Horses in the field, gelato in the piazza

It’s been so hot here in Assisi — over 100F every day — that the horses that graze in the field down in the valley have refused to move out from under the shade of the single big tree. They crowd around it, swishing their tails and inching over as the sun slips through the sky. The pigeons, too, have been only desultorily circling, preferring to spend their days in the cool of the church towers. Assisi certainly has enough churches that every pigeon in town can find a shadow to sit in. A blue heat haze hangs over the valley, making photographing difficult, and no matter how light and airy the linen you packed you find you’re changing clothes three times a day.

Not that this keeps me from my walks. The longest, fastest, and most energetic is always the earliest: before breakfast, just as the 7:00 am church bells are starting up, I go out, this way or that, uphill or down, along the road or climbing the stairs. Since it’s really impossible to get lost here I eventually get back to the hotel, drink what seems like a gallon of water, and then have tea. Other folks from the workshop begin arriving around then. We have breakfast on the terrace and I go upstairs to write.

I teach from 1:30-4:00. Then comes the second walk, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, with one or more of the other teachers, to find a cup of cappuccino and a place to sit and drink it and talk. The third walk is after dinner, with whatever group wants to go, in what should be the cool of the evening but lately has been so still and close that it only seems reasonable, on that walk, to stop for gelato. Gelato in the piazza, I

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