The morning dawned clear and we got a good look at the view across the valley below San Marina before boarding the bus after breakfast. Another hill town today, the second largest pilgrimage center after Rome, Assisi, where the medieval monk, St. Francis, was born. After awhile the hill towns look pretty similar. Mostly we were there in the mornings before it got too crowded so they were quiet and peaceful. Some had great views over the valleys and some didn’t, depending on how the centre of town was situated.
Assisi was nice with more narrow streets and lots of shops featuring Assisi-type needlework. The basilica is actually two churches, one built on top of the other. The old church has wonderful artwork inside on every surface with low ceilings and lots of arches! The tomb of St. Francis beneath the old church was quiet, small and filled with fresh lilies and was very moving. The frescos by Giotto in the upper church are or were brightly coloured but are now quite damaged and worn though pictures don’t show it. The gift shop is run by monks who wear the brown robes and everything! Denise bought some religious medals and books and I picked up some more postcards.
The hotel was in a town below Assisi and we were not very impressed at all. It was cold in the rooms, the thermostats in the rooms were locked and complaints didn’t do anything to help matters except produce an extra blanket each. The beds were really hard and lumpy! Worst beds we slept on by far! Overall most of the tourist class hotels we had in Italy were ok. Nothing special. Denise wasn’t impressed as she is used to travelling for business in first class hotels or in quaint Bed and Breakfast Inns. I knew the tour company, Cosmos, was the budget version of the first class company, Globus and we wouldn’t be getting fancy hotels but the ones in the UK on my last tour were usually nicer than most of the ones in Italy so although I didn’t expect much, I did expect more that what we had. Yes, I know I keep comparing the two tours but you would, wouldn’t you’ Compare hotels, restaurants, guides, etc. with previous experiences whether it was an escorted tour or independent travel’