As great as it is to be in Rome and as many cool ancient Catholic stuff there is here, Rome is still a big city, and for those of us who aren’t city people (and even some who are) the dirt and sweat and crowds start to get to you after a while.
Last weekend, Fr. Justin, one of our chaplains at Bernardi, took our whole group on a day trip to Perugia for their annual chocolate festival and then to Assisi. It was wonderful to get out of the city and experience Italy outside of Rome.
The view in Perugia was stunning, so of course we had to stop and enjoy it for a while before heading to the chocolate festival
The only thing I had heard about the chocolate festival was that there was a lot of chocolate involved, which certainly turned out to be true. The streets were filled with tents selling chocolate in any and all forms.
Chocolate with nuts…
Chocolate with creamy layers of delicious…
So much chocolate! They even had “hot chocolate,” which in Italy means basically just melted chocolate.
Lizzy enjoying her nutella crepe
Once we were sufficiently filled with chocolate, we sat down on the edge of town to enjoy the view.
Mary Conway on the mini-metro from Perugia back to our bus.
Fr. Justin gave us a tour of Assisi, full of all things Fransiscan. Unfortunately the chruches in Assisi are very camera shy (NO FOTO!) so I don’t have pictures inside any of the churches, but we got to visit the tombs of St. Francis and St. Clare in their Basilicas, the convent where St. Clare died, and the cross which came alive to St. Francis telling him to rebuild the church.
Basilica di San Francesco
Here is Father Justin being the best tour guide every. He is pointing out the parish church St. Francis attended as a child.
It was a real burden having to walk down this incredibly picturesque path through an olive orchard with the countryside spread out before us, but we bore it well.
This is the courtyard in San Damiano, the convent of St. Clare where she died. Fr. Justin celebrated mass for us in one of the chapels here to conclude our day.
Most of the group returned to Bernardi that evening, but some of us took the opportunity to stay in Assisi
The view from our hostel
The Junkers, who were also staying in Assisi that night, invited us to have dinner with them. Every semester, a Catholic Studies professor and their family came to Rome to live in Bernardi with the students. This semester we have Dr. Junker, his wife Therese, and their three adorable children. They are a wonderful family, and it is so great to have kids in the house.
The next morning these three hooligans went off to climb a mountain while I found a peaceful place to work on homework.
Altogether not a bad place to write a paper.
Stacy Lona chilling out in Assisi’s main Piazza
We also visited San Rufino, where Francis and Clare were baptized, and stumbled upon a choir recording a musical about the life of St. Francis.
At San Rufino we discovered a room with a whole series of frescoes of John Paul II, by Giuseppe Afrune
Just one of the seventeen gorgeous frescoes
That night as we watched the sun set over the Basilica of San Francesco I realized I am basically in love with this place. Was I ready to return to Rome the next day? Not really, but it was a great experience, and maybe I’ll get to go back someday.