Updated: Jan 20
“Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” – Bertrand Russell
Assisi and I have a love/hate relationship. At first I hated it and then absolutely fell in love with it.
I had read about the peaceful tranquility that St. Francis of Assisi found in the mountains. How he prayed and felt the spirit of the Lord talking to him. The town is shrouded in reverence.
That is what I was looking for: peace. I didn’t realize that what would greet me in Assisi was crying, fear, anger, and ready to throw my hands up and leave Italy all together. And, that was just me in the first few minutes of arriving to Assisi.
Rewind to several weeks before my trip. Before coming to Assisi, I had everything ready: trains confirmed.. Bed and breakfast confirmed. All was recorded, organized, and planned in my journal.
My husband and I were coming in from Austria on the train and we had ONE connection to make. Easy enough. I didn’t think of planning more in advance. I had no idea that trains would sometimes not make their connections or that snafus happen and you can be stuck on the train, not moving, for hours. Yay me.
Unfortunately, Italy was about to see my crazy self!
Fast forward to the day of our arrival in to Assisi: Our train gets stuck somewhere near our connection.
I had a 15 minute window to get off my train coming from the north and to catch my connecting train to take us to Assisi. 15 MINUTES! Not my smartest move.
While we are stuck on the tracks, I am sweating bullets and start to feel the panic settling in!
I'm guzzling my beer when I see my connecting train, the one I want to be on, hurtling down the tracks. NOOO!
I know once we arrive at the train station, the next train going out to Assisi wouldn’t be for a few more hours which means I would be arriving in Assisi close to 11:00pm.
After sitting on the tracks and a few beers later, we arrive at the connecting train station a little too late.
Full of beer in my gut, I run, with a swishing heavy backpack on, to the nearest dial-up telephone.
Out of breath and patience, I call the bed and breakfast. Through the language barrier, I try to explain my situation to the owner. I slowly yell out every word. She has no clue of what I am shouting into the phone: she doesn't speak English.
Remember, this is 2006. There are no apps to translate English into Italian. There is no Google Maps. No WiFi.
Everyone stares as I yell (slowly) and enunciate (like an idiot tourist) in to the phone. Oh Lord, help me! I think I may have even grunted, “The train-oh will be late-oh”. Yeah.. not a shining moment for me. All I can think of is I hope she will be awake.
Our train comes later. I run (again) to snatch the available seat in the dining car. I guzzle another beer, or two, and I am trying not to freak out. I had already had my fair share of culture shock in Rome and now this!
Hubby tells me in no uncertain terms, to calm down. (He is the voice of reason). Don't tell me to calm down! *Guzzles more beer* I need to cry. Not just a few tears, but bawl my eyes out. Finally, we get to Assisi and it is LATE. We hail a taxi and up to Assisi we speed .. almost midnight.
I have the map scribbled on a scrap piece of paper on how to get to the bed and breakfast from the town center. How I found the bed and breakfast? I will never know!
At the bed and breakfast, it is pitch-black inside. I call. I knock. I throw pebbles up to the windows. NOTHING. I start to lose it. Where are we going to sleep tonight? On a park bench?
We head back to the town center and go in to the only place that has a light on, a tiny grocery store that is soon to close. I run in panicking.
Through tears and a high-pitched, “about to seriously lose it” voice, I try and tell the man working there, what just happened. I can tell he feels sorry for the hysterical American as tries again and again to call my bed and breakfast… no luck… they don’t answer.
I start to cry. I am exhausted and have nowhere to go. Another American couple in the store heard my story and the only consolation they could offer was a pat on my back and to tell me it would be ok. DON’T PAW ME!
The man, aka Italian hero, starts calling around to local hotels and small inns. FINALLY, someone answers and has a room. In his broken English, he points and tells us where to go. I all about smother him with kisses right then and there.. But I was too tired to even do that.
We have a room! We shower and I cry myself to sleep. All the frustration and fear come out in tears, it’s how I cope and my way of release.
The next morning, we pack up our bags, thank the small inn owner and schlep to our original bed and breakfast.
The owner and her adult daughter are outside. The daughter starts to bawl me out (in English) that I duped her mother and she is out of money. We yell at each other and I told her what happened and that I was HERE calling, knocking, and looking like a lunatic at midnight.
She sobbed again and again about how she was out of money and how hard she works, blah blah blah. I recounted my story again.
In the end, we worked it out. Hug hug. We got our room and were able to take the one day we had in Assisi and explore.
Honestly, Assisi is lovely. Extremely peaceful. I am just glad I was able to see that.
Share and comment about what brought you to Assisi?
Any fun stories? Mishaps? Do share!