Day 5: Assisi

Sunday, the day of rest, and has not been that one bit, for good and bad I guess. I've enjoyed a ton today, yet I'm exhausted and its barely 5. It's crazy what you can pack into a day.

       An English Catholic Mass was the start for our day here today. Getting to walk around all of Assisi to get there and to end up at the Basilica that St. Francis is Buried in, was such an incredible experience. I don't know what it was, or what made the mass that way, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It may have been the art, and the more I look at it I definitely think it had something to do with the art of that Basilica. Walking up to the place, it simply looked like late Gothic Basilica, but entering it caught my breathe with the ancient art. Pieces by Giotto filling every inche of the wall, was such a inspiring experience.
      There are those who may argue art shouldn't be in the church, or it is a distraction, or it is an idol...and to you I say you deprived minds, and how blind you must be? The art was functional. It was a story teller, and it was moving, and don't think renaissance, this is gothic, pre renaissance. So beautiful. It definitely led me to prayer. It was cool to see even in such a tradition rich thing like mass could still be enriching.

      From there the day got more impactful, both on my feet and my mind. Mainly because we had to hike a mountain, roughly 2 miles up to the monastery of St. Francis. Not one started after him, but the one he was a part of. Its incredible to think that these people walked that hike every day, everyday, to interact with the people first of all, and secondly it was incredible to see how beautiful it was up there. The monastery was positioned between of the wooded mountains, and the view was spectacular. Looking out let you see the two mountains of trees and the valley between and the farmlands and city was below, and looking back revealed more of the mountain in front of where the sun will set tonight. By that alone the place was a fantastic place to visit, and explore the trails in the ravine and up around the huts, grottos, and hills.
       The part that I did all I could to let it sink it was that I was walking, exploring, sitting, kneeling, crawling, existing in all the same areas that St. Francis of Assisi did. I saw the place where he'd pray everyday, and I got to see the altar of St. Francis among all the marks and signs of the faith scattered around the sight. It was a point so beneficial for reflection and for perspective. To see and get a small window on the life of one of the most famous Christians post the early centuries. I wanted to spend all day there, and just pray, and I should have.
      Although I definitely soaked in a ton while up there, I still feel like I'm not truly living the moments, or finding God's moments of peace and awe. Assisi has helped a ton, and seeing the monastery definitely was an unforgettable experience.  I was just thinking though that one thing that make this so hard to get the right mind set about is that everything becomes a tourist sight... I don't know if that's wrong or not, but maybe its a distraction to me. I see sights and places, not experiences and history as much as I am trying to. We'll see what happens over the rest of this trip.

Oh, and my one complaint, and word of warning to those travelling in Italy. They don't break large bills, or at in majority they don't. They also get this offended look when you try and have them break it. Which means having the right change, and that has proved next to impossible when you use ATM's....sort of a ironic thing, so I'm trying not to hold it against them, but its interesting noticing that they won't take a large bill to break it when you can do that anywhere in American and they can't refuse service simply because you don't have the bill they want. So, the next challenge ahead, break my bill so I can buy things, like food...