Saturday, April 19, 2008

Da Roma a Cortona

Tanti cari saluti da Cortona! Greetings and best wishes to everyone from the Capuchin Franciscan friary of Le Celle at Cortona in southern Toscana.

I arrived here just before midnight after delays in London, where we competed with 15 other aircraft on our late take-off. Airport closure at Rome for reasons of weather earlier in the day resulted in a backup of incoming traffic.

I picked up a rental at Rome and took the A-1 autostrada north in the direction of Firenze. To shake off a bit of drowsiness I stopped at one of my favorite Italian peculiarities, Autogrill, en route. I drank my first real caffe macchiato since 2006 with a slice of Focaccia topped with white cheese and onions. Arancia rossa orange juice gave me some sugar fuel to better keep my eyes open.

The toll machine ate my credit card when I attempted to make payment upon exiting the autostrada so I had to call for assistance. The attendant opened the machine and retrieved my card for me.

Upon arrival at Le Celle, nestled in the crevices behind the hillside city of Cortona, I had to exercise some ingenuity to get in. I was not able to communicate by phone because my cellphone reads a message that the card is not registered. I will stop today at a "centro TIM" to determine if service can be restored. I haven't jumped a fence for quite some time! I found a light burning in the "cell" of Fra Daniele and he showed me to an unoccupied cell and the bagno. The caffe macchiato continued to do its work very well for at least an hour after I laid down in bed!
San Francesco arrived at this bucolic spot over a stream that issues from the surrounding hills of Tuscany in 1211. He sought solitude but this precious commodity was soon lost to him upon the arrival of his adherents. They all wanted solitude also - but with Francis!
I joined the friars this morning for prayer and holy Mass. After some colazione, or breakfast, of caffe latte and biscotti I am posting this trip entry and then must get on my way again to reach my destination of Verona, God willing, in time for cena this evening, or dinner, with friends.
As the friars greet one another, so I greet you in parting for now: "Pace e bene!"

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