I thought I would escape the grey clouds and wet English June by escaping to Italy and for most of it I was lucky but on our day out in Assisi our luck ran out. With Constant showers and threatening skies, I really didn’t want to leave the car. But beautiful cities look pretty with a grey backdrop too. Assisi isn’t just a holy place, its enchanting allure is enough to make anyone fall in love.
Like most italian towns, the bright flowers and pretty alley ways kept my eyes busy, constantly searching for another street to get lost in. But its not hard to find your way back in this small place, especially when almost every main street leads you to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was born in Assisi and you can read more about his life here.
The church was met with an unfortunate earth quake in 1997 and some were killed in an aftershock. Then this church was closed down for restoration, and now it stands tall again.
While the artwork and architecture was fascinating, I was mystified by this random boat just stranded in front of the top church. I tried to make out the description that lay next to it, but it was all in Italian. Thanks to google I found this translation and it really touched my heart:
A seven meter boat traveled on the Mediterranean Sea for a long time. Its nine passengers arrived safely on the Island of Lampedusa in March of 2014.
In the same days other boats shipwrecked and seven people fleeing Syria drowned in the Aegean Sea, forty-two people fleeing Yemen drowned in the Gulf of Aden and two hundred and fifty-one persons fleeing the Congo drowned in Lake Albert. Refugees, men and women, fleeing war, violence and death. And children, as well, fifty-seven in the Lake drownings alone. Time passes but things haven’t changed. The boats continue to transport those who make it to Europe, while hundreds drown and die, including many children.
The photograph of little Aylan lying on the shore of a Turkish beach seemed to have awakened consciences and it seemed that something could truly change. But the child with the red jersey was only one of many. After him they have continued to die by the hundreds in the same water.
Little four year old Sena drowned at the end of November. Her mother spoke her name continuously while looking for reassurances while boarding the boat with nineteen people, as recalled by the few survivors of the shipwreck. They remembered little Sena. Their words accompanied the photo of Turkish soldiers carrying her with the other bodies of victims.
The children continue to die. They have numbered seven hundred of the thirty-six hundred drowning deaths in the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year. And we ourselves live to look at their photographs, confused by the terror that hit home with the Paris massacre.
Fear blinds and pushes for closing the borders, where perhaps some terrorists have passed, but where certainly one finds thousands of victims of the horrors some profess to define as “religious”, that slaughter every day and cause thousands of people to flee. And to abandon everything and to accept the notion of a likely death at sea to escape certain death in the country where they were born.
The boat is red with a white strip across it and the deck is blue like the sea and the sky. It had a forty horsepower motor and went swiftly until three miles from the coast of Lampedusa, where it was aided by the Coast Guard.
Now in Assisi it is moored in front of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis to represent all of the boats that carry the living to Europe and all of the boats lost at sea.
It’s a boat without a name on which only nine traveled, but it represents all of the thousands of persons who ask for help and have a need and a right to have international protection.
This old, rusty boat stands for humanity and it stands for the right of every human being to live without having to live in fear. There is a beautiful quote by Guru Nanak that comes to mind:
“Before becoming a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh or a Christian, lets become a Human first”
Some people come to Assisi and fall in love with the great views from the top of the church, some people fall in love with the cobbled streets and local cafes with fresh smelling coffee but I fell in love with this little boat without a name.
Here are more pictures of the town. I definitely would recommend a day trip or two, anything longer would probably be too long. It takes roughly 2 and a half hours by car from Rimini so start your day early.