Monday, August 24, 2009

Italian in Assisi, Part Two

I will be returning to Rome this coming Wednesday, to begin preparation for school in October. It has been a truly profound experience to be here in Assisi for five weeks. I have seen so much! I have visited six basilicas, three monasteries, a hermitage, and at least ten churches. I have been to two concerts, watched three firework shows, and played in two soccer games (with other Italians, might I add). And yes, with the little time I have had left, I have been studying Italian.
I am amazed at how one can learn so much in a month, particularly regarding language. The human mind is incredible!

This picture is of the chapel where St. Francis received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ).

I was recently wondering why, despite all the wonderful Italian food I have been eating, I have not gained any weight (yet). One of my seminarian brothers explained to me the reason: there are two hundred plus steps between my room and the dining hall. This means, every day, I have walked approximately up and down one thousand steps (250 x 4 trips). My legs are definitely getting a workout! It is good, though, because when I return to Rome, the main means of travel will be my legs. The more I walk now, the more I will be able to travel comfortably in Rome. There is a lot to see and do in Rome, so I better get ready for it.

Peter, from New York City, and me chilling in the shade.

I am again out of time. So I will continue this blog later, and hopefully finish the other two which I have not finished yet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Small Cities and One Big Mountain

I will be finishing this post soon, but until then, enjoy the picts!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Italian in Assisi, Part One

(July 26th to August 9th)

Well, it has been awhile since I have had time to post. Sorry about that! My excuse is that I am in an ancient city that has very little internet access. That’s the truth. Plus, I am in Italian class for six and a half hours every day, so I must admit that by the end of the day I am pretty tired!
Of course, I will try to relate every detail about my adventures here in Assisi to you, but I am regretfully certain that my words will not (and cannot) express the true beauty of this place. So, when my words fail....I will post pictures for you instead!

La città è bellisima, vero?

The city is really amazing. Everything is made of stone and bricks. The houses are made of stone and brick, the roads are all stone and brick, the sidewalks are stone and brick…I could go on. What I really love are the frescoes which are painted here and there on every street. There are pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, depictions of St. Francis and St. Clare, and pictures of the city patron, San Rufino. Certainly, I love too that almost every street has a chapel on it. I really cannot describe it well, to be honest. I will try to take good pictures for you to see!

Now let me tell a little about what I have been doing in my spare time. I have visited the Basilicas of St. Francis, St. Clare, and St. Rufino. I have been to several other churches in the city as well (I will not list them all). I have visited all the different piazzas in the area, and have eaten as much delicious gelato in each of them as I could. I will be a gelato expert in no time!
I am here with about thirty other seminarians in my class, who are studying Italian with me. They are an awesome group, and I must admit that I am youngest of them, so I am the “Little” one of the group. That’s fine with me, because they do not mind helping me pay for gelato! I just put a sad face on, and say: “aw…I don’t have enough euros on me,” and bingo, a free gelato for the “Little” one. Works every time!

I hope to travel to Siena, Perugia, and the beach in the next couple of weekends. Until then, I will just continue to enjoy the wonderful sights here in Assisi. The city is on a mountainside, so one thing that I am adjusting to is walking up and down all the time. I enjoy not having to deal with a vehicle, but walking up two hundred some steps (one way) in the hot afternoon is not my idea of an alternative! That’s okay, though. I am getting used to it, and it will only make my body stronger for the return to the big city of Roma. My room is in the highest part of the city, and as you see below, I have the best view in the whole building.

Yes, it was a random pick, and I got the golden ticket! The picture is nothing like the real thing, let me tell you. It is incredible to wake up looking out on the countryside of Umbria, and hearing the hustle of an ancient town just waking from sleep. There are a lot of dogs, cats, chickens, pigeons, and other birds around, so there is a lot to hear at the dawn, too. (My room is high up enough not to be disturbed by the noises, though.) I hope also to be able to hike up to the summit of the mountain nearby, so that I can take some amazing pictures of Assisi. We’ll see. It is a big mountain (I think 2000 meters). There is a lot to do, clearly. I have mainly been focusing on the Italian, though; but as opportunities arise I will take advantage of them, and I will let you know what happens then!

So, I will make sure to pray for you all, and thanks for yours! I will often think of you, especially as I watch the Italians live out their lives here. There are a lot of tourists, but there are also locals living here. It has been great experiencing people living in a town like this. They do not need “new” or “big” things, they have old, small houses. They take care of what they have, and they celebrate and share their lives with one another; I noticed that right away. It is ironic that the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen are in the middle of Assisi. It is not the size, but how one loves and cultivates what they have. The locals have figured that out, and I am glad for them. They have God, family, and friends, and the love to bring those together. God bless you, and I will post whenever I can! Promise!

Ciao, Americani! Pace e bene!

The Vatican