7/20/09

Italy #8

In structure and activity, our second Thursday in Italy looked very much like the day when we traveled to Urbino: 90 minutes of drive time to visit a magnificent old city, lots of steps, lots of heat, and a fantastic meal at Salomone in the evening.

We caravaned to Assisi, but our map-reading skills left something to be desired. We missed the main motorway and wound up going through little towns and villages all the way there. Upon arrival, we parked as high up on the city hill as cars can go. Just off the parking lot was a little sandwich shop tucked beneath greenery and trellises. We instantly made plans to come back up that way for lunch.

Down the hill we all walked, everyone from Casa Rastia along for this trip. St. Francis of Assisi's basilica is massive, with a full three stories at ground level, a smaller two-story cathedral below it, and then the tomb of St. Francis at the very bottom. The paintings on the walls were by Giotto. Breathtaking.

Back up the hill. We descended on that luncheon spot for some food. The poor, lone guy wound up making twelve paninis. Then there was the decision to be made: Who was going to climb La Rocca, the fortress at the very top of the mountain? Our volunteers were few. Keven and I set out and eventually made it to top. It was exceedingly hot that day, and both our thirst and fatigue made the adventure less about sightseeing and more about just saying that we'd accomplished the thing.

Many, many astonishing views later, we returned to the lunch site. Those of us who had to use the restroom before returning to Cerreto had to trek down the hill once again to the basilica, and then back up to the parking lot. Gah. Exhausted.

We returned by late afternoon and stopped for gelato at the same little bar there in Cerreto. Then it was home to nap and get cleaned up for our last dinner as a group. We returned to Salomone and were joined by the ten other English friends and family who were scattered around the area in various accommodations. Paolo and Maria also joined us, for some total of 24 people. It was big, loud, boisterous, and a lot of fun.

By this time, I had been on a full immersion Italian training for about four days. Had Silvia been around, I never would have needed to step up. But as it was, I became the half-assed default translator for our group. Paolo and Maria even sat next to me. I was tapped on the shoulder a number of times through dinner to try and get some sort of point across. And that was the best I could do--gestures, expressions, bad vocabulary...whatever it took. Maybe I was just less embarrassed than everyone else, but the Spanish background didn't hurt either.

Stuffed. Full. OMG.

And then sleep. Another busy, exhausting, wonderful day done.

Next: Our last day in La Marche, and on to Rome.

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