My daughter Maria (the happy, pretty girl at the left) recently returned from a month in Italy. She had a blast. Here are excerpts from an interim report she sent:

We got back late last night from Venezia (Venice) around 11pm. Our hotel was a 5 minutes walk from St. Marks Square. I took lots of pictures. Venice is beautiful! Its so weird to see buildings hundreds of years old next to more modern buildings and being passed by speed boats. We were there for the Feast of the Redeemer which is a celebration of the end of the Black Plague in 1576 when the Doge prayed to God to spare Venice. It worked and a church was built in honor of the “redeemer”. Lots of feasting and drinking topped off by fireworks. The fireworks were nothing special and were very similar to our 4th of July display.

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We left at 6am on Wed to go first to Assisi where St. Francis lived and died (no idea who he is). We went first to a church in which he founded his little group of franciscans, lived in literally a hole in the ground, and died. I was extremely grouchy from having not gotten to sleep untill 2am and getting up at the crack of fucking dawn. But I kept my mouth shut, which I gave myself a pat on the back for. But I slipped when we were shown these rose bushes where Francis threw himself into and the thorns fell off. I couldn’t help it, I started laughing. I was instantly shushed and given a lot of dirty looks. Oops. Then we went to the main part of Assisi (more pictures) which is still a very medieval town with lots of small winding streets and squished looking buildings. There we went to the Basilica of St. Francis, erected in his honor after he was canonized. Huge ass church with 3 levels and lots of steps. We were given a tour by a Franciscan friar from Seattle, very nice guy. Of course we couldn’t take pictures of talk. What gives? He told us about the art and the birth of the art form where depiction of the human body became huge. I forgot the name. He pointed out several frescos showing Francis and important holy people. He also said that Francis is often compared to Christ, which I found interesting. I liked the crypt best. Although I didn’t get the feeling there were any ghosts down there, which disappointed me. Got to see where Francis is buried (supposedly) and several of his followers. I think they should do DNA just to make sure but that’s just my opinion.
We had lunch and headed to Florence. Florence was only remotely interesting since there was nothing to do in the evening! NOTHING! We went to some church and we saw the David. God Damn is he hot! I lot of the girls said if he were a real man they would totally bang him. But we weren’t allowed to talk or take pictures. . . .I went on a water taxi with Valery, Angela, Marcia (Vals roommate), and this older woman also from our group Sat afternoon. We went to this English pup around Campo di Fiori and danced. Sigh. We’re going to Capri on Thurs. Very looking forward to that.

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