DAY 22, JUNE 8
(MATT) The next day. Thursday. We rose, took yet another shower (we can never tell when the next one will be), and headed for Rome. Sam had called Melissa and she thought that she might be able to meet us at the Piazza Navona around 1 p.m. But she wasn't sure. So we had all morning to wander about. We went to the Minerva and saw Catherine of Sienna, but couldn't get into her rooms because they weren't open yet. Then we stopped for a little sandwich and a cappachino. We sat and sipped our cappachino's for about an hour, talking about old songs and our favorite songs. It was really nice.
Then we hit the Pantheon, which had been rebuilt by the Romans in the first century and turned into a Catholic Church around 500. It was neat and, of course, under renovation. Next off to the Jesu, or what we thought was the Jesu. It actually turned out to be St. Ignatius of Loyola. But we forgive Sam because they were both Dominicans, I mean Jesuits. He redeemed himself minutes later by taking us to the real Jesu which housed the forearm and hand of St. Francis Xavier which had baptized millions of Indians. It was very Baroch and also under construction.
Then we headed back to the Piazza Navone where we hoped to meet Melissa. Sam waited by the fountain while Jon, Chris, and I walked around, shopped, and bought lunch. Then we went back, found Sam, and at 1:30 p.m. we decided that Melissa must not have been able to make it so we ate our food followed shortly after by the food we had bought for Melissa. Then something strange happened. Three vendors came up selling bracelets and hair weave pieces and Jon and Chris went for it, Actually, they were really fast (the vendors, that is). The fella had the thing tied to Chris' head and was starting the braid while Chris was still saying, "I don't think I want this." And he was well on his way while Chris said again, "No, no take it out." Chris stood and took it like a man after that. The guy said 20,000 Lira. Chris held out 10,000 and said, "Take it; that's all you're going to get. If its not enough, cut it out." Good job, Chris. Jon was the bracelet glutton; he ended up buying four for 15,000 lira. That guy won't have to work again for a week.
We bought one last gelato in Rome on the way to our car. We bought the grande (huge) again for 3,500 lira. Then we went looking for our car. That turned out to be more difficult than one might expect., Note to the readers: when in Rome, make sure you remember where you park. Trust us; its worse that your neighborhood supermarket. I think that's why it got the nickname "Eternal City"; that is how long it can take you to find your car. Actually, it wasn't that bad but when we found it, we soon noticed it had a "foot" on it. Apparently, we had parked illegally. I later was arguing with the cop and when he said that there were signs and I disagreed, he pointed down the street. I said nope and we walked together to see and after I demonstrated that there were no signs, he pointed to what looked exactly like a cross walk. I couldn't believe it. But, oh well, the tale gets darker yet. The ticket we found on our car said 59,500 lira, which we thought was a bit steep ($40) and then the cop seemed to have his own fare, which he gave us official looking paper receipt of for 54,000 lira (another $34). Wow, we spit the last dregs of Rome from our mouths, now full of bitterness, shook the dust from our feet and headed for Assisi.
Nothing much happened on the way to Assisi. But we got there without too much mishap. Cruised though town (against Sam's wishes), tried to find a supermarket (closed) and a laundry (didn't exist). We eventually ended up buying more bread and cheese at the camp store. It was food but not too good. Then we had a nice camp just outside of Assisi on the hill overlooking a, you guessed it, valley. It was a pretty campsite. We wrote letters and postcards 'til our fingers bled while Jon played the harmonica. I tried to call Liz but she was working again. I showed Sam a great way to kill lightning bugs (hitting them and watching them fly). Chris caught a bunch of them in a bottle for a night light. We bedded down, took turns playing the harmonica, and fell asleep.