Monday, April 21, 2008
Verona is a city for romantics because of the fame of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". Many ask to see the "house of Juliet" here. The Veronese, loathe to break any hearts, will rarely own that Juliet never lived here. Although Verona does have many stories of love to tell.
In the cathedrals of God which are the mountains and the cathedrals of men such as is found with the Duomo here, there is much to discover for those who love the Faith. The Lago di Garda, or lake Garda, nestles, a "baptismal font", in the basin formed by the surrounding crags. These stone pinnacles, the pre-Alps, are close by to the north and can be viewed from everywhere in the city. The cathedral where we celebrated 0930 Mass in Latin Sunday is a monument to the talents with which God blesses us, as the hand-carvings above in stone arches, and all around the worshipper, are complemented by the festooning of frescoes.
Saturday we spent some time viewing Palladian estates and touring the Recchia family winery and sampling vintages for which this region is justly famous such as Bardolino, Amarone and Soave. Sunday was dedicated to a "giro" or tour in the old city center followed by a trip to the mountains for a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Madonna della Corona, or the crowned madonna, visited by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Here, as if meeting once again in Christ God and Man, the gift of God Creator is accepted and raised up in a tribute of love, gratitude and praise by men in this shrine carved in part from the mountain rock.
Sunday night I supped with friend Andrea, his wife Elisa and son Paolo whom I had the privilege of baptizing two years ago. Penne pasta was served with a red sauce amatriciana made with pancetta, much like bacon. We drank a bardolino, from a shop in Lazise, a walled town on the shores of Lake Garda.
This morning I was interviewed by priest-journalist, Msgr. Bruno Fasani, regarding my experiences in Iraq. I met him at the Duomo and we chatted at a caffe over cappucino and crociante pastry.
I am writing from Vicenza where I have stopped briefly en route to Padova. I am glad I brought a raincoat as today it is raining "cani e gatti"!
Photos, from top: friends Paolo, Andrea and Elisa; image of Madonna della Corona; the Lazise harbor on Lake Garda; the walls of Lazise; mustard field; Verona and mountains; Palladian estate winery; Luca Recchia and Andrea Stenghetto in the cantina of Recchia family winery; Verona fountain; sanctuary of Madonna della Corona.