Italian Pilgrimage


Page 6 - Monday, November 6, 2000  

Monday, we were able to sleep in to 6:30.  Today, we will briefly look around Assisi before boarding the bus to Siena.  We will tour Siena and then go to Florence.  Visiting Siena will be special to members of the group.  Our parish community is is named St. Catherine of Siena.  First though, we need to pack, place our luggage outside our door and go have breakfast.  Breakfast is hard rolls, pastry, ham, cheese, cereal, milk, coffee, tea, juice.  After breakfast we go to St. Francis's Basilica for morning mass.  After mass we again toured various aspects of the Basilica including the gift shop.  We also had some free time to look around Assisi and shop.  Pat bought linen table napkins at a small shop.  We looked through several shops, but to soon we needed to be back at the hotel to meet with the group and to have mama Rita shepherd us to the bus.  Siena is less than 90 minutes from Assisi.  By the time we get to Siena, it is raining.  It rained for the first 90 minutes.  We got off the bus and walked at least a mile (it seemed like a mile) to our first stop which was a church.  We would not have stopped at the church except that several members needed a technical (bathroom) stop.  While they went to the bathroom, the rest of us entered the church to get out of the rain.  In this church are 2 sacred relics of St. Catherine, her head and a finger.  We toured the church.  After everyone had finished with their technical stop and we had checked out the gift shop in the church, we went to the city square, walking in the rain.  Thank goodness most of us had umbrellas.  Those who had forgotten their umbrella were fortunate in that several of us shared our umbrellas.  We walked through the narrow medieval city streets (dodging cars, bikes and motorcycles) to the city square.  This square is famous because it is not square.  Rather, it is in the shape of a sea shell.  It is also famous for a horse race that has been held at least once every year on the square since the Middle Ages. Each district in the city sponsors a horse.  The winner has bragging rights until the next race.  By the time we got to the square, the rain had almost stopped.  It was now lunch time.  Mama Rita put us on our own for lunch.  Pat and I went to a cafeteria style place that mama Rita recommended.  We each got a different kind of pasta and then shared with each other.  It was good.  After lunch we had some time for shopping before we needed to meet for the formal tour.  We went through a couple of gift shops and a wine shop.  We bought a bottle of wine.  They allowed tasting of various wines in this shop.  So we tasted some grapa.  It was a strong tasting white wine.  We walked up and down some narrow medieval city streets (dodging cars, bikes and motorcycles) window shopping.  We did not buy anything.  It was now time for the formal tour of Siena.  We went to the meeting place where mama Rita introduced us to our local guide. We tour the Cathedral in Siena and the house where St. Catherine was born and raised.  This home is now a church.  We ended up at the first church where we got a formal tour.  It then was time to go to the bus for the drive to Florence.  When we got to Florence, we checked into the hotel (Hotel Raffaello).  We got our room keys, went to the room to freshen up and then to dinner.  Dinner was pasta, salad, vegetable, unknown meat (chicken/turkey/veal/pork???) and dessert.  And some wine.  It was then time for bed.


Now for the days pictures.  Please click on any of the thumbnails below to view a larger version of the picture.


The first picture below was taken in the parlor of the Subasio Hotel.  The next five pictures below were taken off of a balcony outside the parlor.  

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The 6 pictures below were taken on our way to morning mass.  I and mama Rita are in the 2nd picture.  The first picture is of Pat, with the Basilica in the background.  The 5th picture is of the side of our hotel where we stayed the previous night.  The last picture is of the doors into St. Francis's Basilica.  We were not allowed to take any pictures inside the Basilica.

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After the morning mass, we had time to sight see and shop in Assisi.  These are various street scenes with the last 3 pictures being taken on our way to the bus.  I could easily have spent more time in Assisi.

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We now enter Siena and the rain.

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The 3 pictures below were taken in the church that holds the 2 sacred relics of St. Catherine.  Her head is visible in the 1st picture.

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The 6 pictures below were taken of or on the square.  In the last picture, we are waiting to begin the formal part of our tour in Siena.

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The 5 pictures below are of various street scenes in Siena.  Pat can be seen in 2 of them.

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The first picture below was taken on the way to the cathedral.  The other 3 pictures are of the cathedral.  The local guide explained to us that this Cathedral is an unfinished piece of work.  Siena had plans to make it the largest Cathedral in the world.  And then the plague (the black death) came.  By the time the plague left, Siena was no longer the rich city it had been and its importance in commerce had been greatly decreased.  We toured the Cathedral.  We prayed as a group in this Cathedral.  After this, we left the Cathedral to go to St. Catherine's birthplace/house.  As we were walking to St. Catherine's house, I realized I had left some items in the Cathedral.  I ran back to get them and they were where I had left them.  Hurrying back to find the group, I found members of the group placed strategically, acting as bread crumbs so I was able to easily find and rejoin the group.

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These next 2 pictures are of St. Catherine's birthplace/house.  This is where she lived as a child.  It is now a shrine and a church.

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A view of the skyline of Siena, dominated by the Cathedral.

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I could have spent more time in Siena.


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