June 21, 2012

My Map of Assisi, Etc.

Put on a Franciscan habit in this town and people will think you know something about the place. I guess that's justified. Every day I have interactions with various sorts of visitors and tourists looking for various sorts of information and advice. From this I've learned a few things:

First, despite having probably spent more time here than most visitors over my various visits up to and including my current sojourn, I am largely ignorant of the things people want to know from me. I can tell you how to get to one of the major churches, but that's about it. I don't know anything about any of the restaurants, having never been to any of them, and nor I do I know which place has the best gelato. I don't know which hotel is which. I don't even know where exactly to find many of the houses of the various religious institutes. Some of my confreres might say that my ignorance is the result of being a boring homebody who has a hard time making friends, but it also might be because I'm at home studying and praying.

Second, some thoughts on language: a good trick I have learned is that if somebody is carrying a guidebook or--if you have a quick eye--even just a map, you can notice from it what their native language is. Also, almost everybody knows a little English, but almost nobody wants to use it. But they will if they think, rightly or wrongly, that it's the best common language they have with someone from whom they want something.

Third, on the subject of maps of Assisi. The maps that tourists tend to have vary greatly in their level of detail. Almost none of them have all the little alleyways and sets of stairs. Therefore, sometimes people get disoriented when they take a first turn according to their map and it doesn't turn out to be what they thought it was, etc. This is all very unnecessary in a place that more or less just has one end and another. Therefore, as a service to the pious pilgrims of this world, I have developed a map of Assisi such that, when someone consults it, he will know right away that is simplified and not worry about all these little turns and steps and be able to follow confidently the classic Italian advice on how to get anywhere: Va’ avanti, sempre diritto.

(click on the map for a larger view)

1 comment:

Word in the Hand said...

Pretty good map - the twisty turns have to be learnt by practical investigation - you are always in between one or other of the plazas - its only a matter of time. Although driving is another matter altogether