We are not going to Rome or to Venice on this trip. We are eschewing most major tourist sites this month in favor of getting to know our local neighborhood. This decision – not so lightly made for me as for Mary who has often left the beaten path on past trips – has yielded rewards.
One day, we came across a very small chapel where an ironwork grill protected an altar with the Virgin Mary. We were able to discern that every Monday in May, at 9 p.m., there is a gathering at this chapel.
Last night, we left our house at 7:45 p.m. – in time to get a gelato before the deli closed – and walked up to the chapel, wondering what, if anything, would happen. Shortly before 9 – as a full moon rose above the hills – three women arrived, opened the gate and chatted as they swept out the chapel.
We could hardly leave without trying to understand – and besides wouldn’t it be odd for us to sit and stare? – so we introduced ourselves and in our scrambled Italian learned that the chapel had been built in memory of one woman’s grandmother. She and her neighbors gather to say a rosary on Monday’s in May.
A local experience that was personal and precious. And I expect our presence will be a memory for our neighbors.
Today, we biked to another village. Only 5 kilometers away, Guamo will host an art festival this weekend. We wanted to check it out in advance.
After stopping at the church (of course), we took off on what we thought was the way out of town. The road wound higher into the hills, past vineyards, workmen on lunch break, and hikers. Eventually, asphalt turned to gravel and finally dead-ended in private yards. When we turned around to retrace our path, we were looking right at a Roman viaduct that stretched across the valley.
We had taken the road less traveled. And as Robert Frost says, ‘that has made all the difference.