I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon, after a wonderful day. I was a little tired and broke off from the group while they toured San Giovanni Rotundo; but mainly, I just wanted some time by myself and in quiet. It gave me a chance to catch up with my adventures here.
Yesterday we went to Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Saint Pio. Sorry I didn't take many pictures. Pietrelcina (am I spelling this right? no time to check, the battery is fading) is a small town, crowded on a hillside amongst many farms. Padre Pio's family lived in an odd arrangement; one part of their home was at one address, with other rooms a few doors down! The street is maybe 30 feet wide. Why so crowded? Remember, from the time of the disintegration of the Roman Empire until the end of the Second World War, Italy has known little peace. Dozens of kingdoms and empires picked at her; only in the 1870s did Italy become a united people once more. So for all those centuries, they looked out on the far horizon with constant uncertainty. In contrast, Americans have rarely, and then only briefly, had to hide behind walled settlements.
Anyway, here is the school in Pietrelcina.
Here is a view of the farms surrounding.
After Mass -- sorry, no pictures, but I was the celebrant! -- we all went off for lunch. I have learned to be adventurous with food, particularly in Italy, where it is almost always so good. So in the street, I approached some gentlemen sitting on a bench, asking guidance on a 'ristorante autentico, non touristico!" After some dickering among themselves, one led me to a particular place. There, I asked the waiter to pick the dish for me. I explained, in broken Italian, I wanted something particular to the region. This was the first plate:
I don't know what it was called, sorry, but it was a kind of potato fritatta, or potato pancake, topped by mushrooms and pork and tomatoes. Mild in flavor, but delicious! Then came this:
It turned out to be pumpkin ravioli!
Sorry for not many details, but my battery is down to 20%. So from Pietrelcina we proceeded to San Giovanni Rotundo, where Padre Pio spent his priesthood. We visited the very modern, very large church here. Not so good, sorry. But we prayed at his tomb, wonderful! No pictures.
Today we went to Mont San Angelo on the coast. More pictures! This shrine is ancient, a site where St. Michael appeared long ago. Here is the church, outside, then inside.
We had Mass at the altar to the right. The whole thing is a cave, and filled with people coming and going. Here is the altar I wanted to use for Mass (with Father Barry Stechshulte of Holy Rosary in St. Mary, the leader of this pilgrimage):
Here is a lovely view of the coast, shrouded in mist:
After this, lunch again. Here are several dishes we ordered. Pizza, Insalata Caprese, and a local dish -- the name is written elsewhere, I can't take time to look it up -- but it was a local dish from Puglia, the region we were in. Again, I invited the waiter to choose; this is what he recommended. It was amazing! Fava beans, cabbage, fennel flowers, bay leaves, pork cheek and potatoes, stewed for three hours. So good!
Perhaps, now that I am caught up, I will have time to post more elevating reports. I have many thoughts I am not writing down, many wonderful experiences. But I am working with my tablet, on my lap in my room, with the battery fading, and I must pray evening prayer. Ciao for now!