This past weekend I went on my first trip outside of Siena, to Perugia and Assisi! For the geographically challenged (like myself), here is a little map of Italy.
See Siena in the middle-ish? Directly to the right you'll find Perugia and Assisi sandwiched right next to each other all cosy-like, in the region of Umbria.
12 out of us 13 CET students (Kyle was visiting a friend in Florence) decided to take a little weekend jaunt to explore the two cities. So, on Saturday morning bright and early, I stepped onto my first vehicular transportation since arriving in Siena, and endured four hours of travel to Perugia. Once at the Perugia train stop, being the intelligent college students that we are, we decided to eschew the difficult task of finding a bus to take us into the city center, and instead decided to walk to our hostel. This doesn't sound like a very daunting task, but we quickly realized that Perugia is at the top of a mountain! Ok, maybe not a mountain, but it is an extremely large, steep hill! Here's an idea of the incline we were up against.
However, 45 minutes later, we found ourselves at the top, and were rewarded for our labours with this view.
Definitely worth it.
As we attempted to find our hostel, we found ourselves enveloped by a group of American students on a tour of the city, and the tour guide, history professor Zach, asked us to join in. Naturally, we said yes. Zach gave us his free, "no facts" tour, and we learned such things as the fact that Perugia has the proud distinction of owning the 3rd ugliest cathedral in Europe.
I'm going to have to say that yes, it is one of the ugliest cathedrals I have ever seen. Almost like an enormous stone barn.
Here's a totes gorge (yes I did just abbreviate totally gorgeous as totes gorge) view of Perugia extending into the Umbrian countryside.
After a night of delicious food and a very clean hostel, we were off to Assisi! I do believe I enjoyed Assisi more than Perugia, simply because it is one of the more charming towns I have ever had the pleasure to visit. Plus, um, St. Francis hails from Assisi, and thus Assisi has San Francesco.
Boom. How do Assisians (Assisites? Assisinians?) handle so much beauty staring them in the face every day? Pictures were not allowed inside the basilica, but I can tell you that the walls were lined with frescoes depicting St. Francis' life, that the ceilings were covered in one of the most beautiful azure colors I have ever seen, and that the whole place resounded with mystical loveliness.
On that note, it is highly possible that Italy may give me a new appreciation for the country. I have never seen such a lovely countryside before, and after spending all of my time sandwiched between stone houses and stone streets, with only a sliver of sky above me, I want to explore the country more. How could you not, when the country looks like this?