Cortona, Day 3 – sleepy time….

The bells rang out about 8 this morning, I could have sworn I heard singing – which would not be that far-fetched given a church right behind us has a daily, 8am mass with singing nuns.  Ah, the recovered Catholic in me isn’t sure what to think.

After a yummy breakfast prepared by Norman, and a quick jaunt downtown for a cappuccino.  We all rallied to climb to the top of the mountain (we are already pretty high up) to see the Santa Margherita church – housing a mummified nun in a glass case for all to come and pay respects.  Being in a catholic church was surreal for me.  The second I walked through the door the incense hit me and I was transported back to my own years of worship.  We did not attend a classic or old-American style Catholic church, ours was pretty modern, no confessionals, contemporary crucifixes and interpreted host.  Regardless, the confessionals, the offerings it was pulling on me.  When I actually stood at the altar to admire the beauty of the church…I could not help but feel like I was committing a great sin being at the altar.  I wandered to the back of the church and saw the holy water.  I actually contemplated genuflection and perhaps confess my sins (it’s been at least 24 years, that would be a frickin’ lot of Hail Mary’s).  The nun watching over the church started pointing at people in the sanctuary, directly pointing, hiss and indicate we needed to line up.  My first thought was a tour – but I wasn’t part of that group over there….  She continued to hiss in my direction so I went over.  We were all lead out the back of the church into the sun.  Oh….so a service was about to begin and we were not welcome.  Got it….  Very, very, very weird feelings.

We then walked up to the Fortress Girifalco, stunningly beautiful.  To think that armies used to live there and watch out over the valley for invaders.  That I’m in a country that has more history in this one little town than all of the United States.  Someone remarked about what it would take a build a fort like that, with all the stone, at the very top of the mountain.  Slave labor.  Ugh!

We had a local chef in to make us a fabulous and delicious meal this evening.  We started with some fried veggies and a white wine.  There is nothing as good as battered and fried food – yet this was exceptional!  There was eggplant, zucchini, zucchini blossoms – but the best were the sage leafs.  Which were HUGE!  Then on to antipasti, bread, homemade pasta (that we each rolled out) in a simple olive oil, basil and fresh tomato sauce.  Incredibly rich – I have never tasted pasta so rich before.  I didn’t finish my plate!  The carnivores then had roasted chicken.  I was not tempted in the least even though taunts of “it tastes just like bacon” came out from just about everyone!  Dessert was a freshly made tiramisu – we all agreed that a proper tiramisu (as Chef Ivan agreed) should not contain any alcohol.  Of course,  much wine was consumed as well.

Now I’m gearing down for the evening – as we are planning to attend mass tomorrow to hear the nuns sing.  I’m hoping for a better internal response to sitting through a mass.  I think I shall be very quiet to hear what my head, heart and soul have to say about that.


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