Italy 2000: Assisi
"Medieval Splendor: Hilltowns of Umbria"
Don't miss our trip to Rome

Having come from hot hectic Rome, we had to adjust to the cool, high spiritual air of Assisi. Marco our elderhostel leader made us feel at home. Both Donna and I love St. Francis, so we thought of ourselves as on pilgrimage.

Donna and I with Marco, our leader

Above the Umbrian plain soars the basilica.

Umbria is famous for its wooded hills, many crowned with medieval towns, each with its unique basilica. Because of the many saints produced by the region (St. Benedict, St. Francis and his brothers, St. Clare), it's called la terra dei santi (land of the saints). We were fortunate to be staying in the center of Assissi, which emptied out every evening as the tour buses left. We explored, roaming up and down the cascading stone steps.


Hotel del Sol in Assisi

Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi

Edith Wharton wrote: "We seemed to be driving through the landscape of a missal."

Our daily exercise

Pza del Commune was crowded by day--Assissi was one of the Holy Year cities.

Donna and I are both artists, and we took along our watercolors and sat on our balcony and painted some afternoons. The views across the Umbrian plain were delicious. The colors would be heightened around sunset, when we would rove with our cameras looking for views.

A typical Umbrian hillside--Romans used to retire there and now they're doing it again, or at least having second homes there.

The late evening light was marvelous.

A good painting spot

The Rocca Maggiore is getting a facelift.

We had daily classes in Italian culture, Etruscan art, Umbrian art and architecture, Italian economy, from a number of professors, as part of the elderhostel study emphasis. Almost daily field trips took us by bus to Orvieto, Spoleto, Gubbio, Deruta, and, of course, to Perugia. In addition, Donna and I met a woman in an art gallery who took us to Spello, to see the Pintoricchios there. Every town had beautiful Romanesque churches with similar doors.

Spoleto- Roman Aqueduct

Palazzo dei Consoli-Gubbio


Fillipo Lippi, Coronation of the Virgin,
Spoleto Cathedral

Spoleto Cathedral

Spoleto--Romanesque church

Donna and I are both potters, so we were especially interested in visiting Deruta, where the Italians do their majolica ware, using designs that go back to the Renaissance.
We happened to be in Assisi for October 4, the feast of St. Francis, when there is a procession in Renaissance attire.
On our last day, we went up to the Hermitage (I walked up and back) for a last commune with the spirit of St. Francis.


Orvieto Cathedral

Ceramics in Deruta

The Feast of St. Francis--October 4


So many pieces to choose from

The Feast of St. Francis--October 4

San Rufino- Assissi

Perugia--Fontana Maggiore and Duomo

Eremo dei Carceri--the Hermitage

San Damiano-St. Francis's Hermitage

Rocca Maggiore

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