Italia, Parte 1: Assisi

I can't believe I am back!  The 10 days on pilgrimage went by so quick, I feel like I blinked and was back home in DC.  What have I been doing since I got back?!  Well, trying catch up on sleep (who knew the jetlag would hit me so hard?!), getting rid of this little sore throat/cold thing, catching up on a gazillion blogs, and doing the greatest job at procrastinating at doing the one thing that NEEDS to be done before I get back down to Florida: preparing all of my stuff to move.  Ugh.  I get overwhelmed just typing that.  I need to get on it, b/c I really don't have a lot of time.  At.all.  So, of course a blog post about my pilgrimage is just the perfect thing to do!

Anyway... back to Italy.  It was a different experience than I was expecting.  Throughout my time, I had to remind myself, "this is NOT France, and I am with new people, doing different things and having a different experience all together."  I had a wonderful and amazing pilgrimage in France in 2007, and I wanted things to be exactly like that.  Just because things were going to be different, didn't mean I was going to have a bad time.  A few days into the trip, Mart and I were reflecting on just that.  It was a reminder that I am an adult now, not in college anymore where the campus minister directs everyone to take time to pray and reflect.  There were no thought provoking talks.  No built in hours for prayer.  If I wanted to make Italy a pilgrimage, I had to make the effort to do it.  I had to set the time aside to pray, reflect, journal, etc.  It's really what living your faith out after college is all about.  And, it's hard.  Did I do a good job of this?  Well, not as good as I would have liked.  Looking back, I wish I prayed a little more, said more rosaries and prayed with my friends.  Even though it wasn't as prayer-filled as I hoped, it was still an absolutely amazing experience.  One that I will always remember.

I was considered one of the young people, along with Mart, Tom and Jennine (my amazing roommate), but we were not the youngest, as there were 3 teens and, of course, the babe. :)  One of my fears was that I was not going to have anyone to hang out with.  Which is silly b/c my best friend was going.  But, she and Tom know basically everyone on the trip because it was a choir tour, and I was worried I would feel left out or a third wheel.  Man, do I over think things, or what?!  I thank God for my roommate and our time together.  The 'older' people on this trip were so incredibly open and welcoming.  I seriously am so blessed and honored to share this experience with all of them.

Ok, ok.  On to the pictures!  First up... the quaint little town of Assisi.  I want to go back and have a retreat at this place!!  Home of St. Francis and St. Clare.  Two amazing Saints.  I was able to walk where they walked, prayed where they prayed.  And, I still need to learn more about them.  If you have any good book recommendations of either one, please let me know!

One happy family, ready for Italy!
Beautiful sunrise over Italy.
Zuzu on the bus in Rome!  She did AMAZING on the plane. :) 
First look at old Assisi up on the hill!

We entered Assisi through one of the gates of the wall.

Tired, but still happy and excited. :)

Jennine and I in front of Basilica di Santa Chiara.

Trying to calm the babe.
This photo is deceiving b/c it looks like I succeeded.
But, I didn't.  Don't be fooled!
The light was amazing this first afternoon!

Having fun with manual focus.

This is where St. Francis lived.

This is a small chapel, that was actually considered a
church back in St. Francis's day.
 I don't know if you remember me mentioning or not, but, I was able to celebrate my birthday in Assisi!  It was such an incredible, prayer-filled day. :)  The weather was perfect, where I didn't even need my coat for a few hours.  I was even serenaded by the choir with a beautiful "Happy Birthday" song.  It was such a wonderful, wonderful day.  I am SO blessed.

Look at that blue sky!
Basilica di San Francesco.
The amazing St. John the Evangelist Choir!
They were able to sing at a public mass IN the basilica.
These were the only pics allowed.
Annnnnd commence the birthday photo shoot in front of St. Francis's basilica:

Are we believable?

My birthday evening was really awesome.  I was able to witness a magnificent sunset, go to confession, pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, get to know my roomie better and have a delicious meal.  What could be better than that?

Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli
Where said confession and adoration happened.
I think I am going to try and go to confession
on my birthday every year. :)
We may or may not have done a little photo shoot of ourselves with the self-timer.

Daddy-daughter moment.

I love this girl so very much.
It may feel like I have left out quite a few pics, but I don't want to overload this or anything.  These two first days of Italy were amazing.  It was the perfect way to begin. :)  I'll be posting about Florence and Rome soon! :)

Thanks for the prayers for safe travels and a wonderful trip.  I prayed for all of those that happen to read my blog, and all those who asked for specific intentions.  Prayers continue to come your way!

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