The train to Perugia in the region of Umbria was a dream. Rolling green hills and vineyards passing. It was a region frozen in time. Perugia is the capital of the region Umbria, but it was very medieval and still had all the architecture thus. One of my favorite towns in all of Italy, the whole feeling was welcoming and no one spoke english. Also, the nicest people I met in all of Italy in this region. I can't tell you how many people shook my hand. I had great conversations with the most random people. It was bustling too because Al Gore was in town because it was the international journalism conference. The morning air was crisp and a little moist. I went to the lookout point by myself and sat their in the eastern sun looking at the panorama that was spread out before me. This country is so incredible with its secrets. I will never uncover them all...but I can try.
Assisi. The hometown of St. Francis. I have been waiting to go since I arrived, and I am glad I waited until the weather was nicer. The train pulled up to the station and I stepped out with my roommate Alex. We saw Assisi, on the hill overlooking the Umbrian valley. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was absolutely perfect. The bus ride up the hill took 10 minutes and brought us right up to the entrance of Assisi. It was quiet. Sunny. Clean. A beautiful city. The green of the valley looked almost fake but it was very very real. Many hills and alleys in this medieval town. I appreciated the architecture as I passed and watched as monks walked by frequently. The stillness of the whole area was tranquil and reassuring. There were churches every ten feet and the franciscan symbols everywhere. We spent a whole day there relaxing in the fields. Lots of hiking and vineyards. We ate at a great place and then walked around some more visiting the main Church of Saint Francis which was awesome! Assisi was a very touching experience to be so close to something as holy as St. Francis...I loved it.
For now, I venture back to Rome, only a short time left...
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
My mission in Sarno was to acquire the certificates of my great grandparents. I tried this but could not find the exact person to match my description. However I did meet some relatives and stayed with them. They took me by storm. They drove me all over the city to meet more relatives. I could not keep track of who was who and got a ton of practice in italian. They were all so accepting and giving. The hospitality was phenomenal! I ate a HUGE lunch the first day and sat and talked about my life and relatives in the States. Then I went to my cousins house named Danny and I stayed their with him and his mom. I was pampered and doted upon the whole time. I woke up to fresh espresso and a croissant every morning and I spoke in italian the whole time. I then walked around the town and sat at the beach looking out at the coast. These days passed quickly with all the activity and eating. I enjoyed myself immensely but knew it was time to leave. After giving my goodbye kisses to everyone, Danny drove me to the port where I met my two friends Molly and Jacob and we departed on a ferry to Amalfi and the the island Capri. The ferry ride was my favorite. It gently glided across the clear blue water staring at the rocky coast with houses and villages tucked away. The salty sea air whipped around the ferry's flag making a gentle swishing sound. I just stared at Sarno/Salerno as it grew smaller in the distance. The homeland of my grandparents is right there. I am a part of this as well. It was a great experience.
We soon arrived at Capri and started exploring the island. The water was amazingly blue! Capri had a lot of steps because it is basically one large rock. Needless to say we were tired at the end of the day! The coolest part of it though was the Blue Grotto. We got into a small row boat and the guy brought us into the grotto. It was quiet, dark, and the water shown bright azur reflecting the light from beneath. The guy then sang "Come Back to Sorrento" which was beautiful! Exiting the Grotto we then took a bus back to the port to take a ferry to Sorrento! By far my favorite city on the Amalfi coast, Sorrento was small but not miniscule, large but not enormous. We rolled up to it on our huge ferry and entered the city. The center was bustling with activity. The sun was out and the weather perfect. We wandered around near the coast and the shops just meandering around enjoying ourselves. We eventually found the hostel we booked and it was a cooking school! We also got upgraded to a private room with a bathroom and balcony! That night we decided that after dinner we would buy wine and sit out on the patio and play cards overlooking Mt. Vesuvius and the sea. A marvelous night it was indeed with friends.
The next day we caught a train to Pompei and explored a Roman city caught in time by the explosion of a monster. The ruins were chilling. People still in their poses when they died were lying in eternal rest. Everything looked like it still functioned and was very real. The city was just so huge it took most of the day. After that though we took another train to Naples. Here, we did one thing and one thing only. Pizza. We each at two pizzas because they were so good. We chose the best place in Naples too. 4 hours later we are back on a train on the way to Rome once again. The trip was well worth it because we got to see about 6 cities in a weekend! I used tons of italian and love meeting new people! The landscape down south was some of the most beautiful I have seen and hope to return! Now back in Rome I feel at home and await my next journey.