Next was Perugia, where the boys enjoyed the hotel pool before we headed up into the city. We walked the streets during the passegiata, getting a feel for the long descending stairs, finding the infamous 5k aqueduct (now a footpath) and selecting individual Perugia chocolates for tasting (Caleb found one with marshmallow, Anthony chose strawberry, James' was studded with hazelnuts and mine was filled with caramel).
We cannot help the pull to buy souvenirs, Anthony has a rapidly growing collection of painted tiles (with city names---and now one with St. Francis' prayer) and Caleb seeks out the gems/mineral stores in each city. In Gubbio he purchased Bizno---a rock that grows with straight lines and is metallic/shimmery. I bought a tiny little ceramic creamer---I couldn't resist the tiny bird motif.
On day two we woke up to snow and cold. Fortunately we had explored Perugia the night before, so we gathered out belongings and drove to Assisi. My only regret is that we didn't have more time in Assisi (had to return for soccer games that same night). Assisi is touristy for obvious reasons, but the city has embraced that fact and in many ways beautified their city (due to the time of year and the weather, we were lucky that the tourists had slowed to a mere trickle). They have an impressive parking garage, lovely cafes, numerous well-kept shops and quite a few art galleries.
We fell in love with one artist's work, and would have loved to have purchased a piece. Perhaps one day we will order one; check out Massimo Cruciani.
Anthony summarized it well: Assisi was special because of their unique churches. They have 'a church inside of a church,' and a 'church on top of a church.' Which is true! Assisi's original tiny little hamlet church resides inside a large cathedral (this is below/outside the city). It was surreal.
San Francesco is the church in Assisi (it includes one church on top of another), where you can still go at midnight to experience the monks' cantor. The 'bottom' church is glorious, well-kept and beautifully frescoed. This original church, Caleb noticed, was in the shape of a Greek cross. It was built by the Franciscan brothers; the church on top is more traditional in shape and height, with frescoes depicting St. Francis' life. We bought little wooden crucifixes, postcards and snapped photos among the flitting snowflakes.