On all the tours there is one experience and story that really has an impact — this night at Santuario S. Maria del fonte is it.
Lights out at 10 p.m. sharp. It was a peaceful sleep. Per my direction I said I would arise at 6 a.m.
I was quiet even with all the wood doors; they must close every hallway door at night. I could hear my cleats on the marble stairs echo though the halls.
I gently sealed one more door before scooting to my bike, held safely overnight in the yard, and then a nun in full white habit steps out.
She was a larger nun and amazingly stealth for her size. Her hands were folded under her robe and she looked stern. It was a little Steven Spielberg but in a Sound of Music sort of way.
“Bonjourno,” she said in full voice, like it was time for everyone else to get up anyway.
It was Sister Armanda. All the nuns must have been put on notice about the house guest.
She rattles off some cheerful Italian and then mimes sleep putting her hands together and resting them under a head tilt. “Si, si buono, ” I reply. Then she points to the door and says “bicicletto, ” then shoes me away.
I reorganize and am soon rolling out the rig. Sister Armanda is at the door. I take a moment to pass her a note and a donation for the night. She takes the note. “Italiano!” she said with enthusiasm. I had Googled English-to-Italian translation the night before and wrote a thank you note they would understand. Then I forced the money and said, “donation.”
“Coraggioso” (courageous), she said, holding her arms up for effect.
Sister shuffled to the double wood doors . I noticed she wore support stockings and her swollen feet tested the seams of her slippers.
“Ciao,” she said with a hearty so-long waive. I walked my bike to the gated entrance.
|Early morning street sweeper|
The street sweeper was already noisily on duty and the church bells were ringing out a crisp hymn. The sun cast a bright yellow brush across the trees and the gold cross atop the sanctuary stood watch on another new day.
I love Italy. That is all.