Monday, March 15, 2010

Under the Umbrian Sun

Wow it’s been a while! Sorry about that, lots of work to do. But that also leads to lots to catch you up on.

For my 21st birthday, after a night out on the town, four of us girls left for Viterbo, Italy, which is famous for its natural hot sulfur springs. It’s a very cute, medieval town, with winding roads and a few nice piazzas. The springs themselves are out in the middle of nowhere—a field on the side of the road, with lots of half-naked Italians. Let me clarify: there are 3 types of springs, one that tourists pay 20 euro to go to, one that residents pay to be members of, and one free one. Four college students on a budget? We go to the free one. Anyway, we’re sitting on the side of the road with these Italians and they’re very intrigued with the four American girls who have just crashed the party. They all head to the springs weekly (maybe even daily) and they all know each other. We stuck out like a sore thumb, but for the most part they were welcoming and offered to take pictures for us. Did I mention they were SULFUR springs?? Yeah, for the rest of the day, I walked around smelling like rotten eggs. They were very hot and relaxing tough. Like sitting in a natural hot tub for 2 hours. We rode home feeling very relaxed and rested.

The next weekend, my friend Liz and I traveled to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis and St. Claire, which is about 2 hours away from Roma by train. The scenery is exquisite; each little hill town is prettier than the last. This is Umbria, the only of Italy’s states that is landlocked, and called the “Green Heart of Italy.”

It’s known for its sausage and truffles. Assisi was GORGEOUS, up on a hill of course, surrounding the Basilica of St. Francis, which houses his remains. It’s a very pretty church, but like I’ve said, all of the churches (except for a few key ones) are all blending together in my memory.
We had beautiful weather and enjoyed walking up through the narrow streets to get to the castle at the top. After an amazing lunch of pasta with sausage in a truffle cream sauce (easily one of my best meals ever) we hiked to the top and saw the entire town below us. The streets are at such an angle that many have stairs and a kind of “sidewalk” on the sides just large enough for car tires. You have to be a master driver to have a car here. It was a really fun day trip with both a plan (seeing the Basilica and Castle) and a bit of wandering.

Then Mom and Dad showed up, which clearly deserves its own post!! Coming soon, after a bit of midterm studying!! ☺