There is a sign on the highway, SS448, to point the unwary in the direction of this little hideaway. The sign to the isolated chapel is not too terribly visible which is nice because if you are here you know something not known to many.
The main road perched above the timeless Tiber River was only built in the early 1960's when I was a child. Before that development this valley was almost inaccessible to the outside world.
The road was quite a feat of engineering.
But it turns out the engineers have been at work down in the valley too. When I used to walk through the woods to this Little Easter chapel this road was little more than a wide trail.
We parked our car up at the main road because I had no idea the trail had been widened and smoothed and made passable. "It's a nice walk," my ever supportive wife grunted in the late afternoon heat.
It took a bit but we got there.
I was reminiscing about how much things have changed and how cute and lost in space and rime this little place used to be when a Godly figure stepped out. Bloody hell, things have changed, no one used to live here.
"I'm here on a retreat, to spend some time as a hermit," Brother Giancarlo smiled, leaving me stuttering apologetically about disturbing him. My wife was panting and muttering something about a glass of water but unluckily for her he spoke no English, and even more unluckily for her I was too stunned to translate for her.
He gave us a tour of the chapel dedicated to what Italians call the "little Easter" or Pasquarella. Many communities celebrate this holiday at the end of Christmas festivities but as I recall we used to celebrate Mass here the Sunday after Easter. Why? I haven't a clue and in those days no one encouraged me to ask questions.
It's a pretty spot deep in the woods, a place of peace and contemplation. It's so charming it almost makes you want to join the cheerful friar and become a catholic again and believe in nonsense again. But time has passed and age and aggravation have replaced innocence and contraception still makes more sense than immaculate conception.
The good friar gave us a quick tour of the interior of the chapel which for some reason I felt shy about photographing and off we clumped. The friar followed us a few minutes later,something about having to go into town to pick up a forgotten trifle. My wife was emanating loud vibes at that point, possibly in reference to the large bottle of water he was carrying under his arm. I dare say she was also thinking about a ride out of this delightful place but our hermitical friar was having none of it. Off he drove with a cheerful wave but without us and with his bottle of water intact.
To add to our mid summer flagellation we had to walk out past the water pumping station, of all things, built here with European Union funds. You'd think they could have put in a faucet for the comfort of distressed pilgrims.
No such luck.
"I cannot believe we walked in here without a bottle of water," my wife muttered. Had she been a lesser woman she might have blamed me for her distress. As it was we just enjoyed the view.
Now ask yourself this: how can there not be a God to create such lovely formerly hidden spots on this burned-out planet of ours?
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