Seventh Adventure: Assisi

9 Jan

Your friend takes the boys, and even offers to watch them overnight so you are all able to get more sleep before your early morning trip with the chapel to Assisi.  You get so much sleep, in fact, that you sleep through your alarm and wake up at 5:35 – 25 minutes before you are expected to be on base at the bus.  Thankfully you are nearly completely prepared for the trip ahead of time, and darned if your visit to Assisi requires Nicole or you to shower or her to put on makeup.  You make sure you are at least clothed and camera’d, and head out the door to perfectly catch the bus.

The drive is over 3 hours, and since it is dark out in the beginning you are able to catch a little cat nap.  You awaken to some beautiful snow-covered mountains and, being childless for the day, you are able to have an Actual Adult Conversation with Nicole about the geology and favorite courses you took in college and other Grown-Up Topics that don’t involve the words “potty” or “Mickey Mouse” or “super Ninja fighting”.  You pass over bridges that look straight out of The Polar Express, and awe at the lovely small farms and towns.

In Assisi you have a couple hours of lunch and free time before reconvening at the Basilica di San Francesco.  You and Nicole admire the stone buildings and streets, shop for St. Francis trinkets in the little souvenir stores, listen to the beautiful church bells, and eat a couple panini.  The walk to the basilica is nearly all downhill, which is very nice for your now 7-months pregnant wife, but the streets are slim and the cars drive fast!  Every so often there is an alleyway draping in hanging vines and surrounded by lush flowers.  St. Francis began the tradition of Nativity scenes, so the town is sprinkled with all sorts of them, of every size.  The  church yard is filled with a large one, complete with many animal and human visitors to the baby Jesus’s manger.  This is dwarfed by the gigantic basilica, though.

A local tour guide gives you a nice background on St. Francis, the son of a wealthy merchant who abandoned his inheritance to pursue the Lord.  He then takes you into the church and lets you explore the upstairs and the tomb area downstairs.  The main sanctuary is fairly similar to others in Italy – very tall ceilings, beautiful artwork on the walls & alcoves, and even some lovely stained glass windows.  But the really astounding art is downstairs.  The centuries-old frescoes on the walls surrounding the tomb are paintings of The Last Judgment, and the reality of some souls being dragged to Hell by demons while others are carried to Glory by angels is a little too emotionally intense for words.  You and Nicole drop a few Euro in the slots of the fancier electric candle machines and two prayer “candles” immediately light up.  The tomb itself is behind an iron cage and is relatively uninspiring except that you know a great man lies there.

After touring the basilica, you head back to the tour bus – this time uphill and more tired than before.  Some older women opt for a taxi ride the mile or so, but you are feeling just fine.  Nicole, on the other hand, is a little cranky and achy.  To save yourself some whining time, you run ahead to buy rosemary bread and chocolate candies for your wife.  This gives her just enough energy to make it back to the bus.  The ride home is peaceful and relaxing, and you are eager to see your boys after a full day gone from them.  It is always nice to get away once in a while, but it’s a good reminder how much you love them when you realize you’re missing them so quickly.

Your mother-in-law Lexy is arriving in just a couple days, which will be spent with various friends for outings and Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Since the 26th is your birthday, you decide you would like to go to a local small-version Disneyland theme park called Gardaland for your birthday.  Unfortunately you buy the tickets a day late since the online ticket system isn’t working, and you have to go on the 27th instead.  Then, also unfortunately, you find out you have to work 24-hour staff duty on the 27th.  Then, most unfortunately, Kirby comes down with some dreadful sickness on Christmas night and can’t shake his fever and won’t eat anything or participate in anything.  You have many options: pay again and go on your actual birthday, try to work something out with the theme park and go on your actual birthday, trade staff duty days with someone else and go on the 27th, or stay home with your sick child.  You narrow it down to trading days so you can go on the 27th, and somehow going on your birthday.  Continue reading if you choose to try to trade work days, or go to Eighth Adventure: Gardaland if you go on your birthday.

You start to find someone who might trade you staff duties, but just as you are searching, Nicole calls you and says she was able to get the theme park to let you in on your birthday anyway.  You still debate a bit about possibly leaving Kirby with Lexy or taking him, but you decide to take the whole family anyway.  Now go to Eighth Adventure: Gardaland to read all about your fantastic birthday.

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