Sculptures on Assisi rooftops
As you stroll Assisi – and many other medieval hill towns – walk “bi-focally”: one eye down to watch your footing, one eye up to take in the masterpieces on the terracotta-tiled rooftops: the chimneys. Bricks and terracotta roof tiles merge together in veritable sculpture art works. Who built them? Stonemasons, many with very little formal schooling – and only “on-the-job” training.
It takes skill to build a fireplace which draws well, sending the smoke right up the chimney, rather than in billowing gray clouds into the living room. Just imagine: the chimneys standing proudly on Assisi rooftops are outlets for well-built fireplaces in the houses below – yet each one is a mini-architectural masterpiece in its own right. On the classic Assisi chimney, roof tiles meet in a point, like the Cappucin monks’ hoods; after all, this is the town of San Francesco. Other chimneys seem to be mini-chalets with sloped roofs or bell towers; now and then, an Assisi chimney flaunts a whimsical Byzantine motif.
Antennae or satellite discs flank many chimneys: the modern meets the ancient. Next to the chimneys, you often see the pipe of a wood-burning stove, wisps of smoke spiraling upwards from the top now that the weather has turned crispy cold.
As fuel costs soar, wood is back; fire has been re-invented. The signs are clear: the artistic chimneys and the wood stove pipes topping medieval hill town rooftops are smoking these days.
An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are
una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.
www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.
Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on