Spoleto

First stop was San Damiano an important site for St Francis . The church was built between8- 9century and st Francis predicted it would be the dwelling place of Clare who followed his ways and her followers who were called the Poor Clares. It was a simple and peaceful site and the cloisters lovely with many potted cyclamen. There was a bronze sculpture of st Francis looking out over the plain.
Spoleto- it took about 40 minutes there. The fun started when we tried to find the parcheggio we thought would be closer to the castle where we wanted to go. Works my with google we ended up in a couple of   Tights streets. We did find a parking no area but had no idea whether we were close and the role we spoke to had no English at all.
But we persevered and eventually caught sight of Information sign near town. Again it was impressive as there were lifts up to the piazza libertarian. We headed up to the castle and again took lifts to the top. The castle was great with beautiful views over the town. The large castle was a museum with restored frescoes and part thereof. It showed how they would have lived – there was an aqueduct behind .
Heading down from the castle we had a crostini and panini lunch with water and wine looking down on the beautiful cathedral which had a huge square space in front of it. The whole town was pretty empty of tourists which was great.
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Half way back down we came across the amazing underground moving footway which takes you up and down through the town.
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Last stop was the Roman theatre which was very well preserved really – the museum had some very old archaeological remains such as pots and jewellery..
Headed back to Assisi and drive to Erwin Della Carceri which was a place of sanctuary for St Francis – it is in a bush setting above and behind Assisi. Just a brief stop as we wanted to practice getting into Assisi as we wanted to be able drive in to get our luggage. Success!
Dinner was excellent in a beautiful setting – on a terrace overlooked big the plain . It was mild with no wind and very pretty with the glittering lights below. Menu – wild boar stew for Peter and pasta with artichokes and lamb for me. We shared a chocolate and almond dessert. On leaving ended up chatting to the single American woman who was on the table next to us / Californian in Italy doing a language course.

Perugia

Another beautiful day of sunny weather- we planned ahead where to go and we had an easy 40 minute drive to Perugia- found the the car park at the foot of the hill where the historic center of the city is. From the car park we caught the driverless mini metro up the hill to historic center . There are seven stops and it takes 20 minutes. They continually cycle around and there is no waiting. The locals use it too. A very impressive and efficient system. At the top there are a series of escalators that take you further.
It is a stylish city and quite compact with a main walkway to the key sites
The main piazza – Piazza del Priori where there is a substantial medieval fountain -Fontana Maggiore – with the signs of the zodiac. The duomo is impressive as they all are – this time with more stained glass.
The Etruscan arch was with a visit, towering over us with 2 trapezoidal towers and Augustan inscription over the entrance.
We walked back to the other end for some views down and then had a typical lunch of salad and brushetta fighting the pesky pigeons!!
Headed off a bit after 2pm to Bevagna one of the local recommended towns. It was very sleepy ! Walked around / things were chiuso but had a nice cup of tea. Don’t think we made it to the main town centre.
We went back to Assisi to try to practice getting into the town. Again Google took us the same way so we left it and headed back.
Dinner was at Il vicilo- nice presentation and they tried but food was very average despite it being 2 on Trip advisor.

Assisi Day 2

 

We walked up the hill to the Roca Maggiore and the castle which commands 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside- dating from 1200s. Quite an impressive castle to explore with some rooms with models of of people appropriately dressed from the period and weaponry. Some excellent large photos of reenactments of the past. We climbed the many spiral stairs to the to for panoramic views.

Walked down gorgeous via sante Croce to the Basilica of San Francis. The streets are beautiful, clean, flowering pots on the windows – totally picture postcard
The Basilica is huge and commanding site- there is a lower level with 2 wings of chapels and then you descend into the tomb of St Francis. Again mAny tourists- a lot wanted to touch the tomb of st Francis- there are lots of religious tourists. Then there is the superior Basilica above with frescoes of st Francis’ life by Giotto. Army presence there as was the case at the piazza del Campo in Siena.
Strolled to main square for lunchat oneof the many places. Place is very busy.
Visited The Cathedral is large and simpler than the other in Romanesque style. Then onto the archaeological museum which gave a good insight into what the area would have been like in Roman times- i.e. The temple of Minerva . Walked over old Roman pavement and saw headstones and inscriptions – interesting.
Huge antipasto platter with all sorts of things on it followed by siciliana pizza – anchovies and black olives

Assisi Day 1

Managed to get back to the car and leave Siena easily. Trip to Assisi on main road was easy too as there wasn’t much traffic.
More fun when we tried to get into our accommodation. This time using google map we were taking into the old town – very narrow in parts. In La Casina Colorata we have a spacious family  sized room and lovely sitting area and breakfast room.
Assisi is just gorgeous – pretty on top of a hill. Fabulous 3rd century and the Temple of Minerva which became a Christian church in the 1300.
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Assisi is synonymous with St Francis- it has a huge religious significance for many and it is obviously a place of pilgrimage. There are 100s of tourists and many tour groups. All the many tourist shops are selling mainly religious items of all sorts.
The people on the tour group are mostly religious we think wearing crosses- many Americans, Germans and a big group of Indians . There are quite a few monks and nuns around and of different nationalities.
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Church of San Chiara- very interesting – compose of 2 main chapels and the crypt of San Chiara and the reliquaries of St Francis and others. The tourists were religious and clearly in silence meditation.
St Francis reliquaries included his simple robe. Also stories of st Clare who was a noblewoman who followed st Francis much to the opposition of her family
Saint Francis of Assisi was a Catholic friar who gave up a life of wealth to live a life of poverty. He established the Franciscan Order of friars and the women’s Order of the Poor Ladies. Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. He grew up leading a privileged life as the son of a wealthy cloth merchant.
The Italian mystic St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) founded the religious order known as the Franciscans. He became renowned for his love, simplicity, and practice of poverty.
Francis’ devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God’s creation. St. Francis cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God. St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology, was born in Italy around 1181 or 1182.
1224, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, as a result of which he received the stigmata. Brother Leo, who had been with Francis at the time, left a clear and simple account of the event, the first definite account of the phenomenon of stigmata. “Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ.”[36] Suffering from these stigmata and from trachoma, Francis received care in several cities (Siena, Cortona, Nocera)

Siena Day 3

Museo Civico: this is Siena’s city museum and is located on the first floor of Palazzo Pubblico. The range of exhibits including paintings, frescoes, sculptures and more from the Senese school. There are frescoes depicting the creation (? Reunification?) of Italy (19th century), also for Pope Alexander lll also beautiful allegorical frescoes by Domenico Beccafumi. There is also a Chapel with frescoes by Taddeo Di Bartolo.
After this we walked to the Siena Cathedral built between 1215 and 1263 in gothic style by Nicola Pisano. Features: the amazing black and white styled Campanile. In the pavement of the Cathedral there are 59 panels of marble etched and inlaid showing scenes from the Bible and Siena’s history. The walls are covered with paintings and frescoes.

 


Next visited was the Museo dell’ Opera: This is a private museum with treasures and relics from the Cathedral. It has statues, icons, and relics – also we climbed the museums tower that gave us an amazing view of the Cathedral and the rooftops of Siena.

Nice Dinner that night: pork with truffle sauce and I had rare steak with pepper corns. Dessert included dipping biscotti into a sweet liquor.

Siena Day 2

Took a walk around Siena to locate out starting point for the afternoon tour to Chianti region then headed backwards to the Duomo piazza to go to Santa Maria Della Scalia . It was excellent especially the Pilgrims hall with frescoes of the medical/ hospital work which was done there- very interesting.
There are so many tourists in Siena!
Chianti tour-
This was a delightful guide with faltering but good English. Superb weather for our drive through the Tuscan countryside. First stop – Castellina de Chianti – very pretty town . Walking with a tour group is NOT us – you don’t have time to take it in. We did chat to a nice Perth couple
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Second stop – San Gimignano – a gorgeous hilltop town but totally packed with tourist even though it was 4.30 in the afternoon- mainly sat and tried the local wine.
Third stop – Cantine  Tuscans Vineyard. The wines were very good – went through from white to big reds and a dessert wine accompanied by bread, biscuits, salami, cheese, special oils olive and truffle and balsamic vinegar- some interesting chat with Americans on our table

Siena Day 1

Another beautiful day weather wise – easy drive to Siena by the expressway seeing some pretty hilltop towns.
The fun started when we tried to park. The free car park we had been told about was full and with no expectation of getting one we reset the gps for the pay car park . It led it is through the narrow streets of the center of the town filled with tourists. We followed another car which didn’t seem to know what it was as doing either- fortunately we went down a street which led to outside the walls. Still ended up receiving a fine for driving through a pedestrian area – thank you Italy for ripping off tourists!!! Following google on the mobile we eventually made it around and through the gate to the car park. We walked with our luggage to our B and B – up and down. Big things were happening in our street and there were preparations for celebration
We weren’t sure what to expect as there was no one at  office. We rang and she eventually came- delightful – very proud of Siena and told us plenty of history and what to expect that night. This area of Siena had won the horse race.
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The Palio di Siena (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːljo di ˈsjɛːna]; known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race that is held twice each year,on 2 Julyand16 August, in Siena, Italy. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards. The Palio heldon 2 Julyis named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, a Marian devotion particular to Siena which developed around an icon from the Terzo Camollia. The Palio heldon 16 Augustis named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.
Our accommodation is so well located about 100 meters from the Piazza del Campo. The weather was magnificent and we sat on the ground taking it in with many others.
Had lunch at local recommended restaurant – Peter had local dish – pappardelle with wild boar sauce.
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Siena is busy with tourists but totally gorgeous – walked up to the duomo which was brilliant white in the sunshine.
We had a fantastic Saturday night in our street. The street had been set up with different themes from key museums e.g. Louvre,Cairo, British- so there were people dressed up -can can girls, mummies, the pipe and cardinals,opera characters. There was live music at the Moulin Rouge-fabulous. Good and drink was sold by vouchers – Soooooo much fun. Wall to wall  people.