I suppose that I must first apologize. This post will most certainly not be the most eloquent or lengthy of additions, nor will it provide any insight into the state of the human condition per my personal experience. This all being the case due to one of many lessons learned thus far in Italy. Rule one: time in Italy is not wisely spent behind a computer.
In studying St. Francis and the culture from which he has come, much is easily gained through simple imitation. There are many lessons to be learned from the European monopod and her son dressed in course brown. Unfortunately, ten days time is hardly time enough to fully absorb the lessons offered by these unwitting pasta eaters. I suspect the knowledge left bestowed on us, Wallies abroad, will be that of the variety not easily discovered at first sight. Certainly there are those immediate lessons, but it seems that once drowned in a pool of art and ‘curtainless’ showers, it will take nothing short of removal from such a pool to gain any true appreciation or perspective of what it is that we will have to take home besides postcards depicting the virgin and ‘una bottiglia di vino’. A day spent roaming the woods and countryside where St. Francis once laid foot offers nothing short of an experience that comes close to forcing introspection. Watching the children play in the campo of Siena, reminds us of our singularity as a human race even with a people so seemingly different; all this of course under the eyes of fresco after fresco and tile mosaic. And in this way, we the barbaric cavemen from the former Athens of the Midwest, are want to slowly and incompletely uncover both the psyche behind a people of the Mediterranean and perhaps for the luckier of us a yet unexplored corner of our own.
Now in Assisi, the less vague, less chic town of our journey thus far, it seems that its existence and continued success relies heavily if not entirely on the tourist industry provided by St. Francis. While the streets of Siena seemed at all times to be filled with life no matter the time of day, it strikes me that the religious pilgrims of Assisi have not allowed the city to lend itself to much night life, or any animation past nine at all for that matter, aside from walking the aisles of miniature St. Francis’ to and from the basilica bearing his name.
At this point I must digress to my first item of discussion that with hands stuck to a keyboard the rest of the body is unfortunately made to have unrequested and unwanted respite from this ephemeral excursion in a way that seems rather wasteful. And so I must leave you the reader most likely unsatisfied, but at least with the knowledge that one Wally won’t be wasting his parents’ money glued to a laptop.
Stephen Egan- ‘09