of the church and ate them, feeding the pidgeons too. Nothing like sitting on a bench eating cannoli and staring at something as unique as the Temple of Minerva. We found the olio store near St.Francis where the man ships the oils to your home. Tasted both the wonderful oil and the exquisite caramel free balsamic !!! Oh EGADS were they a treat ! So, we ordered three bottles of oil and one large bottle of balsamic---should be here any time !!! Walked around a little more and headed back to the hotel. Picked up our bags, thanked the owner profusely and headed for the train station. We took the Eurostar back to Rome at 6:oo and cried over leaving Assisi. Many new memories were made in this beautiful, clean, spiritual little town. The tourists were hardly noticable. The food was perfect. The churches are all magnificent. The buildings are gorgeous works of art. The people once again did not let us down. I think that they were probably even more polite and friendly than Rome or Florence. Just amazing. I highly recommend this hotel-if you don't feel that you can walk the trip up, you can take a bus. Good-bye Assisi---thank you for sharing your city with us and most of all-thanks for the hospitality that all of you showed us. We love you, Assisi !