Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty.
Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty
never grows old.
I woke up Sunday, December 9, (2012) and wondered what the day would have in store! It was my birthday and I was in Assisi, one of my favorite places on the planet! The Christmas Festa was still going on in Assisi and there would be various things on the agenda (musicians, choirs, etc.) and hopefully I would meet up with Nancy and Ben, my new friends from Minnesota.
I walked around town, picked up more goodies in the craft tent, then got hungry walking around. I stopped at the little place I'd been the night before on Via San Francesco. I had eaten there after the tree lighting, with the girls I met from the U.S., and had a little lunch and little birthday vino.
Le Cantine di Oddo
While I was eating, I heard from Nancy and they invited me to lunch ... which I was already eating, so we planned to met up after, over by the fountain in the piazza.
Edna had told me about a little museum, near Chiesa Nuova, the church where we were told a choir would be singing. We had some time, so we decided to pop in.
Arti e Mestieri
I am not quite sure how to describe it, but let's say it's a little quirky. The museum houses arts and crafts of Umbria, and other the "tools of the trade," (including agricultural) collected by the Constantini family, as a way of documenting their Umbrian cultural heritage.
The sign, below, -- I think, is saying it's the storehouse, of the home, of Bernardone family. Pietro Bernardone was a wealthy cloth merchant and the father of Saint Francis. It's a bit confusing because it's not the only place that is related to the home of Francis. Another place, under Chiesa Nuova, says that as well. Google translate won't translate "Fondaco," as an Italian word, but if you go to an Arabic origin, it means "storage."
Anyway ... here it is.
Chastity Belts ...
Ladies' on the left, Guys' on the right. Eeeek!
Lace making tools ...
Roman Aqueduct and ... I'm not sure about the T.V.
Loved the old pots and pans ...
Volpe means "fox." Not really sure what he had to do with anything ... taxidermy?
After the little museum we went to Chiesa Nuova, but found no choir. We looked on the official program and realized we were in the wrong place, so we headed back to the Piazza Commune and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is inside the old Roman Temple of Minerva (1st century B.C.) ... thus the Sopra Minerva. "Sopra" means over, above or on top of, in Italian.
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
By the late 4th and 5th century, paganism was pretty much outlawed and the temple was abandoned. Benedictine monks restored it, in the the late 6th century. Later it was leased to the newly formed Commune of Assisi, in the 13th century. It was used as a jail until the 15th Century, after which it became a church again. (1,000 years in 4 sentences! I think that's a record!)
It was restored over the centuries, with different interiors but what you see now is a 17th century Baroque explosion, that looks like nothing you'd expect, seeing it from the outside. Here you can see the exterior, from my trip in 2010, at Calendimaggio. It's amazing, what great condition the facade is in, after 2,000 years! It's the second from the last photo in that post.
They were singing mostly in English, as I recall, and to our surprise, they did a rendition of Kumbaya!
And then, they did this familiar tune ... (which I captured on my iPhone and uploaded to YouTube!!) so turn up your volume!
I think it's the only video I took on the whole trip, but I am SO glad I did! Doesn't it sound so sweet with their Italian accents! Nancy and I were loving it!
This great shot, below, was taken by Ben. Thanks Ben!
After exploring for a bit, the light began to change. This is looking toward Chiesa Nuova from the main piazza.
That's Santa Maria Maggiore, in silhouette, below.
Below, looking back toward Sopra Minerva ...
And back to Piazza Commune ... for more music!
We weren't quite ready for dinner, so we stopped by the apartment Nancy and Ben were renting, then I took them to Santo Stefano and Santa Maria Maggiore, where they had never been!
Before San Rufino became the Cathedral of Assisi, or "Duomo," Santa Maria Maggiore held that position.
The bishop's palace, on the square next to Santa Maria Maggiore, is where Saint Francis renounced his earthly possessions. He stripped down in front of the town, Bishop Guido and his father who, as you can imagine, was none too happy.
Santa Maria Maggiore
12th Century (current church)
The Church was built out of limestone from Mount Subasio ... so it was made from local materials. ;)
According to tradition, the church was originally founded in the 4th century by a bishop Savino, over yet another Roman pagan temple. This time it was the Roman god Janus. (God of beginnings and transitions.)
Remnants of 14th and 15th century frescoes.
(Below), Madonna and Child
mid 14th Century, attributed to Pace di Bartolo
In 1832, the church, including the frescos and stained glass, were badly damaged by an earthquake. The nave's ceiling and part of the right aisle were were destroyed.
Excavations in 1864 and 1954 identified a Roman residence, of the poet Propertius, who lived in the Court of Emperor Augustus, and was of Assisi. This old Christian crypt is somehow connected to the residence. No one was around to ask and I have gone on several websites it's all unclear. I guess I'll have ask Anne, and see it when I go back! The columns are likely Roman.
After the church, we decided to go enjoy the big Christmas tree at the Basilica of San Francesco.
A wooden nativity that was hidden, the evening before, when the children's choir was singing ...
One of the doors to the lower basilica ...
And then, dinner! I scarfed it down so fast I forgot to take pictures!
We went to one of my very favorite restaurants in Assisi, Trattoria da Erminio. It's up around the corner past the Cathedral of San Rufino, if you are coming from the center of town. So basically, like everything in Assisi, at least one way, it's up hill!
The restaurant opened in 1954, and is still run by the family, now in it's third generation.
It's so yummy! They have a little fire where they grill for you, right there! And the pasta is great ... And the dessert! Don't ask me what it was called but it was the perfect way to end my birthday! And, of course, there was chocolate involved!
Ben, Nancy and I, with our rosy cheeks, from being out in the cold!
Oh, and my little birthday portrait at the basilica!
Birthdays are good for you.
The more you have, the longer you live.
Needless to say, I was very happy to spend my birthday in beautiful, magical, spiritual Assisi! Of course, it was also great to get a slew of birthday emails, texts, and Facebook messages from back home, when I turned my wifi on, back at the hotel!
Those of you that have been on my blog forever, have already seen this video, but for those of you who are new to the blog or happened to have missed it, this video/slide show was from my first trip to Assisi. That was 2008, which somehow feels like a lifetime ago!
So much more to share from Assisi ... all the beautiful spiritual places, and my cooking class, of course!
Blessings and light!