We had huge winds last night here in Assisi. Sounded like the hotel was going to blow over. There must have been a shutter not secured somewhere because for four hours all you could hear was this huge banging noise like someone hitting a hammer against the hotel roof.
I was sufficiently disoriented by lack of sleep to forget there was a solid glass door between me and our bedroom window shutters. I was a shock to walk into it at 6.30am this morning when I peered out to see what sort of day it was. Fortunately I have a tough head. We visited a number of churches today. The first church we saw was the cathedral of San Ruffino. Saw the baptismal font in which Francis and Clare were baptised as infants, not at the same time! St Francis church was by far the largest. Impressive architecturally with frescoes by Giotto and Francis bones in the crypt downstairs. However, very disappointing. There were hundreds of people there, so lots of pushing and shoving and noise. We left wondering what St Francis would have made of his veneration and the amount of money spent
. We also visited the Church of St Clare. Smaller but contains the crucifix which Francis heard speak to him, which was a turning point in his life, 'Repair my church, which as you can see has fallen into disrepair.' It was awesome to sit there and ponder what it must have been like for St Francis to hear the Lord speak to him directly. However, the church that we were most deeply impacted by was that of St Stephano (Stephen). It is a simple building, unadorned except for two frescoes which are faded through age and is one of the most ancient in Assisi. It is a spiritually powerful place which has a tangible stillness and presence. We both felt a far greater sense of the spirit of St Francis here than in any of the other churches, but had the feeling that far fewer people visited it. On the way spent time in a pottery shop that sells high quality work. The guy who runs the shop with his sister was very helpful and told us lots about Assisi and where to go. We bought a lovely Olive Oil pouring jar. We also dropped in on a studio with some unusual artwork. The artist was acftually sitting there chatting to the owner of the gallery. His name is Massimo Cruciani and he has painted a wide variety of scenes from both present and past. I fell in love a painting of acrylic on glass of Francis on his knees with his arms raised in worship and the birds hovering in the sky above him. So my darling wife bought it for my birthday. You can see a picture of it at http://www.cruciani.com/main.html
He was a lovely man and was so happy we had bought one of his paintings he gave a us a DVD about his work and Assisi. A great Website to check out Assisi is http://www.assisispace.com