Thursday, 3 July 1952:
In the morning my breakfast in the hotel included a really soft six minute boiled egg. Then we started the day by visiting a church that was built over St. Francis’ grave. In the middle of the church the frescos began with a beautiful mural by Giotto and another artist. Giotto’s mural had a bright blue background with his characteristic holes.
Then we went down into the lower church and into the crypt where I saw an ornamental iron grave. At the crypt there was a German speaking monk. Another monk came up to us as we were leaving and asked for change. He had lots of small change in American money and wanted to change it for American dollars, so we obliged. Next on the tour was the upper church. It was Gothic even more so than the middle church.
Soon after it was back to the bus and off to Florence. The bus climbed up to Perugia, which was one of the most beautiful hill cities, and then down to the shores of Lake Trasimeno. With Florence coming up I napped.
I couldn’t tell for sure about this place yet. It was pretty hot! We were all anxious to get out, relax, and cool off somehow. We reached Atlantico Hotel. My first thought was for a drink of water. The lobby looked fairly nice, but the room was not as nice as last night. However we had a bath nearby.
Mrs. Hansen, Mrs. McDonald, and I decided to go shopping, but I lost them quite soon. I found Mrs. McDonald talking to a couple of American servicemen from Maryland that were stationed in the woods near Leghorn. They shared with us that they don’t like Italy, because it’s too dirty. Also they warned us not to drink or eat any of the dairy products, because several of the boys from their unit had gotten spinal meningitis. Furthermore they felt the Italian Communists were out for anything they could get. One soldier liked Austria and Germany much better than Italy. All the soldiers were anxious to get home to the United States.
I wandered around a book shop reading the books before buying them. I ended up with a book about Florence and Rome. Then I ran into Irene, Hermine, and Betty. Eventually we located a little restaurant that wasn’t open until 7 p.m. We were standing there wondering what to do when a cute little gray haired man came and opened the door. We followed the man inside to take a look and see what kind of place it was.
It was so cool, restful, and clean with flowers and fruit sitting all around. We thought we would have to wait until 7 p.m. to eat, but the man motioned us to sit down and brought us a menu. We had quite a hilarious time ordering. With the help of my Spanish, we finally made it clear that we wanted to eat dinner.
Our dinner started out with ravioli. And during that time the manager, who spoke a little English, came over to help us. Also a GI from San Antonio, who was stationed in Germany, came and offered his assistance as well. He loved Italy, in contrast to the other GI’s, but didn’t like Germany so well. The manager’s daughter had been helpful to him, so he had more or less made this his headquarters. We talked to him until she came over. He said she would be able to show Irene where to find a transformer for her iron.
The whole family was accommodating and willing to do anything they could for us. The wife of the manager and another daughter of the man, who opened up the restaurant for us, came by with her little baby. We had old home week playing with the baby.