If there's one thing I noticed about Florence, it's that it is definitely not lacking on beauty. From the fashion, to the art, to the people, to the cars, to the street decor, everything was so beautiful. Our first day in Italy was spent in Florence with the kindest, most generous family I've ever met. They took us all around Florence, treated us to gelato, bought us wine, and took us to an incredible restaurant where we had the best pasta I have ever tasted. Florence was beauty in so many ways.
The next morning we woke up and caught a train to Assisi. I can't even begin to describe how much I loved Assisi. When you imagine Italy, you imagine these cute, adorable little towns with windy streets and cobblestoned sidewalks. Assisi is exactly what you imagine.
Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend reading Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron. It's about this megachurch pastor who has a crisis of faith and goes on a pilgrimage in Italy, following the life of St. Francis. To be honest, I was never really interested in Italy before reading Chasing Francis. It has never really appealed to me. While everyone else here in the US romanticizes Italy, I romanticize London, and Scotland, and Sweden, and Amsterdam. But then I read Chasing Francis and knew I would visit Assisi one day. It turns out I would visit just a few months later.
The first thing we did was head straight to St. Francis' Basilica. We wandered the church for hours, trying to absorb all of the beauty and history. If there's one thing Italy does well, it's beautiful art and history. I wish I could find words to describe the feelings I felt in the church, but truthfully you just need to go experience it for yourself. There's nothing quite like it.
After a while we wandered outside to this terrace overlooking a courtyard. It had started raining. The rain, for some reason, is my absolute favorite. It softens things; it makes the world less harsh. I took a moment for myself and walked to the railing of the terrace, feeling so at peace from wandering the church in silence for hours and feeling the fresh rain on my face. I wouldn't really describe myself as a peaceful person. Quite the opposite actually, but in this moment, God reminded me that peace is possible. He told me to hold on to peace. He said, "Don't forget the rain, Sarah. Don't forget this moment."