Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 18

Friday the 20th of January
A very clean getaway this morning, the tiredness has been accumulating over the weeks, and everyone has been getting slower and slower in the morning. So today a supreme effort was made and we were away by 8:30. Last night we had a lot of tired people eating a dinner of Lasagne (pasta, of course, we are in Italy!) burgers and chips.

Our happy cooks
The first port of call today was Vinci, another small but very pretty Tuscan village. (Aren’t they all!) However this one’s claim to fame is it happens to be the birth place of Leonardo Da Vinci.

The village of Vinci
While we were going to visit the museum of Leonardo Da Vinci we discovered a statue of the Vitruvian Man, Leonardo’s great study of the ratios and proportions of the human body. So we decided to see if we could do it too!!

The Vitruvian Dylan and Mingi…I wonder if Leonardo thought of this? (or was it in a nightmare) Do Do Do Do… Do Do Do Do  we are entering the twilight zone…oops my imagination is getting the better of me, I had better get back on track!
The museum is in 2 parts, the first dealt with the machines that he built as well as some of the general machines from the middle ages, while the second only had designs and ideas by Leonardo.  

Some models of the machines

A model of one of Leonardo’s 3D designs
The second building also had an observation platform from which we could see the countryside. There was also a tower from which you could see far and wide across Tuscany.

The view from the platform

the village and the countryside

Some of the group at the top of the tower

We saw this sign at the bottom…. Is that an M or double T?
After we left the village we headed up a VERY thin and windy road (in the tour bus) to find an isolated country home that is currently undergoing restoration. This was the birth place of Leonardo.

A roadside shrine with his house behind.

Here it is nestled in the brambles and general shrubbery. (A quick nod to Monty Python)

Some of the group after the overland trek which culminated in the first circumnavigation of the Da Vinci birth place by St Paul’s. The expedition was long and hazardous. No food was found during the journey as the olive trees were bare, so we did consider eating one of the group but fortunately we found civilisation in the nick of time. We won’t say who was on the menu but one of the boys discovered his pockets were stuffed with Rosemary!
We have arrived at the hill town of Assisi. Here there is only two directions, up and down. It is VERY steep but the views you see and the ambiance of this magnificent town is well worth the hard work of walking. However some discovered that a taxi is the way to go and others the bus was the way to go. There are some magical places in Assisi.
Cheers Jim S

 I have been to Assisi several times and never for long enough. It is such a beautifully peaceful place that has a spirit of its own. It is the city of Saint Francis, the saint of universal brotherhood and of love for all creatures. Saint Francis is the saint who, more than any other, lived the Gospel in the fullest way possible by becoming ‘a living image of Christ crucified’. Francis’ search for peace is proverbial and characteristic of his whole life. He demonstrated enormous courage and a great capacity to connect with people of any race, class, religion and culture.
Assisi is filled by the spiritual presence of Saint Francis. Obviously, not all tourists actually come here for this reason; many come simply to admire the works of art that the Saint’s spirituality has inspired. Nevertheless, from the beauty of the churches here, and the masterpieces they contain, these people draw something of the climate of peace that pervades this town.
The town of Assisi itself is perched high on a hilltop, another medieval city situated in the countryside region of Umbria. The streets are paved with cobble stones, very narrow and largely steeply inclined.  That’s why we were all a little concerned when we arrived here and there was no one to collect our luggage. The hotel here is lovely and we have some superb views from our rooms. Some of the rooms also have baths….pity I didn’t bring my bubble bath and candles!!! Many of us are also sharing a double bed with members of the same sex…well, sometimes accommodation allocations are out of our control.

Meanwhile, a small group engaged a taxi driver/guide and went to the nearby town on the plain to Santa Maria degli Angeli – a large church built over the original tiny church that St Francis of Assisi first built in the midst of a forest. This is where, to this very day, two white turtle doves nestle in a basket held by the statue of St Francis – one male bird and his female companion. They invariably produce two offspring which are always a matching couple and when the young ones are fully grown, the older couple  fly away and the young birds take over nestling in St Francis’ basket.  

Assisi is a very small city, but well worth a visit.

Our arrival proved a little chaotic, as there was no one to collect our luggage.

 Unfortunately, this photo doesn't entirely capture the serenity and simplicity of this beautiful church a few of us stumbled across whilst strolling about the town. We entered the church of Santa Maggiore as mass was about to begin (on the left hand side of this photo). It was around 5.30pm and only a handful of people were present, but the singing was superb.
 Looking across the countryside

 Assisi by day and by night

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