June 14, 2011

Rome to Assisi (Day 4, 13 June)

It’s been a long, long day….

Started out with a visit to the Vatican in the morning before departing for Assisi in the Umbria region, with a pit-stop for lunch in between.

We had to wake up super early and ensure our bags were outside our room by 6.30am. By 7.30am we had breakfasted and were on our way to the Vatican. Am glad we had a guided tour because it meant we didn’t have to wait in line and could bypass the queues.

It was extremely crowded since everything was closed yesterday and there was a tsunami of tourists waiting to get in. We had the same guide as yesterday, Emilia, and she took us through the major highlights.

Before we commenced the museum tour, we had a loo break and I asked her where was the nice spiral staircase I had seen pictures of. Luckily for me, it was right in front of our loo and I could take a few shots.

The museum is massive and it was impossible to take in everything in one visit, we had only 3 hours to pack as much in, including St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Square.

No pictures were allowed in the Sistine Chapel, which was not quite how I imagined it to look like. Always imagined the painting of ‘The Creation’ to occupy a whole dome but it was part of a larger roof with many other paintings. Almost couldn’t spot it, a bit anti-climatic. I tried to sneak a photo on my phone, this is what I got.

Mummy is going gaga over all the ornate ceilings, tapestries and frescoes, she’s amazed by all the churches we’ve seen. They have been pretty impressive and none more so that St Peter’s Basilica. It’s the biggest church in the world I think and grand is an understatement. .

Thankfully pictures were allowed here but they don’t do it justice. What look like paintings are actually mosaics. Emilia pointed out the emotive Pieta, a sculpture by Michaelangelo.

Ma has been cam-whoring, asking me to take pictures of her with this, that and the other. Somehow I feel like Nick! If this holiday had been me and him, I would be doing exactly what Ma is doing and he would be ‘sian’! She’s always taking horrid shots of me, either I’m in the shadows or she chops off my body or she places me smack in the centre, so I minimise my requests for photos!

At about 11.30am, we departed for Assisi, stopping for a quick bite an hour into the ride. We reached Assisi at about 2plus and stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels. There was a street named Via Los Angeles, guess that’s how LA got its name! Likewise, San Francisco was derived from St Francis of Assisi, who started the Franciscan order.

The church was another grand one, again no pictures were allowed inside it. It is the place were St Francis died and there is a memorial on the spot where he passed on. He loved animals and there was a sculpture of him where apparently doves hang out all the time in the palm of his hands.

From there it was a short drive up Mt Subiaso, home of St Francis and where his relics are stored in the Basilica. We checked into Hotel Giotto first then met another local guide who explained this was a two-tiered church. They were both equally spectacular, again, no photos allowed, bugger.

After the visit, we had some free time and wandered along the streets briefly before freshening up for dinner. We ate at the hotel, there was a lovely view of Perugian hills and we shared with an English couple who live in Canada, Jim and Julie, as well as American mother/daughter pair Shirley and Holly, with their friend Judy.

Had to correct a lot of misconceptions about Singapore, such as whether KL was our capital and when I mentioned independence, they thought it was from China! They were impressed by my English (!!!!) and asked if all the Chinese we had were Cantonese. Go figure! They even wondered how we booked an Insight tour, because they noticed we were the only Asians and they didn’t think it was available in Asia.

Jim and Julie have appointed me their caretaker, they seem to be a bit forgetful. They missed the first day of the tour after misplacing their passports after check-in, and had to take a later flight, when the passports were in Julie’s bag all the time!

Apparently 5 different people checked the bag and couldn’t find them! After dinner, Julie also walked off without her purse, which I returned and thereafter she volunteered me to keep a watch on them!

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