A reluctant brother-in-law Ben conceded to a majority ruling of visiting Assisi, the Umbrian town made famous by it’s patron saint, St Francis of Assisi. Ben was reluctant because Assist is a 1.5 hour drive from our Umbrian palace Lagoscello and he is the father of our two youngest travellers Miss 5, Indi, and Master 3, Sam.
Nonetheless, we packed ourselves into our two C-class Mercedes, programmed the GPS, and set off for an exciting day out discovering a new city.
It was supposed to be a 1.5 hour drive and it probably was if you went directly there. However, as I have described in recent posts, we have inadvertently turned into the Griswalds and kept missing roads, having to do u-turns. Sigh.
On our way though, we did zoom past the place that sells firewood, Baldini – a place we have been looking for since we arrived so we could use the old fashioned wood-fired pizza oven at our Umbrian palace. But alas, traffic was heavy, Zorba was driving too fast and it was just impossible to stop. Everyone chimed let’s stop there on the way home. I was skeptical – we haven’t had the best track record of finding places (despite a GPS and directions)…
On we travel, onto Assisi. It took us under two hours, not bad going for Bortoletto / Kings / Griswalds really. All six adults took photos and made mental notes of where we parked the car, not wanting to repeat the fiasco of Orvieto. Once again, today was shaping up to be another hot one and it was already starting to heat up even though we were in Assisi by 10.30am.
Assisi seemed lovely, albeit pretty busy. Tourists everywhere! Cars were edging their way up crowded streets, forcing us to duck into shop doors, between parked cars and the like. It was distracting and I have to admit, especially with two young ones with us. I much preferred walking around Orvieto and Bolsena with their calm pedestrianised streets.
We decided to walk directly to the main attraction, the cathedral of St Francis of Assisi, a world heritage site, while the children were coping ok. We were nearly there when the kids were starting to fade. A closed restaurant had its tables and chairs out the front and Ben opted to stay with the kids whilst they had a snack from their lunch box while the rest of us went into the Cathedral to check it out.
St Francis of Assisi was completed in 1253, and a really beautiful cathedral inside. From the outside it was a large impressive structure, but doesn’t have nearly as much of the ornate decorations that the Duomo in Orvieto has. We went down stairs to see the tomb of St Francesco. The whole cathedral was impressive and three levels. I don’t think I’ve ever been into a multi-level church before, besides crypts below the main church.
There were loads of monks and nuns in Assisi – no surprise really, after all, it attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
Conscious of Ben with the kids up the hill, we ventured back. We decided to find a place to sit and have lunch. Susie chose the first place we came across that had tables outside. An ordinary looking bar that had a gelati and very sad looking panini in the window. No way was I going to eat any of those. Susie had one and said it was disgusting. I wasn’t surprised!
Gelati were bought for the kids, and that’s right about when Sam cracked it. His major hissy fit over I don’t know what, made Susie invent a naughty corner in the cafe and Sam was sent promptly there.
Zorba was already checking out other places to buy some lunch, so I tip toed out of the Sam war zone to see what he had found. Right across the road was an organic cafe that only sold gluten free piadini – a flat bread. They looked nice enough and the man behind the counter was happy to deviate from his menu to make us our favourite combination; proscuito crudo, fresh mozzarella, and tomato. They were delicious! Mum and Dad followed us in and had a different yet just as yummy combo. Zorba said it was the best piadini he has ever had.
By that stage, Sam’s hissy fit has dropped a couple of notches and Susie and Ben decided to start the trek home and said their good-byes. But, they didn’t go straight to the car. Instead, they stopped at a shoe shop. When I followed them in, Indi was already trying on a pretty pair of pink sandals. In her own words, ”These sandals are excellent and very comfy!” Susie bought Indi’s first pair of Birkenstocks.
After that, they went straight to the car. Mum, Dad, Zorba and I wandered around a little more, had a gelato, and found the car on our second attempt (hurrah!) and went back to our villa. Of course, we had to stop at the supermarket and butcher to buy some supplies for dinner. It was 4.20pm and nothing was open. I bet they opened at 5pm, so we didn’t have to try hard to convince Walter to have a beer and wait til they opened.
We had the afternoon to relax by the pool, cool off from the heat. Our dinner of local delicious salami sausages – yes, they were a mix of salami and sausages and absolutely beautiful, especially cooked on the coal BBQ. We again had veal scallopine steaks cooked some sage from the herb garden, some buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil, a delicious garden salad and yummy crusty bread. Man, it was a meal for champions!
Another great day, thank you Umbria.