Crime Writer in Italy:Week Two

Assisi is simply splendid!

Through the ages, all of its inhabitants have left their mark on it.  The site it occupies speaks of the Etruscans who built their stronghold towns on the tops of the steep thumbs of land that stick up high over the surrounding area, giving them a vantage point to warn them of an approaching enemy.

The Romans came next and built their town on the Etruscan site.  The Roman remains are visible in the temple of Minerva in the Piazza del Commune.  As with many other Roman temples all over Italy, this one was preserved by incorporating it into a Christian church.

Piazza del Commune
Closer look at the Temple of Minerva
But the Assisi one sees today is a medieval city.  It even lives within its old walls.  Its aspect makes sense since it owes its modern fame to St. Francis who was born there in 1182.  The son of a well-to-do draper, he literally gave up his goods to feed the poor.  His love of all living things pervaded the work of his followers and today makes him the patron saint of and his birthplace a mecca for environmentalists and peace movements.

The artists who came shortly after his death to build the basilica in his honor based their work on his reverence for nature, and in doing so they transformed western art.  The Renaissance reached its peak in Florence, but its seeds were first planted here.

The Rocca Maggiore, Assisi's medieval castle

Typical medieval hill street
The view from our room.
The Basilica of San Francesco

The cloister of the monastery attached to the basilica

The nave of the upper basilica

The upper basilica, looking toward the entrance

The Church of Santa Chiara
Detail of the facade of Santa Chiara, here because I love lions

Interior of Santa Chiara

Did I say that one eats extremely well in Assisi's restaurants and trattorias?  And its narrow streets are lined with marvelous shops with specialize in local sausages, salamis, and every form of the delicious black truffles of Umbria.  One sweet shop displays huge masses of chocolate that look like mortadella or gigantic Perugina kisses, but my favorite was this one--the Meteorite of the Mayans.  I assume the world did not end on 12-21-12 because the meteorite that was to have destroyed the planet was made of chocolate.  I bought a piece to take home.  Would it be too much to say that the Meteorite of the Mayans is to die for?

We arrived at home to see the full moon shining over the
Palazzo dell Signoria.  Here's the terrace view of it.
By the time you see this, I will have left for Rome.  Tuesday begins a three day sojourn there, only an hour and a half from Florence by fast train.  Stay tuned.