Director James Kicklighter in Montepulciano, Italy on Study Abroad making his documentary film Di Passaggio

Assisi, of course, is home to St. Francis and St. Claire -- the founding members of the orders that share their names.

It's a nice, hillside town that has a lot of traffic due to the importance of these individuals upon the Catholic Church. Most striking is their tombs.

The Church of St. Francis has two layers; the old church on bottom, the new church on top. New is several centuries old of course -- about a thousand years, but what's that in European History? Most impressive are the paintings portraying his life by Giotto. The church was damaged badly a few years back with an earthquake, but experts have pieced it together in such a fashion that you can barely tell. His crypt is dimly lighted and quite stirring, in a simple, stone vault with assorted statuary on the walls.

St. Claire has a nice pink and white granite church, with a gorgeous tomb reminiscent of the Fox Theater in Atlanta. This starry blue ceiling has beautiful tones that anyone would appreciate. However, as I don't believe we take our bodies with us, I have no use for burial.

Pisa is fun, but when you see the leaning tower, it's easy to ask yourself -- that's it? When we see pictures, they're normally photoshopped. Hate to tell the rest of you who are blissfully ignorant, as I was myself, that it is in the middle of a piazza with the church and baptistery. However, as you walk up the tower, it is bizzare walking sideways and then forwards as you walk around the tower.

I hate heights.

So hitting the top of the Leaning tower of Pisa was nerveracking -- top that off with a rainy day when the granite was slippery? Very exciting stuff. The steps have indentures from years of walking, so this makes it extra difficult.

However, arriving at the top is not the end -- there is a tippy-top which requires going around another circular stairwell. Even more exciting in the windy, rainy day.

But I did it, filmed it, stayed coordinated and survived...before tripping out on the last step of the tower.

This weekend, I spent my time in Venice and spent entirely too much money (thank you Citi Rewards MasterCard). Fortunately, I believe I've completed my gift giving, so we're okay. I would divulge some of my purchases, but certain individuals read this blog and the surprise will be ruined.

Activities included:

  • Rialto Bridge
  • St. Mark's Basilica
  • Vaporetti Boat
  • Murano (where the glass is handblown -- I got myself a 6 piece wine set with gold trim. Yes, they were very expensive, but they are very nice and will last forever if they make it back in one piece).
  • St. Mark's Square (where I fed the birds! I had 7 on my body at one point along with a crowd of 50 pigeons and assorted international tourists to hear me sing "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins).

I had dinner canal side, which marks the most expensive meal of my life (and that is saying something for those who eat with me), but it was delicious and worth the experience. I do NOT eat Seafood, so I ordered Lasagna for my first course and Steak/Potato for my second, along with a nice glass of wine. It doesn't compare to Montepulciano's Vino Noble, however, which gets mentioned by anyone in Italy when I tell them it's my home base.

While shopping, I ran into a Delt from Southern Mississippi, a family from St. Simons Island, and some friends ran into a group from Georgia Tech.

It's a small world.


PS: This week, I'm going to Rome and Florence for the last time. The weekend will likely be spent in Montepulciano, as there are some filming chores to do. I've been reviewing footage, and things are still coming along nicely. We're at 18 hours, so if I can shoot 6 hours for the next two weeks, we'll be at 30 hours -- right where I wanted to be. Fingers crossed.