Dear Blog readers,
First of all, we send our sincere sympathies to those of you suffering with below zero temperatures back in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Alas, we cannot empathize, however, because our 60-degree temperatures do not cause us stress or discomfort at all, although it was a bit chilly in the shade.
Today was designated for Francis of Assisi, the originator of the Franciscan Order of monks, a humble man who dedicated his life to the poor and unfortunate people of the 1200s. His hillside home is one of the most picturesque towns in all of Italy, located high above the plains of Umbria. Leaving Orvieto early, we traveled by train and bus to Assisi. Once there, we walked a steep road to the pinnacle of town to gaze at the olive tree-clustered hills below. Most of us removed our jackets, and we needed frequent rest stops along the way. The view was worth it, as was the great Basilica, built in honor of Francis himself. We thoroughly enjoyed the venture to the west, and we have many great pictures to show for it. (Some of these may be posted here in the near future.)
Arriving “home” in Orvieto’s train station a few hours ago, we walked across the street to board the funicular, the cable car tram that takes people from the bottom of this city to the cliffs high above, where we live. After dinner (a later supper, actually) we heard more student presentations in the classroom, wrote about our experiences in Assisi, and headed back to our rooms to pack for an overnight trip to Florence and Pisa.
Tomorrow will be doubly exciting because we will spend the morning and part of the afternoon in the city that spawned the Renaissance, Firenze (Florence). This city connects with our ancient Italian authors as well more modern American authors who have lived and traveled there. By mid-afternoon we will board another train to take us to Pisa, home of the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. We’ll stay overnight in a couple of hostels, ladies in one, guys in another, and then return to Florence again on Thursday for more explorations.
The blog entries may be delayed for a day or two because of this “overnighter,” but we will return soon afterward. Keep reading. Stay tuned. Stay warm.
God bless all of you.
The Italian Connection
Dr. Martin Moldenhauer