Day 13 - On to Assisi & Wine Country
We boarded the bus for the hill town of Assisi where in a time of immense church wealth, Saint Francis inspired spirituality through humility and the beauty of nature in Umbria. This is where the Franciscan movement began. We walked with Donald and visited the tomb of Saint Clare and toured the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels. Inside, we discovered a tiny chapel called the Portiuncula, the church of Saint Francis. Next, we visited an older part of Assisi and walked past The Roman Forum and Archaeological Museum which dates back to the first century BC. Enjoyed a lovely lunch at an outdoor cafe on our own then rejoined the group for a tour with local guide, Giuseppe. We learned about the life of Saint Francis and toured the 800 year old and beautifully frescoed Basilica of Saint Francis. In the church beneath, we saw the oldest stained glass windows in Italy. Aboard the bus, we wound our way across Umbria to our “agriturismo destination”… a country hotel which is also a working family winery called Altarocca Wine Resort. We were assigned a lovely one bedroom apartment with a veranda overlooking gorgeous and expansive views of the countryside and vineyards below. Our stay began with a wine tasting hosted by a knowledgeable wine maker which included some delicious appetizers. We walked down a long pathway to the hotel restaurant where we shared a country-style dinner together as a group and drank local wine, of course!
Day 14 – Side trip to the village of Orvieto
After eating a healthy breakfast in the outdoor dining area of our hotel taking in views of distant towns, we boarded the bus for a day trip. It was a curvy and hilly ride to Orvieto which is perched high atop a flat cliff. The bus parked at the bottom and we rode several tall escalators to the top. Donald led us to a square in the center of town allowing us to explore on our own. We had lunch at an outdoor café then explored ancient Etruscan (pre-Rome) artifacts, some 3,000 years old, at a museum called Museo Caludio Faina & Museo Civico. Later, we re-grouped and toured the Duomo di Orvieto, considered one of the most beautiful churches in Italy. Inside the church, we saw the Chapel of San Brizio and were amazed by Signorelli’s frescoes. We returned to Altarocca, took a long walk around the picturesque grounds of the vineyard and enjoyed another country-style group dinner.