Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Day 27: Friends Visit in Parma and One Day Away from Lucca
It has been a while since I have given a substantial post. Ed and I have enjoyed our time in Italy so far, though we have taken public transit more often than I would like. There are not convenient walking paths here in Italy like there were in Switzerland. Thus we have been reduced to walking on roads, which is difficult and sometimes slightly dangerous.
A recent highlight for us was a visit we had with some friends in Parma. One of my former colleagues from St. Joe's now lives near Venice, and she and her family were able to come out and visit us for Saturday evening and Sunday morning, including Mass. In their immense generosity, they treated us to dinner, brunch, and they offered to ship some of our unnecessaries back to the states, and they brought us a little care package of various energy bars, etc. It was very nice to spend some time with them. We experienced some authentic Parmasean cuisine while we were there as well, and of course Mass in the crypt chapel of the Duomo was beautiful.
After Parma, we went roughly south through the Appenines, our last significant mountain range. We are still on our way out, but we are officially in Tuscany, which has prompted a few Seinfeld and The Office references. The quiet forests move one to prayer, though the narrow shoulders and Italian drivers snap one out of it.
Right now we are in the town of Fivazzano. You Bellocians out there will be well aware that this is not on Belloc's route and indeed you would be correct. We have decided to take a little detour via the coast. We wil still end up in Lucca like Belloc, but we will miss Castelnuovo. This is for various reasons, and though I would like to remain mostly faithful to Belloc's route, it seems that the route via Castelnuovo involves somewhat dangerous roads, and also, this will essentially be our only opportunity to visit the coast.
Regardless of the means by which we arrive there, I am very excited to go to Lucca. Many people, including Belloc, have spoken very highly of this city, but is important to me primarily because it is where my very favorite saint is from and where there is currently a shrine to her. We are taking a full day here, and much of my time will be spent at the Monastery of St. Gemma. I am almost more excited to go here than to Rome.
Those of you who know me have perhaps heard my St. Gemma stories, but for those of you who don't, here is a link to a St. Gemma story that inspired my devotion to her: http://www.stgemmagalgani.com/2008/10/st-gemma-pleads-for-sinner-and-obtains.html?m=1
I love this picture of St. Gemma because of a quote I once read. It said, "Man is truly man when the light of God is reflected in a face upturned in prayer."
When next you hear from me, I will have been to Lucca. I can only hope I will be able to communicate the joy I am sure to experience there.