Saturday, August 9, 2008

Assisi Redux

Okay. I said I was going to blog during my time in Assisi, so here I am—just about a week after the fact. So far I’ve been too busy being happy to think about anything else. But I said I was going to blog, I want to blog, so…

I arrived at the Rome airport late last Sunday morning, caught the train from Rome, dozing on and off until Assisi appeared high above me, framed by the window. I wrestled my luggage down to the platform, and pondered whether I should pay fifteen Euros (about $25) for a taxi up to the city or take the bus for a Euro and a half (about $3)…then drag said luggage up two hills to the Hotel Giotto. Feeling intrepid, I headed for the bus. Standing room only! At least I didn’t have to worry about my luggage tipping over. There was no place for it to go.

The hills were…serious. Not to mention the luggage. There was the big rolling suitcase (51 pounds), the smaller rolling suitcase, with computer, books, and everything else I figured I’d absolutely have to have if the big suitcase got lost. So it was pretty heavy, too. Then there was the backpack. And the fact that it was, maybe ninety degrees out. It was slow going. Walk, stop, heart pounding; walk, stop, heart pounding. Switch hands. Walk, stop, heart pounding. Finally, I dragged my luggage up the few steps of the Hotel Giotto, opened the door to the cool lobby—and there it all was…again.

(For a little background on my first experience at Art Workshop International this time last year see blog post “Assisi,” 3-23-08. For now, it’s enough to say that it was wonderful, and I really wanted to come back—but I was a little afraid to come back, too. I mean, can something be perfect twice? It can, actually. At least, so far.)


I have the same cozy room I had last year. The minute I closed the door behind me, I went to the window, and here’s what I saw.

Could anything be more inviting? Wouldn’t you just love to float down into that little cloistered garden with its pillars and cypresses and have a glass of wine?

I turned slightly, and there was a view of the bell tower of San Pietro and its round cupola, the whole valley stretching to the mountains beyond.

I took a walk through the city, down to the church of Santa Chiara for good luck, since it was there that I saw her cloak and one of San Francesco’s and began to understand what it was like to have a visual idea. I sat awhile in the sunny piazza, breathing in Italy. Then headed up through the Piazza Communale, and down again toward the Basilica of San Francesco, stopping for a lemon gelato on the way. There were the Giottos in the Upper Basilica, just where I had left them last August. And the most beautiful of S. Francesco’s cloaks, the one I painted last year, in its glass case in the room of the saint’s relics. The Lower Basilica, dimly lit, every surface frescoed so that it seems as if you’re walking through a dream.

Later, there was dinner on the terrace—the sky turning pink, a fingernail clipping of moon appearing.

And then I slept.

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