Subject: Pilgrim routes, etc. (was Encounters with police)
Dear Gail

Your story about hitting the car of the police official at the Eremo of Saint Francis was a good one. You mentioned seeing the inspector and his wife along the pilgrim routes for the rest of the day. I was wondering if you were referring to a specific route or just the usual Assisi biggies such as Santa Chiara, the Basilica, etc. ? Being a lover of Saint Francis and all things of Assisi, I am curious to know if I've missed something. And if I have, what a good reason to immediately plan a return trip!

Isn't it beautiful at the Hermitage? We loved walking out on the path into the woods, and discovering all the tiny twig crosses left by the pilgrims who came before us. We left two of our own, and our prayers, behind.

A bad Italian story: At the lower Basilica of Saint Francis, there are many relics and possessions of St. Francis, and all the captions are in Italian. Our own Graziella of the Zine offered the phrase, Tarzan Italian, and that is exactly the type of Italian I speak. I read Italian a little better, maybe at a 1st or 2nd grade level. The caption under one case read Pelle de San Francesco and I guess I just couldn't get it through my head that I was looking at an actual piece of skin from St. Francis. There were two Italian women also looking at the relics, and I turned to them and rubbed the skin on my arm, saying, Pelle de San Francesco??? and they looked at my like I was the stupidest person they had encountered that day, and nodded, Si, si. Like what the heck else do you think it is, lady? seemed to be the message.

At the Medici chapels in Florence, a similar thing happened. There was a reliquary near the souvenier-gift shop, bearing an inscription that said, Spina. Well, I have a slow child's Italian vocabulary, and spina wasn't in my tiny traveler's dictionary. What a laugh we had while the gift shop attendant tried to get the meaning across to us. She kept tapping her head, and we were saying, Skull? Hair? Head? Brains? and on and on, until it finally hit me that she was trying to get Crown of Thorns across to us, and that spina meant thorn.

All my bad Italian stories seem to have religious overtones, but we travel in Italy at least partially to discover holy sites and places...

Ciao! Debbie in Pittsburgh