We had a great night sleep except for the phone in our room rang at 4 AM!!! Who would call our room at 4 AM? No one answered; I hung up immediately and went back to sleep. The nice breakfast at least saved the morning. The croissants were freshly baked and they even have the giant cherries that I totally missed since the last time I had them in Provence, France. Freshly squeezed peace juice in that cute glass container was offered but it was too sour for my liking.
Jason found this “heart-shaped” cherry; he sometimes can be romantic haha!
We had almost the whole breakfast room to ourselves since we got there early.
There was also a made to order menu…I ordered an omelette with vegetable, mushroom, and tomatoes and got this. Urg!
After breakfast and a quick bathroom break, we started our adventure to explore the nearby towns. We drove to Spello, the flowery town, an hour away from Norcia. There are a few metered parking lots right outside of the old town but here’s a big issue: it only takes coins! The credit card function wasn’t working and it has a sign (in Italian btw, thank goodness for Google Translate app that I installed and downloaded Italian so it worked well without the need for the snail-slow 2G data to load) for the direction to the next paying machine to pay with a credit card. I went to another machine and that has the same problem! I dug through my purse and all I can find was a 50 cents Euro coin…at least that was good for like 15 minutes.
We walked into the old town to search for a place that opens this early and can exchange a Euro bill into coins. We went into a pharmacy, no luck, the lady said she has no coins and recommended that we check out the bar. We walked to the bar, no luck as well. Then, I spotted a pizza shop right across the street and I gave it a try, luckily, they carried some coins and willing to exchange €10 with me. So take note, when visiting those small towns and villages, remember to save coins for parking!!!
We put in €2 enough for 2 hours and started to explore the town.
There are flower pots everywhere, it really live up to its name the flowery town.
The flowers added colors to the rather dull, yellow, and stony houses.
There are two main streets in the old town so you basically can’t get lost. We wandered into the small side streets to search for hidden gems and we found this absolutely gorgeous street:
This is located right off one of the main streets so it was pretty easy to find.
Here’s the street name, I took this picture because of the beautiful tiles on the wall instead of the street name 🙂
Another off the side street, we were attracted by the bright shades of yellow.
More pretty side streets to keep us snapping photos.
Here’s the map of the town which highlighted the tourist route.
That’s one hidden entrance!
A snack bar:
More pretty tiles underneath the street sign:
There are some souvenir shops selling the regular souvenir items like magnets but no cute ones to add to our collection.
One of the viewpoints from the tourist route, it wasn’t that spectacular.
We walked to Venus’ Gate down this street:
Then we went back to the old town center to side streets that we haven’t been to yet.
We stumbled upon this little garden – Pro Loco Spello:
And then back to more side streets:
I wondered what that vase with a tree represented for, I saw that in more than one towns.
This street has no flower pots so it look “cold”.
Whenever we see flower pots, we went in the street to check it out.
We completed the loop and back to the main intersection where we started.
The sun angle raised higher at that time and less shadow.
This is one of the first streets when we entered the old town, now you can see the flower pots out of the shadow.
Spello is a cute town that worth a visit, we walked the loop and with stops to take photos took around a little more than an hour. We saw some tourists but not big bus tours so it was very easy to take photos and peaceful.
Spello, a view from the car while we entered the highway.
Next stop: lunch at Ristorante La Sirenetta cucina di pesce right behind Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi. We were the first customers to enter so we were worried about the food quality. This is one of the few seafood restaurants in the area probably due to the distance from the sea. We both ordered the seafood spaghetti and it was okay….can’t expect much since the region is not famous for seafood.
Lunch was €33, I preferred seafood spaghetti anytime over any cheesy and meaty meal.
Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli outside, it was closed when we were there.
After lunch, we drove up to the center of the old town and Google Map guided us through this narrow road surrounded by fields. The only positive side of this route is the view….you see the big building on the left? That’s the famous Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Assisi is where Saint Francis was born and died.
Once we entered the town center, there are a few parking lots so made parking easy. We parked at Assisi Parcheggio Saba, closest to the church. There’s also a level for tour buses so that tells you how much visitors to the famous church. It cost €4.50, I think we stayed for 2 hours. From the parking garage, it was an easy walk up.
Here we are at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, it has a huge plaza, woah!!!!, with shaded walkways on each side to relief from the hot sun.
Unfortunately, no photo inside so you’ll need to Google it to see the interior. It is definitely as grand as its exterior.
A lot of tourists!
There are a few stands near the church that sell religious-themed souvenirs as well as hats. I bought a very cute baby blue hat and it only cost €8!
After the church, we walked around to check out the town, it’s a lot bigger than Spello! Although not much flower pots but the medieval-looking town is nice to stroll around.
We walked all the way to Piazza del Comune, the center square. The piazza has a lot of beautiful architectures.
Right on the piazza is this small church but shockingly beautiful inside – Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Assisi:
I love the blue and gold color combination!
Also in the piazza, they have this tree on a vase statue as well!
Right after the piazza, this block of buildings looked very cute.
We took a break at a gelato shop called “Cream and Chocolate”. We got three scoops for only €3.50. It wasn’t the best gelato but it was good to relief from the heat.
More street photos:
We walked all the way to Cathedral of San Rufino, it looked very plain compared to Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Jason went in while I took a break in the shades; he said it wasn’t worth to go in.
We went to more side streets before turning back.
There are a lot of churches in Assisi so we didn’t attempt to visit it all. Near this church has paid bathroom so it was a relief…..finding bathroom in between lunch and dinner time (restaurants don’t open until 7 PM!!!) was the biggest challenge traveling during pregnancy!
It was a long walk all the way back to the parking lot…..16 minutes. We had some time to spare so we decided to visit one more town. I was searching with my very slow mobile data and found Todi.
There’s a small parking lot in front of Tempio Di S. Fortunato where we parked and cost €2. The town is very small but they do have a visitor center where we went in to get a map of places of interest. However, the majority of the interesting sites like Santa Maria della Consolazione are located outside of the town. So we just walk around the main plaza. The view on the back of the visitor center building, you can see that the town is located up on a hill with fields surrounding it.
This is where the local market takes place:
The main plaza, Piazza del Popolo.
There’s always a church in the plaza, this is Todi Cathedral.
The interior is rather simple and no colors.
From the outside of the cathedral overlooking the plaza:
There’s really not much to see in the town center so we walked back to check out Tempio Di S. Fortunato. The interior, simple but I do prefer the gothic style.
We decided to drive back to Norcia – it was a long 1.5 hours drive through small roads. Norcia town when the shops were still open:
We had dinner at Osteria Senti where we walked by the previous night so we know it is open. We ordered the Norcia truffle fried with egg.
The truffle’s taste was very strong.
I ordered the grilled steak and it was so salty like sea salt is free!!! OMG it was hardly edible. Luckily, the vegetable and fried potatoes were good portions so I finished those.
Jason ordered a fish filet with truffles….yes more truffles that’s affordable in this region. Our dinner cost €43.
Of the towns we visited today, I liked Spello the most even though it is not as big as Assisi but the pretty side streets were fun to explore and photograph. It was a long day and we walked almost 9 miles!!! We were sleeping like a pig except waking up at 4 AM again by the stupid phone, grrrr did someone mistakenly set up the wake-up call and forgot to turn it off?