Friday, October 14, 2011

Perugian confusion

I left Rome to head to Perugia. I arrived in Perugia where I then needed to get on a bus to get to my hostel. The hostel is out of town, at a backpackers farmhouse.  Being in the country with an Italian family, animals, wine, relaxing for a couple of days is just what I wanted.  I arrived at the bus stop, following the directions which lead me on about 1km of unecessary walking in the hot sun.  I rang the hostel for better directions, the man on the other end of the phone hardly spoke english.  I went back to the bus stop to start again, realising I missed a turn.  I eventually arrived to a large double story house, ever so quiet. Not a peep! I found an open door and was greeted by a young American girl, Maria who I assumed was another guest, but she told me she worked there.  I was kind of confused, there's no check in desk or anything official. I was wondering why she was American and asked if she was related to the family, she said no.
So she showed me around a little, explained a few things then took me to the dorm room.  I met Nora, another American girl, also working there. 
The funny thing is, I was the only guest!  This was the strangest place I have stayed so far on my journey.  I met old Rita, the Grandmother who runs the farm but I never saw her again. Although it wasn't exactly what I expected it was still very relaxing and I enjoyed it thanks to Nora.
She explained she had only arrived 2 days prior to me and she hated it. Poor love!  She was as confused as I was.  She told me about a program called HelpX where you apply to work at various places in Europe with a host, they pay you to work and house you which is a great concept, provided you get what you are expecting and have agreed on.
The farmhouse has been running for years and gets great reviews but I guess at this time of year, it's dead.
Maria was a little lazy and nonchalant.  Luckilly Nora and I had eachother to pass time with.
That evening I walked down to the supermarket to get my food for the next 2 days.  I grabbed a bottle of wine and some cheese for the 3 of us to enjoy while getting to know eachother.  I suggested the 3 of us go out to a bar so we caught a bus into the University to go to the local bar there for students.
Maria asked if we didn't mind going to her boyfriends apartment beforehand.  So we walked in, oh geez. It smelled of cigarettes and body odour, the guys that lived there were Moroccan and blasting their bizarro bollywood tunes. I had to hold back the laughter.  Nora and I sat side by side trying to disguise our sheer awkwardness.  The guys were nice enough, after being there for an hour or so we headed to the bar.
The bar was thankfully full of young people, it was karaoke night and shots were only €1. It was a cool place, the bartenders were funky Italians, singing and grooving and slinging drinks.  It was a good vibe in this place.  After not too long though, Maria left to go stay with her boyfriend. So Nora and I stayed, had a couple more drinks and even got up to sing a No Doubt song together.  We had some strange guy cracking on to us who was not cute at all and I must have told him 3 times I only speak english.  We decided to head home and we were in bed around 2am.

Next morning I had breakfast then jumped online for a little then decided I should go and visit Assisi.  I asked Nora to join me and we headed out on the train just after lunch.

Assisi is an incredible town. I would love to come back and stay a couple of days.  A very old town set up on a hill - holy, safe, beautiful and relaxing.
The birthplace of three saints, most famously St Francis of Assisi. 

The basilica where Francesco's tomb lies is a huge, world heritage listed structure.  You have to be silent, no cameras allowed.  A mass was in progress when we entered.  There were a couple of different prayer temples inside.  Downstairs in a dark, gothic room is the tomb. It stops your heart a little, you feel sad but at the same time really peaceful.

We caught a bus up to the top of the town where we could then walk back down through and explore on foot.  The streets are gorgeous, old, quiet, quaint and just what I expect from an old historical Italian town.  We walked through to the centro, just smiling and being amazed of the cuteness of this place.  Stopping to admire bakeries, delis and stores and the magnificent views of the world below Assisi. Priests, sisters and friars walk the streets while the locals sip wine, coffee and talk amongst eachother. 
A place not to be missed on a visit to Italy. No tourists, no hustle and bustle just pure beauty.

That night Nora and I made dinner while discussing our travel plans.

I think really we needed eachother for the 2 days I was there, she was a wreck unsure on what to do and I would have been the same had I not had her, more as my friend than a host, hopefully our paths cross in our future travels.


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