Our path has finally brought us to Rome. We were actually planning to arrive this past weekend, but we changed our plans and spent two extra days in Assisi after seeing what a great hotel room we had (Assisi was beautiful, too, but more on that in a minute). It was so great that it made up for having severely limited food options for four days. We had lukewarm pizza from the little stand-n'-eat shops and that was about it; it was fun to listen to each other's stomachs growling all night. There's just not much in the town. Of course, we did miss a few decent places by making refuge from the elements our greatest goal. The wind was raging for the whole first day - so much so that on the second day, my ears were hurting and I had to suffer Mary Jane's laughter at me in wrapping my scarf up to my eyes. Luckily, there was a warm cafe right around the corner from our hotel; they got to know us pretty well over our stay.
All that said, Assisi is as everyone says: peaceful, gentle, and spiritually uplifting. Faded frescoes from the life of St. Francis adorn even the outer stone walls; Franciscan monks and little nuns pepper street corners and churches. One of the mornings, we got up for the early prayers of the monks at the basilica of St. Francis; considered one of the finest churches in Europe, it houses the tomb and major relics - such as a hair shirt - of the saint. (I realize that the last sentence sounds like it's straight out of a travel guide book. Don't ask me where that came from.) I wanted to take the 90 minute hike to his hermitage on top of the mountain outside the town, but considering the blustery weather, it's probably best that I didn't. Unless I wanted to just become a hermit somewhere along the way myself. Anyway, the monks and nuns truly do exude a joy that none can fail to be drawn by. You get the feeling that St. Francis is watching over his little brood with the same exuberant fondness he must have had on earth.
We took the train to Rome this afternoon, so here we are, with about ten days ahead of us to run around and soak it all in. We've only seen the train station and the few streets to our hotel, which is really an apartment masquerading as a hotel room, but we had no need to look farther than the full-scale grocery store in the station before realizing that Rome can only be wonderful. We love the breaks in the quiet towns, but it's always exhilarating to get back into a big city where the days are chock-full of sights and your stomach can look forward to something more than pizza.