Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carceri ~ Eremo di San Francesco ~ Assisi

Eremo delle Carceri is one of my favorite places to visit in Assisi. (Along with San Damiano,) It isn't actually right in town, as you might have gathered. It's up on the side of a mountain, like the sanctuaries I visited in The Rieti Valley. You can walk up from Assisi, people do, but it's a hike. 4 km up a steep road. Seems longer. I however, took a cab on my first trip almost two years ago. I was by myself and had a lot to see. And plus I figured a) I was out of shape and b) I didn't have the time.

This last trip in May, I took my parents. It was another beautiful, chilly day at the hermitage. This time our friend Ted drove us. We'd met Ted and his wife Lyn through Anne Robichaud, our guide in Spello and had been having a great time with them hanging in the "Taverna" set up for the Calendimaggio festival. Ted offered to take us up in his car to Carceri. He and his wife (who are from Australia) were spending several months in Italy, mostly in Umbria.

These photos are a mix of my two trips to Carceri. It is peaceful and lush like the other sanctuaries but this is the one I saw first and it holds a special place in my heart.


There are many small gathering places, altars and chapels where people still pray today under the trees, while hearing the birds and leaves rustle overhead. Many pilgrims make crosses of twigs and leave them in prayer and offering along with rosaries and photos and notes. It is monastery today and there are a few friars who live in this beautiful place.

On my first trip two years ago, I saw the cave or "grotto" of brother Ruffino and I was shocked by the tiny, cold, stone crevice, only large enough to slide into on your belly. This is looking from the point of view of the cave.

That first time, I was on a mission to see everything ... so much so that I wasn't taking my time ... taking in the moment. I mean, I was taking in the beauty and everything but I was busy looking for caves, taking pictures, hoping it wouldn't rain and wondering how I would get down the hill since I told the taxi not to wait. Busy, busy mind.

Ruffino had been a nobleman, Saint Claire's cousin and "the shy one." He was one of the first 12 brothers to join Francis and was close to him until he died. He is buried in the Basilica in Assisi along with Leone, Masseo, and Angelo around the tomb of St. Francis. This moves me to tears at the very thought. Being there, it's hard to hold it together.

Then I explored the beautiful pathways ... (all the while taking photos ... lots to do!)

And the cave of Brother Leone, Francis' confessor,
who I also mentioned above, was with St. Francis at Fonte Columbo
and was the brother to whom Francis dictated his "Rule."

And then ... with no one around ...

I found ...
the cave of brother Masseo.

Down the stone steps I went.
It was like finding a hidden treasure ...

I crawled in and I sat.
I looked out, where he had looked
and I sat.

I breathed.
I prayed.
And then I sat for a long time
closing my eyes,
looking up

And then I sketched. I wanted to take in and remember every detail.

I know it sounds like "doing" but I realized how different it is for me photographing something, than taking the time to sketch. I found that it made me even more present and in the moment. I took time and it was the most "in the moment" I'd felt since I'd arrived on that first trip. It was a beautiful time and was truly a gift ... "being" and really seeing this place and something about my self.

So you see why it became one of my favorite places.
It was a gift.

Take a breath.

Be present.


Gli Eremi

After spending maybe two hours at Carceri (by the way, the cab drivers will tell you "You only need 30 minutes! I will wait!") Ted suggested that we stop on our way down the hill at Gli Eremi for cappuccinos and a snack. The inside was packed but the sweetest Italian couple offered to share their table right outside which was so much nicer and more memorable. They were from Civitanova in The Marche region and had come to spend the day together in Assisi. They were very friendly and seriously adorable.

It's amazing the people you meet on your travels and just how open and wonderful people are. (Especially in a place like Italy!) This was just another example. Our little snack turned into beautiful antipasto, wonderful bread and wine and fabulous boar stew and best of all, fantastic company.

Turns out it was Mother's Day! We'd almost forgotten until Lonedana (in the sunglasses!) reminded us. She was so such a sweetheart. She said, "From the Italian Mamma to the American Mamma" and pulled a butterfly ornament out of her handbag and gave it to my Mom. I thought they might both burst into tears. It was such a sweet moment. That's our new friend Ted from Sidney in the middle and as you might have guessed, my parents on this side of the table. (I had only temporarily spaced out, my Mom's Mother's Day card was safely tucked away in my suitcase. Shockingly I had thought ahead!)

You can also order inside and take your food below to the picnic tables

... and have a view like this!

Ristorante Bar Gli Eremi di Perla Dania
Via Eremo Delle Carceri, 15

Friendship is the golden thread

that ties the heart of all the world.


Sunday, July 25, 2010


I was going to post her later ... after I fixed the snake. It looks fake because, frankly it was. It was a fake rubber snake. So I planned to find a snake on Google images and fix the snake. That was a month ago. Other than the snake issue, I like my drawing so what the heck. I'll fix it later.

It's of one of my favorite models Fay and was done right before the summer figure drawing break. It was a long pose, which I love (time to get into detail, even in the fabric!) At the last minute Fay grabbed an apple from the still life basket of fruit we use for day classes at the studio. It felt very Renaissance to do something "biblical" (Thus, of course, feeding into my currant post-Italy trip obsession!)

We may have gotten carried away with the snake but it was just too fun to pass up.

Fay as "Eve" 2010 Charcoal and pastel on Fabriano paper

The possibilities for joy are limitless
if we can do what feels good to us-
in work, in life, in love in play.

Learn to become comfortable with joy.
You have the power to create joy
by choosing what feels good to you.

The time for joy isn't later.
The time for joy is now.

~Melody Beattie
Journey to the Heart

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kid's and Costumes ~ Calendimaggio 2010

Well, I guess I am on a theme this week with all the kids. I just decided to go with it!

One of the things that was so special about the Calendimaggio Festival in Assisi was seeing how the whole community was involved, including the kids! Moms and dad's and grandpas ... siblings and pals. It was so fun to watch their enthusiasm and joy, though some of the tiny ones didn't quite know what was going on and the drums were a little loud for others. They were all so cute, I just had to share!

"Children are the hands by which take hold of heaven."
~Henry Ward Beecher

Have a beautiful weekend my friends!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Art Camp II - More Cool Creative Kids

O.K. I had to add some more "Wizard of Art" Summer Workshops photos! Aren't they adorable? Seriously?

Owen Artist, age 6

Bay Artist, age 5

Mirelle Artist, age 7

Zoey Artist, sculptor of flowers, age 6

Molly Artist age 13

Anna Artist, printmaker and lover of Picasso age 13

Francesca Artist, sculptor, humorist, age 9

Left to right ... Me, Paul (the wizard himself) Mekenzie and Donna (who runs the place and 2nd mama to us all!)

Yep that's me. Glasses, paint on my pants ... I am glad I am smiling! Mekenzie is definitely taller than the rest of us and always in a groovy skirt covered in paint ... Yep, got her too!

"There are no seven wonders of the world

in the eyes of a child.

There are seven million."

~Walt Streightiff

More art camp to come, ... after more Italy! I still haven't made it to the Amalfi Coast!