Sunday, December 18, 2016

12/17 -- Isola Maggiore and Assisi

We drove to Lake Trasimeno in Umbria and took a boat to Isola Maggiore, where St. Francis is said to have spent Lent one year. The island is a favorite tourist haunt during the summer and has 16 permanent residents. At one time,  it was an important fishing center and figured out how to farm fish in the middle ages. It had a population of about 600 during its heyday.

We visited because of its connection to St. Francis. There is a statue of St. Francis along the shoreline  and two rocks of importance. One is supposed to show the impressions of his elbows and knees when he came ashore and fell to the ground in gratitude. The other is indentations on the rock where he slept.
On the shore before the boat ride.

"Main street Isola Maggiore" -- the only real street.

Statue of St. Francis

The dents in the rock are knee and elbow
imprints after St. Francis arrived on the island.

The rock in the back  has indentations (impossible
to see in this photo) that show where St. Francis
slept on the island.

We walked to the top of the island for a panoramic view and got to visit the church at the tops, which was simple, with lovely frescos on the walls.

View of the mainland from the top of the island

Church of Michale Arcangel
Frescoes on one wall

Interior of the church
We walked down the hill for lunch, then took the boat to the mainland and headed for Assisi, which is spectacular from a distance. It was built with a lot of pinkish limestone and most of it was cleaned up after an earthquake in the 90s, so the whole place practically sparkles.
Assisi from the road

Arch in the lower middle is the entrance to the lower church

Above and below: interiors of the lower church. The dark blue
ceiling has gold stars painted on it. Pardon the flash that impacts
both photos of the postcards. Neither does the reality justice.

There are two churches here, one of top of the other, which are both quite elaborate, an irony considering St. Francis extolled poverty. Because Franciscans can't own anything, the properties were built and maintained by the Vatican and feature wonderful art. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed, but I got a couple  postcards to give you an idea of the lower church. The upper church was closed because of a special event.
The upper church

We walked through the town and I got a wool sweater to supplement my warm clothing supply because Italy is having a cold wave and I am a little short on truly warm clothing. We finally headed to Trevi and our next hotel, which used to be a 17th century palazzo with lots of original furnishings and period features like very high ceilings, but also modern amenities like private baths and towel heaters..

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