florence & assisi
If there's one thing I noticed about Florence, it's that it is definitely not lacking in beauty. From the fashion and the art, to the people, the cars, and the streets, 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 the city, treated us to gelato, wine, and the best pasta I have ever tasted. Florence was beauty in so many ways.
I highly recommend just wandering the streets of this beautiful city, especially if you've only got one day like we had. I'm sure there's so much to do and see here, but the truth of life in Florence lives in the streets.
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 I imagine Italy, I imagine these cute, adorable little towns with windy streets and cobblestone sidewalks. Assisi is exactly that.
Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend reading Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron. It's about a megachurch pastor who has a crisis of faith and goes on a pilgrimage to Italy, following the life of St. Francis. To be honest, I was never really interested in Italy before reading Chasing Francis. How everyone else here in the US romanticizes Italy is how 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 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 is my absolute favorite. It softens things; it makes the world less harsh. I took a moment to 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 kept thinking over and over, "Don't forget the rain, Sarah. Don't forget this moment."
In fact, I got a tattoo to remember it. In the front lawn, spelled out with plants, was the word "pax," which translates literally as "the kiss of peace." Isn't that lovely to think about?