Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Assisi 22.12.2013: Muted Colors and Umbrian Village Churches

Assisi in Mist, 21 December 2013

Sitting in Assisi (more precisely: Santa Maria degli Angeli) train station, awaiting our train to Rome. the mist persisted all the while we were in Assisi, making the place more magical--muting and hiding shops full of tawdry tourist tat, giving the birds singing atop trees a far-away, ghostly presence.

The muted colors everywhere--yellow, rose, brown, gray, soft light red--muted even more beautifully in the mist. The tree outside our room at Casa Papa Giovanni swam in seas of mist, appearing and then disappearing again, as new waves of mist arrived.

Assisi Rooftop, 21 Dec. 2013
Beneath it, a rooftop of interlocking tiles in all the colors I just named, splotched with gold, green, and gray lichen, a thing of wonder. Something simple and not fussy, in contrast to the church gewgaws that are everywhere--something simple in which one hears Francis preach the gospel: be just who you are, raising hands and voice to praise God in the unique way only you can offer praise, by being your best self uplifted.

When we checked out of Papa Giovanni this morning, we found that the two suppers and one lunch we had eaten there cost only € 20--for two people. The food was so good--simple and honest. On the evening of the 20th, we had a very simple meal of minestrone replete with vegetables (so welcome after days of fat, salt, and stooge) followed by scallopini of pork served with green beans tossed in olive oil. With the soup were croutons of sliced bread fried in olive oil (or toasted and then smeared with olive oil). All delicious, with taste that is simply not there with the same ingredients in the U.S.

Lunch yesterday was pasta in tomato sauce followed by chicken scallopini and a mixed green salad, supper more of the delicious, filling minestrone, followed by an omelet, a slice of cheese, and a large dish of spinach braised and tossed simply in olive oil.
Porta Nuova, 21 Dec. 2013

Always a bottle of local Umbrian wine on the table, a dish of grated parmesan, a jar of peperoncini to sprinkle on the food, and a dessert plate of oranges, apples, and tangerines.

And before I forget: a highlight of our time in Assisi was happening on the little medieval church of Santo Stefano. Steve had seen signs to it, and wanted to follow them, because, well, Stephen. When we found the church, we were so glad we'd taken the time to follow the signs. It was utterly austere, simple in a way that puts the basilicas and cathedrals to shame, with a single faded and partially gone mural, and a tasteful statue of St. Stephen.

That and the plain crucifix over the altar are the whole of the church's ornamentation. The church was empty as we walked into it yesterday evening, and then a family came along with their children, evidently to visit the presepio. I felt the spirit of Francis far more palpably in this little Umbrian village church, which would have been in existence during his lifetime, than in any of the "official" Franciscan places we visited while in Assisi.

Church of Santo Stefano, Interior, 21 Dec. 2013

St. Stephen, 21 Dec. 2013

No comments: