Friday, June 6, 2008

A 23rd Birthday Worth Remembering!

I'm going to start off by saying hey to everyone back home following the progress of our adventure in Italy. Today was an extra special day for me because it was the 23rd anniversary of the day of my birth. This is the second time I have been on an international tour for my birthday. As some of you may remember from the Tanzania tour, I lost my luggage for the first 9 days of the trip, which was a huge reality check. I'm happy to report that I arrived with all of my luggage for this trip and everything has been going well, but enough about the past.

The point of this blog is to tell about this tour and I have already deviated from that simple task. So I will try to get focused and finish up as it is nearly midnight our time.

Today couldn't have been a more memorible birthday. The day started off with a guided tour of Assisi, by our guide Eduardo. He brought us around all over the city and showed told us everything we ever wanted to know about Assisi.

After the tour we had about 3 hours in the afternoon to explore the city on our own. Myself and a group of others decided it would be fun tour hike up an incredibly steep hill to a castle called Rocca Maggiore. It was not as easy to find as we thought. We managed to go about 3 miles out of the way and had to stop and ask directions in our broken English/Italian a couple of different times. We finally reached the castle and it was definately worth the effort to get there. The 2.5 Euro charge to explore the castle was worth every bit once we got to the top of the castle's highest tower. We could see for miles in all directions and this also provided some great picture opportunities.

After our adventure to the castle we were starving and prior to heading out we had asked one of our trip advisors, Mauro, where the best pizza place in Assisi was located. This restaurant ended up being much easier to find than the castle and Mauro was correct in his recommendation. The food and service was amazing! We were all glad we waited to eat until after the hike to the castle because if we had eaten before we would not have made it from being so stuffed.

The next memorible event was the mass and concert at the Basilica Di S. Francesco {or Basilica of St. Francis for those of you not able to understand Italian}. This performance was particularly special to our choir because one our "Augustana Choir Tradations" songs is the Prayer of Saint Francis. It was incredible to be able to sing the prayer that he wrote in a church dedicated to him. I think that this was a special memory for everyone in the group. There was also a great turnout for the performance. It was raining prior, and we did not know how many people would show up, but it was a packed house and there were actually people standing in the back.

The last thing that comes to mind from a very exciting day was after the concert it was absolutely pouring rain after the concert. We had to roll up our choir robes, tuck them under our shirts and run to the buses which were about a 5 minute walk from the Basilica.

Hopefully my day in Assisi wasn't too boring for everyone back home. It definitely was a birthday I'll never forget!

Written By: Ryan Wilkison '08