At last, I'm in Assisi, and it's pouring rain! But so what -- it's Italy!!!!
My flight to get here was a bit of a grind--Montreal to Zurich, Zurich to Florence. I landed in Florence about 9 a.m. on Sunday and had 3 hours to wait until the next train to Assisi. (Sunday schedules!) So I left my ample luggage with the train station's baggage claim area and spent a couple of hours drinking coffee and prowling central Florence.
I most wanted to see Santa Maria Novella in Florence, but of course, the church was closed to visitors for Sunday morning Mass. Ah well, the sun was shining and outdoors, I was getting lots of sun right after landing which was great for fighting off jet-lag and resetting my body to Italian time. (My heart, of course, constantly beats on Italian time.)
The train left on time, and ruthless train conductors frequently swept my first-class car for second-class-ticket-carrying interlopers, so I had a very quiet, dull ride. (TrenItalia staff seem quite ruthless about ferreting out people who stumble into the wrong car. This is a sensitive point for me, because I was caught in such a sweep last year, innocently seeking an air-conditioned car, but with only a second-class ticket. This year, I paid the couple of extra euro for the upgrade!)
Once in Assisi, after changing hotel rooms a couple of times to find one I liked, I quickly stowed my things and headed out for a much-needed gelato. Chocolate, inexpensive and taken strictly for medicinal purposes, again to get my body on Italian time. Sunshine also helped, although threatening clouds were building in the north.
I walked up to the Duomo, which I missed last year due to the Pope's interference (an old story) but I was once again blocked from entry. This time, a mournful process of about 100 priests, nuns and other faithful solemnly marched in just as I was taking photos of the Duomo's grand entryway. I trailed in after them, but then decided that if I was going to attend Sunday Mass, I would do it in style.
So, I scooted down to San Francesco and caught the 5 p.m. mass in the beautiful lower church of the Basilica. As I left, the heavens opened up (was I supposed to stay? should I never have left the Duomo? Whatever the message, I didn't get it.)
However, I had gotten pretty hungry by this point. I changed into dry things, cooled my heels until 7;30 and had a fabulous meal at the Piazzette delle Erbe, a Slow Food restaurant in Assisi. My main course was described as pecorino and pear stuffed past which was then caramelized. It was so delicious, but I puzzled for a time over why it was described as caramelized when it was very simply presented, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. But not caramelized. Later, I realized that described its shape -- like a beautifully wrapped candy! Less like a North America caramel, perhaps, and more like a Halloween toffee. But I got the point.
An early night, and I was up at a decent time for a fantastic Monday at Letizia's cooking class! And that deserves a blog post of its own.