Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Magical Assisi House

Doesn't it look like magic could happen here? I just love it. It's a little place I walked past down an Assisi street, headed on my way to somewhere else. I wonder who lives there and cares for those beautiful flowers. Who is it that walks up that front stoop and looks out the window to see the beautiful view of the Basilica of Saint Claire?

I am having a crazy busy week and have to head off to dreamland to be bright and fresh for the kids at art camp tomorrow! There are 11 sweet kids this week between 5 and 14 years old and so far at week 3 of art camp, we have been blessed with awesome groups of kids. Alas, I still have to be awake. So ... blessings for a beautiful week and I will be back to post soon!

Now is is a time of magic.
Let the universe take your hand
and show you things you have never seen before.

Now, at last, you're open
and vulnerable enough to begin.

Celebrate the magic,
the mystery of the unknown.

Celebrate the miracles that will certainly come.

~Melody Beattie
from Journey to the Heart

Friday, June 25, 2010

Calendimaggio ~ Medieval Stories Come to Life

Friday: Day Two of Calendimaggio

Did I mention they act out medieval stories? This was my absolute favorite and was "produced" by the Parte de Sopra.

With my lack of knowledge of the Italian language (with the exception of being able to order "vino rosso" and ridiculous amounts of food) this is what I got from this particular story. The maiden is sick and dying. Her family is there, then the clergy comes, then the apothecaries ... then finally the women with the herbs show up, do their thing and save the day! (Of course, I mean, was there ever any doubt?!) They all rejoice and dance and it is a beautiful celebration of life, spring and a fabulous reason to have a party ... I mean, festival.

I could be wrong, but let's go with that version!

Calendimaggio 2010

Do not cease to drink beer,
to eat,
to intoxicate thyself,
to make love,
and to celebrate the good days.
~Egyptian Proverb

More Assisi and Calendimaggio to come!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calendimaggio ~ Assisi

Every year on the first full Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May, it happens. Banners wave, horns blow, the drumming starts and the city is draped in flags. The locals in their medieval dress, dance and sing, compete in medieval games and complete to win. 

Parte de Sopra or Parte de Sotto? The upper (above Piazza del Comune) and lower (below the piazza) put on the most amazing medieval spring festival and everyone picks a side ... even the dogs and microphone booms! (see below!)

We were staying in Sotto (lower, with the red scarves) but our local friends Anne and Mauro were from Sopra, so we ended up donning blue scarves and hiding them under our jackets when heading back down to our hotel! This is serious stuff!
And completely and totally magical.
Nobilissima Parte de Sopra

Magnifica Parte de Sotto

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva 
in the Piazza del Commune

More Calendimaggio to come!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spello, Italy

The medieval town of Spello is located about 10 minutes drive from Assisi. I hesitate to use the words "charming" & "beautiful" or even "quaint" because ... well, isn't that how all these little towns are described? Frankly, I am running out of adjectives and am in need of a good thesaurus. Being a bit tired and delirious after a long weekend, I will just let you see for yourself.

One of the extra fabulous things about Spello is that they seem to be a bit flower obsessed. Especially with their window boxes. Apparently there is some kind of front stoop contest that goes on? This is outside of the big flower festival "Infiorata del Corpus Domini" that they have every June. Gotta love the Italians and their amazing festivals. (A lot more on that to come!)

We had an amazing guide take us around Spello. It's difficult to imagine anyone knowing more about Umbria than Anne Robichaud. She's an American who has lived in Italy since 1973, is like a virtual encyclopedia and she knows everyone. She is the one who set us up with our fabulous driver and new friend Mauro who took us to Greccio and Fonte Columbo. If you ever a need a guide, want to set up cooking classes, banquets, or lectures or need some help in Umbria, she's your gal!

So, here is beautiful flower-filled Spello ...

People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us.
~Iris Murdoch
A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Oh, and Spello by the way has some of the most incredibly beautiful frescos I have ever seen. In the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, they are by Pinturicchio in the Capella Baglioni. Truly unbelievable. My photos didn't look so great in the dark chapel, so if you are interested you can go to Santa Maria Maggiore's website and see these frescos as well as their other beautiful works of art and more of Spello.

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend!

Next up? The festival of Calendimaggio in Assisi!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fonte Colombo

Fonte Colombo is called "The Franciscan Sinai." It is considered sacred and was a place Francis loved. He returned here in September of 1223. He fasted on bread and water, prayed alone in his little cave for a month and then dictated his "rule" to brother Leo for his order of friars. This "rule" was approved by Pope Honorius III in November of 1223 and still governs the order of the friars minor today, some 800 years later. (There's a lot more to the story but that's the quick version!)

It is beautiful. It is quiet. On the hillside, it is lush and green and it does feel holy. You feel as though you have stepped into a sacred space. I could have spent the entire day there, (or forever!) meditating, praying and even drawing. I hope one day to go back, when I am in no hurry and just "be."

There is a feeling of safety and peace in this place. I am welling up just thinking about it.

I saw a whole 5 people there outside of my parents and Mauro. 3 were Franciscan monks who probably live there. One was a man we saw in the newer church hanging an icon of the Madonna and trying not to drop her. (My Mom went over and helped him.) And one, other gentleman who was down on one of the pathways.

We had a moment of blue sky when we arrived and then it began to drizzle when I left the Holy Grotto. It felt like mist.

The Cammino di Francesco , or walking path that leads to all the sacred Franciscan sites in the Rieti Valley
(and elsewhere) including Fonte Columbo. Someday ...

The Cloister

The path down to one of the churches Francis loved so much ...

... the Chapel of the Magdalene ...

Brother Leo celebrated Masses here with Francis and to the left
of the altar, in the corner of the window is the "Tau" written
by Francis himself.

The path takes you down to what feels almost like a secret ...

past the beautiful lush nature he loved ...

down steep winding stone steps
to the narrow cave ...

the Holy Grotto of St. Francis

I imagined him here praying in the lush green surroundings ...
in solitude

hearing the sounds of leaves rustling

the cool breeze ...

and flowers coming up through the fallen leaves ...

and I catch a glimpse ...






I try to take them with me,

as I continue on my way