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A star studded trip report!!!!

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coxs creek, kentucky
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A star studded trip report!!!!

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 !

London, Canada
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1. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Oh my goodness! Another wonderful report that makes me feel as if I am walking along beside you, eating cannoli and sharing in the sights, smells and vision of Assisi. I cannot wait to plan my next trip and it will include this city now. Thank you so much wittyone. :)

somewhere out there
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2. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Witty!! Assisi sounds absolutely divine.

I am soooo sad that I won't be able to get there on my trip :(

So much to do so little time!

Will have to save it for another time, which after reading your report won't be able to come soon enough!

coxs creek, kentucky
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3. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Thanks again Tobie!! Oh yes!!!Please include Assisi!! My heart was pulling me there for months before I made the final decision and especially with Italy, I have learned to follow what is in my heart. We have been so very fortunate to find three wonderful cities-three wonderful restaurants, three wonderful hotels. But mostly, we have been extremely fortunate to find the wonderful people that we have met. You will absolutely love Assisi, I know!!! It is more laid back than Rome and Florence--although I have no idea really of what it is like during the high season. We found a little bar for coffee one day where the waiter was as talkative as me!!! He actually spoke good English. We talked and talked and talked. And the restaurant in the lower part of Assisi--those people could not do enough for us. So memorable!!!! Our hotel was like a dream for me. It wasn't what I would call "posh" like a fancy hotel here, but it was very comforting and very Italian. And we only paid 60 euros a night for this astounding place! Miraculous! We have a favorite hotel in Florence-Hotel David- where the similarities are almost uncanny! I am still picturing myself on that gorgeous terrace with all the cypress trees and those gorgeous yellow leaved trees surrounding us. And the people there, although I DO NOT speak badly of Florence or Rome--the people seem somehow even friendlier and more polite. They will mostly even stop at the crosswalks even if you have not tried to enter it yet! Amazing!. It was like being a part of a fairy tale for me. The old town above is just glorious. Every street we took offered a different view of something. The streets are winding and narrow and the buildings are in amazingly great repair. The churches were all beautiful and the styles of the churches varied from what we had previously seen in Rome and Florence. The Temple of Minerva, to me, was just fascinating. The Basilica of San Francesco was more than glorious--and HUGE!!! We went in and down and up and out and in........... And the monks were everywhere which was very interesting to see. There seemed to me to be such a spiritual quality to the town, that I cannot describe it. And oh yes, that cannoli !!! Amazing !! And eating it while in the Piazza facing the Temple--well that was almost surreal. And oh, the chocolate store that we found-again, the candy was so incredible that words cannot describe it-and again, the people there were just a true pleasure. And at our restaurant(is that sounding possessive??) eating those scrambled eggs with truffles and drinking wine with it was just decadent and beyond!!!!!!! Scrambled eggs were never meant to be that good, I'm sure!!!! Well, I do hope that you get to experience this beautiful city for yourself-My husband is ready to move there! Thanks for taking the time to read another one of my sentimental posts!!!

coxs creek, kentucky
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4. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Oh, Anemone--you will HAVE to go back to Italy again and see this wonderful city!!! It is all I said and much, much more. I know what you mean-it just isn't fair that one country can hold so many wonderful places to see. I really, really need to win that lottery!!!!!

Wetumpka, Alabama
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5. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

I do agree with you Wittyone!. Assisi was a favorite of mine as well and it rained 2 of the 3 days we were there! The peace of Francis can truly be felt there. Did the place you stopped for cannoli have beautiful displays of pastry? The one we ate at did and my pictures just barely do it justice. Assisi will always have a special place in my heart.

Assisi, Italy
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6. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Glad you enjoyed the wonders of our town ...but....for future visitors: stay up in the medieval heart of Assisi, not down at S. Maria degli Angeli near the train station! Buses meet every train which comes in - within about 20 mins -. taxis up to town cost 20 E (more if lots of luggage)

Enjoy evening walks in Assisi's medieval backstreets - see the Basilica di San Francesco, Basilica di S. Chiara, (both 13th c) the Minerva Temple in the main square (1st BC) and the Cathedral of San Rufino (12th c) lit up!...and walk the backstreets up to the 14th fortress which towers over the town, la Rocca Maggiore, to see the terracotta rooftops of Assisi, the spires of the churches and the belltowers in the early morning.

Best of all: go into the Basilica di San Francesco at 6:30 am when it opens (the Lower Church opens then - the Upper Church opens at 8:00)

Sigh.

What splendor!

CHE EMOZIONE!

coxs creek, kentucky
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7. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Oh, Assisi Anne, I have to disagree with you a little !! I absolutely LOVED the lower part of Assisi--we stayed on the other side of the Church so we were not directly by the train station. I think I made twice as many friends that way and I think that when we travel it is important to see more than just the more touristy sites---although Assisi didn't feel touristy to me!!! I did go way, way up and we took many wonderful pictures of the rooftops of Assisi and the valley below. We did stay in the upper part after dark. Remember it gets dark early in November !! We made our journey back to Santa maria degli Angeli after dark and it was lovely--we kept turning to see the Basilica lit up at night from all different vantage points----so see I think we saw "more" than what we would have seen had we chosen to stay "uphill". We walked up in the mornings and down in the evenings-----saw how the people lived going up and how the people lived going down. I am sure that some people would only want to stay in Assisi near the Basilica of San Francesco, but some of us like having the experience of both worlds. And if I return, I will do exactly the same again.

perth
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8. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Wittyone, I am waiting for you to organise a small group tour to the places you write so descriptively about. Where do I sign up. As I've said before, your reports keep me as happy as I can be without being there. Grazie

I have mentioned on another forum that My friend's dad passed away Sunday 3rd Dec. A most peaceful passing.

Los Angeles, CA
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9. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Oh Witty! Assisi sounds absolutely incredible and is making me sad and longing for Italy already. I realized I have really missed these boards and reading your reports is such an amazing way to relive the travel experience. You are a wonderful writer and communicator and have a gift for inspiring people - i can see that by all your posts and responses. I can see a career for you that keeps you in Italy for many weeks at a time.....

coxs creek, kentucky
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10. Re: A star studded trip report!!!!

Hi dreamin !!!!!! welcome back !!!! About that career you see for me--could you tell me where to apply for that ???? LOL, if wishes were horses and all that !!! Thank you for your kindness, but it is not really me that is writing all this. It seems like i just can't quit writing, once i get started. It's like my fingers are being led by something or someone else!! and there is so much to say about so many places and people over there, that the story just has no end ! Ohhhh, you should be glad that you don't live near me! Imagine how much talking I would do ! You would need earplugs! Don't stay away so long !! We need all of you on here--sometimes I worry that I will be the only one left here! And Assisi is all that I wrote and much, much more. Just absolutely breathtaking and just soothes your soul. And friendly !!! I still can't believe how polite and friendly everyone was--and clean !! Wow !! well, I need to go tend to my dinner or I will get fired from this job!! And until you let me know where to go to get the other one, i better keep this one!!! Ciao, amica !!!!!