The big event of the week was the arrival of Mark and Naomi and babies in-utero from Jerusalem Saturday evening. The good news was that Sr. Angela said she was happy to pick them up by car, accompanied by Rory. The bad news was that she is not particularly capable of finding her way when she is talking, and that is most of the time. I did not feel inclined to tell her that we should be exiting the highway at the airport sign, as it seemed presumptuous of me to assume she did not know where she was going. Wrong. And, once one misses this particular exit, there is NO GOING BACK. Forced by traffic and design, we ended almost in Ostia before making a turn back towards the airport, a good half an hour later. Mark had the wherewithall to borrow a cell phone from a friendly Italian to check our whereabouts, one hour later than expected. “Almost there!” was not acomplished until we had done a European Vacation-style round and round and round a round-about (you get the picture), a left turn from the right lane, and much yelling through windows by the sister. With some clever manuveuring by the two of us, we managed to avoid a huge traffic backup and gather the Jerusalem pilgrims in record time once inside the airport. Traffic in Rome is noteworthy! (posted by Rory)
Sr. Angela rightly insists that, despite being situated in Rome, we are not tourists. We are meant to be preparing for work in remote and impoverished places. Our weekdays are mostly taken up with formation in Canossian spirituality, prayer, chores, shopping, cooking, and language study.
On the other hand, after the Saturday cleaning, the rest of the weekend is ours, and after all, we are in Rome…!
Saturday we visited St. John Lateran, one of the four major basilicas here. Dating back to Constantine, its visual glory is overwhelming. The pictures I took are somewhat disappointing, if not misleading, but here are a few.
Because there will be only a couple of opportunities to do something with Mark and Naomi outside of Rome, we had tentatively penciled in a daytrip to Assisi for Sunday, pending their approval. Our intrepid visitors were game, and we began our latest misadventure. Our first mistake was in thinking that the 20 minutes we had before the train left was enough time to have a relatively leisurely breakfast and bathroom pitstop. Not so. One thing led to another, and at 7:43, the departure time, we breathlessly re-grouped at Track 2, waiting for a surprisingly late train to show up. Mistake two. The reason that there was no train was that we were at the wrong Track 2 and the correct one was several hundred meters away! We missed the train. After this unfortunate fact sank in, we set about recovering what we could of the day. Meghan knew of another place to go – a medieval hill town in Tuscany called Cortona. And we could make the train if we hurried. We nearly had an instant replay of the first mishap but with serious jogging managed to catch it.
And so began a wonderful outing, complete with Mass in the local parish church, an outdoor lunch under a grape arbor at a nearby restaurant, a steep two mile hike to get to the old city perched high above the plain, and gelatos. We were totally spent by the time we trudged up the hill to the VOICA house late that evening, but quite content with a day well-spent among the cobbles and facades of medieval Italy. Next Sunday we’ll get it right and see Francis’ and Clare’s Assisi. (posted by David)