It was absolutely freezing in the caravan last night! This is the first time we have met anything like winter temperatures on our adventure to be fair, but it doesn’t stop us from disliking it.

When I pushed open the door of the Magic Caravan this morning it had deposited us on the side of a wooded hill above the village of Assisi in the central region of Umbria. A wide plain stretched away to the south and west, a carpet of small towns and hamlets dotted on a flat canvas. Behind us, the slopes of Monte Subasio offered a palette of yellows and greens resplendent in the bright sunshine. The cold stung my face as I walked over to the facilities but there was welcoming warmth in the patches of direct sunlight slicing through the conifers.

We breakfasted slowly, chatting about last night’s wonderful dinner in the “La Stalla” restaurant not 100 metres from the caravan. Cereal was poured, eggs were boiled and hot tea was plentiful as we enjoyed our first morning here. With hunger gone, I launched into a further attempt at fixing on Astra 28 to get BBC back into our lives and, although I got the green light flashing more than once, I gave up as my hands were too cold to manipulate the dish. Mary meanwhile gave Scott a call to confirm we had booked our flights to Melbourne and he was truly delighted with the news.

Having decided to leave the Audi at peace as Assisi isn’t designed for motor vehicles in any case, we set off along a rough path which led from the campsite to the edge of the village. The path was lined on both sides with olive groves and some of the trees still bore one or two remnants of their black fruit. It was downhill all the way to an arch which heralded the top of Assisi which we could see before us clinging to the slopes beneath our feet. We noticed at once that all the stone in the village had had a recent facelift and it all looked splendid in the dazzling sunshine.

Not a bad list of twin towns!

Not a bad list of twin towns!

We knew that the Basilica of San Francesco was at the diametrically opposite side of the village but we had prepared ourselves for a bit of a walk today so we dived into the narrow streets and lanes, following the signs and proceeding ever downwards. The place was absolutely beautiful and we felt as if we were at last in a truly genuine old Italian hilltop village seemingly untouched by modern ways and commercialism. Our first stop was Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a lovely church built on top of a former temple of Minerva, just like we had seen in Rome. Interesting how Christian places of worship were often built directly on top of the pagan temples they replaced.

Assisi

Assisi

The view back up the hill from the Basilica

The view back up the hill from the Basilica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Down, down we continued as far as the western edge of the hill upon which the village stands. There, sharply down to the left and set on the most southerly point of the raised ground, was the basilica we had come to visit. The next 2 hours were spent inside admiring the architecture and decoration as well as sitting contemplating in the upper and lower basilicas and especially in front of the tomb of Saint Francis.

Basilica of San Francesco

Basilica of San Francesco

We emerged into a sun determined to light the valley for as long as possible, allowing us to dilly-dally at the souvenir shops, grab a bite to eat and begin the trek back up the hill. On the journey up we took in 2 other churches including the cathedral of San Ruffino whose baptismal font had not only been graced by St. Francis but also by St. Chiara, the founder of the Poor Clares. But that was it, we were all churched out, so we decide to leave the rest for another day.

By the time we reached the campsite the sun had just set and our legs were like jelly after an unrelenting climb back up the hill. Thankfully we are both quite fit or we might be struggling here. We had tea and passed a quiet evening doing our own thing. And yes, I did have another shot at aiming the dish and no, I did not have any success with that particular venture.

We really miss “Pointless!”

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