My class, titled ‘Mystics, Philosophers, Saints and Sinners’ and taught by professor Lori King was an incredible experience. I was given the chance to re-learn and discover incredible parts of Catholicism, learn about saints and mystics, and visit several Basilicas and monasteries in Rome. We even took a day trip to Assisi, where my professor lived and where St. Francis (whom Pope Francis named himself after) lived long ago. Basically, he was a really cool guy who believed in being one with God through personal discipline and giving back to the poor and the community in general.
So this is how our day went…
We woke up pretty early to arrive at our school center at 7:30am on a Friday. Once we were all there we drove off for 2 hours to Assisi, a town on a rock. Arriving, it began to snow to my surprise and it was chillier than Rome but a nice change. And as is customary for Italians, we stopped by a bar to grab some coffee. I got a soy milk hot chocolate and others did the same to warm up our hands and fill our tummies with something warm and inviting.
Then we headed off on our adventure going to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the Basilica of Santa Chiara, the Rocca Maggiore, the Temple of Minerva, and the Piazza del Comune. We saw beautiful frescos that told incredible stories, colorful mosaics, a merry-go-round, and a class from Ireland. We even hiked for a bit in the thin-wooded and calm forest. It was quite exciting to see live what we’d been learning about in class and to be able to figure out answers to questions I had about St. Francis and others who passed through the town. Mainly, I was taken aback by his will and genuine goodness.
At some point during the day, we stopped to grab some lunch at this amazing place near Rocca where we got a 3-course meal consisting of house-made pasta, bruschetta, and dessert. I even got some grilled veggies and hand fruit! All for 10 euros! We were able to rest our legs and chat about the experience before heading off to do some more exploring and learning for the rest of the day. I even found Italian fuzzy socks to take with me when we checked out some shops. If ever in Assisi, I would highly-recommend the wood home good items as they’re made with olive wood in the country and they’re really neat.
Our day ended with us taking a class picture by the Temple of Minerva and us heading back to the bus, exhausted from all the walking and heavy bellies from lunch that kept at least me from having dinner that night. Although a ways out of the way, I would never shy from a difficult journey to make it here, especially when you know it will be a good time.