Today’s excursion was to drive to Rome with a stop in Assisi on the way. The first thing we noticed that was different about Assisi is the number of trees. We’d noticed none of the other walled cities had any trees, so we were excited to see trees here. They have a ton of olive trees.

We stopped by a couple of churches. The first was Basilica di Santa Chiara. It was very sparse upstairs, but then the crypt where Santa Chiara’s bones are held together in her form with clay, was ornately redone in the 19th century. A little ironic because of her oath of poverty.

Then we went on to the Basilica de San Francesco. There, we were denied entrance to the upper church because of an international discussion between believers and non believers. I was interested in listening, but wouldn’t have understood even if they let me in. So we went to the lower church and saw the frescos and the crypt where San Francesco is buried. It was quiet beautiful, but I did not have an epiphany or reconvert back to the church. Nor did God decide to speak with me or strike me down.

Next up was lunch, so Meine Schwester, Rocket Man and I made a break for it. We found a cute little pizzeria of the beaten path. There we indulged in antipasto, pizza and a half liter of house white wine. We didn’t have to hurry today, but ate way too much. Then we headed to the bus.

That is when we found out that one of the members of the tour group had been missing since the basilica. She hasn’t exited with us, and had this never been told where or when to meet the bus. We learned then that she is diabetic and has a habit of not looking where she is walking while taking photos. That is when all the worst thoughts started being tossed around. We thought we’d had our one scare of losing people yesterday when three went missing, but at least they were together. This woman was on her own.

Super Mario went off looking for her and to contact the police who were everywhere because of the conference. He also called local hospitals and the hotel in Rome where we are going no ambulances have left Assisi today . Luigi, the bus driver, and I went back to the drop off point to see if she was there, but had no luck. Of course, when Luigi and I reunited with everyone, they were giggling about how we’d skipped out for a quickie or something.

After an hour and a half of searching, there was nothing more we could do standing around. It is up to the police now. It has put a bit of a damper on the trip for now. Hopefully she will magically appear at the hotel having taken a cab there or something. I feel bad for her being alone and scared. It can’t be easy.

Good news! While on our way to Roma, a taxi driver called to say he has our tourist and he is putting her on the high speed rail and she should arrive in Roma before us. We are still not sure what happened or why it took hours to call. I’m claiming divine intervention. Maybe God was talking to her. I mean, you don’t say, “Sorry, God, I’ve got to go. Bus to catch. Check in later!” Or maybe she was signing up at the nunnery and there was a long line like there always is for the bathroom.

I still don’t know what happened exactly. I’m happy with my explanation. And after enough vino, I just don’t care. Even for the story.

Must have been a lot of vino.


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