Saturday, December 09, 2006

Italian Adventure Pt 3 Assisi

We awoke Sunday morning bright and early and very well rested. We jumped into the shower and were pleasantly surprised by the sumptuous and thick bath towels instead of the strange tea towels which are often found in Italian hotels. We snuck out onto the balcony surrounding our room and took a few photos of the sun rising through the mist. The colour of light is astounding in the south of Italy and you can take lovely photos at almost any time of the day, especially at this time of the year. The light is pure gold and sweeps across the ancient tile roofs, making everything instantly softer, richer, and warmer. After a country breakfast with delicious warm bread and organic fig jam, Dorothea gave us a guided tour of the palace, which is filled with unusual collections from nativity sets to porcelain animals, and antique books. We left Venafro with a feeling of wanting more. It's definitely off the beaten track but well worth the time, and for us, it was pretty much on our way to our next stop- Assisi.

We arrived in Assisi in the middle of the afternoon and found ourselves having to deal with extremely narrow ancient streets, quite a task with a large SUV. At one point we were stuck and just didn't think we could go any further so we asked a young man if he knew where the Hotel Pallotta was. At first he tried to explain in a mix of Italian and English but then he finally asked if he could just jump in the backseat and direct us. Lucky us! A street which to us looked hardly wider than a sidewalk turned out to be the road we should take and in no time at all we were parked and he was leading us through the pedestrian area of the town all the way to the hotel, where he made sure we were given over to the hotelier before waving his hand and bidding us arrivederci! This time we had booked a tiny treasure of a hotel, perched over a wonderful little archway leading into the town. Our room, not luxurious at all, was clean and comfortable. We left our bags and went exploring the village of P's favourite saint- Francis. What a gem of a town. Set on the side of a hill, the streets wind up and down with sets of old stairs tucked between age-old buildings. It's a very good town for working your legs. We stopped (often!) for esspresso, gelato (the best!), and limoncello, P's current drink of chioice. We gawked at the incredible windows of pastries, pinocchio's, and plastic statues of St. Francis. We followed our map in the direction of the cathedral but just couldn't find it. Stumped, we stood scratching our heads. Suddenly the thick fog cleared just enough for us to see that we were standing right in front of the church! We walked around the cathedral and made our way to the underground tomb of St. Francis, where visitors circled in silence. I felt like a pilgrim myself and came away with a greater appreciation for this saint with a cheerful face, a warm and loving heart, and a gentle way with all of nature. How can you not respect that?

The Hotel Pallotta also runs a trattoria where we decided to have dinner. I had a wonderful dish of homemade pasta- the name I can't recall- a thick spaghetti swirled high on my plate and loaded with slivers of tartufo- Italian truffles. It was delicious and my mouth waters even now as I think of it. A nighttime stroll around the deserted town and we headed off to bed, only to discover that everytime P moved even a tiny bit, the bed squeaked loud enough to keep every cat awake. We laughed and decided to put up with it. Somehow we both slept like babies and woke up bright and early, refreshed and ready for another delicious cup of cappucino.

This shower was really funny as you can see in the photo, with the shower nozzle coming out of the wall right into the bathroom! No shower curtain, now separate stall- very interesting indeed. You truly could brush your teeth, use the toilet, and wash your hair all at the same time! Those clever Italians!

Now on to Monday!


Jul said...

Mmmmm that spaghetti picture made me drool!

christina said...

Oh, this is just lovely! Thanks so much for the travelogue. Can you believe I've never been to Italy? Well, except for stopping briefly at a gas station to change a flat tire while we were on our way to somewhere else. Not all that picturesque. :-)

CanadianSwiss said...

The shower is great! It just gets difficult when one is showering and the other is trying to dry off in the bathroom.

That spaghetti looks absolutely fantastic. M-Mmmm!

MsDemmie said...

Have really been enjoying reading about your travels.

Hopefully next year we will be able to travel more.