Monthly Archives: September 2018

We are off to Rome

Assisi is a hard city to leave. The vibrations at the St. Francis tomb are unbelievable. The city has energy of its own.

This morning we left for another medieval town called Spello. We walked along the ridge of a mountain full of olive orchards beside us and the beautiful Perugia valley below us. Here are some pictures from today’s journey.

Grateful and humbled

It has been a lovely journey getting to Assisi. I thank all of you for your kind words, comments, and support. We like your comments. It feels good to hear that our journey in some way has inspired and or entertained you.

We feel so blessed to be able to witness such beauty and holy vibrations of the beautiful nature all around us every day.

As we walked today, I vividly remembered 2009 when I was in Assisi for the first time. I had come to Italy to drop off my daughter Sitara as she was taking a gap year after high school. After I dropped her off in Florence, I went to Rome, and on my way back to Florence, I was planning to stop in Assisi for the day.

I missed my morning train to Assisi and had to take the afternoon train. I finally made it to Assisi late that afternoon and had an hour, at best, before my train back to Florence. So instead, on a whim, I thought I should stay in Assisi for the night.

I decided to follow the sign at the bus stop announcing Ostello (hostel). It led me out of town 1 to 2 kilometers before I found the hostel. I dumped my backpack and headed back to town. My first stop was the Basilica and the tomb of St. Francis. I sat quietly and promptly lost track of time. When I finally came out, it was late and dark, and I was hungry.

After a quick bite, I headed back toward the ostello, located in the middle of nowhere, in moonlight. I had no flashlight or headlamp. Fortunately, it was almost a full moon, and I was able to enjoy a nice walk in the mountains.

As I look back, I think that is what triggered this walk for me. At that time I was not aware of any Camino in Italy, but somewhere in the back in my mind, the idea must have germinated.

During that trip I made an oath to myself to bring Pat back with me to Italy and share 3 things.

  • Piazza San Marco in Venice to listen to the Italian tenors sing love songs.
  • Come back to Assisi
  • Hike the Cinque Terre.

All of these we were able to do in 2013 for our 25th wedding anniversary. But this trip was no where in my conscious mind. As I walked this morning, I realized that moonlight walk in 2009 was a precursor to this long hike.

We are here today and feel so blessed.

Now you can see why I feel humbled. God works in mysterious ways, and life unfolds magically in its own way.

For all the photograph lovers, here is today’s journey in pictures. We had two long climbs today. One leaving Valfabbrica and one climbing up to Assisi. It was cool when we left this morning.

Looking back at Valfabbrica after the climb.

We continued on through ups and downs and soon could see Assisi looming in front of us.

By the way, here is an example of wildflowers that I capture. The first picture is what it looks like to the naked eye. The next two are what I see and capture.

We are happy to be here in Assisi, ready to merge ourselves in the sights, sounds, and vibrations of this beautiful city.

Valfabbrica

We are in the last stop before Assisi. Today turned out to be a blustery day, or as Pooh would say, windsday (although today is actually Tuesday)! For the first time this trip we had our jackets on for most of the day. Seems like fall is in the air, but with global warming, who knows, just another crazy day.

Today also was more gradual down than up. We were walking along the edge of a mountain and traversing from one mountain to another.

We could see many trucks working down in the valley, as a dam is under construction. The topography map we had was showing a huge body of water, but the construction must have diverted most of it.

Last night there was another German couple, Heriburt and Hanna. We kept passing each other all day long today as we each took breaks at different times.

After two days of staying in the mountains, we were once more heading down to a city.

We were able to make it to the town just before the stores were closing for the afternoon. We enjoyed pizza today instead of our usual cheese and bread for lunch.

Another day in the neighborhood

There were one English couple, one Austrian couple (they were the only one arriving by car), a mother and daughter from Germany walking together, and an additional German lady walking by herself at the B&B. Our hostess cooked us a nice simple meal which we enjoyed while getting to know each other.

Our host and hostess for the night.

Today we had a short hike going up and down three mountain ranges. It was cloudy and breezy when we started our hike.

After a while, we saw the mother and daughter catching up to us.

An hour later we caught up to them as they were taking a break.

We continued to enjoy the quiet and beautiful landscape all around us.

We enjoyed our brief lunch by this church that was offered to St. Francis in the XIII century.

We are now settled in a agriturismo apartment awaiting our dinner at 7 (there are no other facilities around).

…and it came with a swimming pool!

Musings of a Mystic

On our day off we decided to go to the Basilica at the top of the Sacred Mount Ingino. Of course we could have walked it, but it was our day off. They had this funicular-like thing, somewhat like a tiny gondola, called funivia, so we decided to take it.

It was nice to climb, a mountain without any effort for once on this trip. We enjoyed a leisurely pace of the day.

Every year Gubbio has Ceri festival on 15th of May where 3 teams carry these 3 posts weighing 300 kg, each, from the town to the top of the mountain.

Today’s walk for the first 5 km was flat (first time since Florence that we had flat terrain). After that we began our gradual climb.

u

As we walked, I kept thinking over a few things I learned about St. Francis’s life. After he came back from his captivity, he had a vision to build a church. He took merchandise from his father’s business and sold it so that he could fund his project. His father was not too happy with his choice and took him to a bishop who ordered Francis to pay back his father.

This is when Francis renounced everything and decided to walk to Gubbio to visit his friend who was with him in prison. Once in Gubbio, he helped the lepers and began his life of simplicity and service.

It is amazing to observe how events will propel one’s life in a different direction. Francis choose a life of austerity, compassion and service.

Buddha also renounced his kingly life and lived a life of an ascetic. Although, Buddha eventually brought forth the concept of a middle path devoid of extremes.

There are many people and many paths in life. No single path is better than another. One thing I have learned is, there are no mistakes. We all must follow what path is right for us and allow everyone else to do the same. This is also a form of practicing love and compassion. The world would be so much sweeter and blissful if we all accepted our sameness as well as our differences.

The Wolf of Gubbio and St. Francis

This is another of the miracles associated with St. Francis and the town of Gubbio.

The towns people of Gubbio were terrorized and being eaten by a hungry wolf. Terrified of the wolf, they asked St. Francis what they should do. St. Francis found the wolf and lovingly reasoned with him. He told the wolf that he should not be eating the people, and that if the wolf would stop eating them, they would instead feed him.

The wolf agreed, and the people of Gubbio did feed the wolf. They fed the wolf for the rest of his life, and they were very sad when the wolf finally passed away. They gave the wolf a proper burial and then build a church over his grave!

Gubbio

Traces of prehistoric settlements have been found in Gubbio. Eugubine tablets from 3rd to 1st century B.C, prior to Romans, were found here. Nestled along the mountain, this town also was the first travel destination of St. Francis in 1206 after he renounced all earthly possessions.

As an ordinary citizen who was captured by the Perugia in the war of 1205 and was a prisoner for a year, Francis came out from his captivity a transformed man. He had developed compassion!

He made this 52 km journey from Assisi to Gubbio throughout his life many times on his way to La Verna.

The night before we got to Gubbio, we stayed at a B&B 12 km from Gubbio.

We began the walk to Gubbio early so we could enjoy this historic city.

We climbed down from the mountain into the beautiful valley below and walked along the valley floor until we could see the old city.

It is rare to see ancient cities like these now a days, and we are enjoying our rest day here and taking in the sights and sounds (especially the bells that chime every 15 minuets, including throughout the night).

Tomorrow we began our four-day journey to Assisi in the footsteps of St. Francis. We will walk along the same path that St. Francis took when he walked the other direction, from Assisi to Gubbio.

Here is a song composed by Assisi called “Canticle of the Sun”.

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,

and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,

especially through my lord Brother Sun,

who brings the day; and you give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!

Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon

and the stars, in heaven you formed them

clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,

and through the air, cloudy and serene,

and every kind of weather through which

You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,

which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

through whom you light the night and he is beautiful

and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,

who sustains us and governs us and who produces

varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,

through those who give pardon for Your love,

and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace

for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,

through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will

find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,

and give Him thanks

and serve Him with great humility