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A Moveable Feast: Holy Year of Mercy pilgrimage UPDATED

Buongiorno a tutti! That greeting can mean only one thing: I am heading back to Italy on a Holy Year of Mercy pilgrimage for another fantastic combination of great food, beautiful scenery, and spiritual inspiration, and this time our chaplain will be my good friend and vicar general for the Diocese of Albany, Father David Berberian. Bonus: Our beloved tour guide from last October, Isabella, has signed on for this pilgrimage, so we will be in the very best hands.

We’ll be hitting some of the highlights from my last pilgrimage, with the addition of some must-see cities we missed the first time around. Here’s the brief run-down of where our Holy Year of Mercy Food & Faith in Italy tour will take us between May 15-26, 2016: Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Orvieto, Assisi, Siena, Bologna, the Emilia Romagna region, Padua, and Venice. Read more

A Moveable Feast: Coffee and wine and beer, oh my

To tide you over until I can pull all the Assisi photos together for posts on Monday and Tuesday, here are some shots of the many wonderful beverages you’ll find as you travel across Italy.

This is, of course, just a sampling of what we had. Multiply what you see here by 13, the number of days were were traveling. Even on the plane (Alitalia), wine is free and free-flowing. It’s a beautiful thing. So many beverages, so little time. Read more

A Moveable Feast: finding family far from home

It’s been almost three weeks since I returned from Italy, and I still haven’t managed to write any posts about the experience or trade my Euro for U.S. currency. That changes today. Well, the writing part does, at least. I’m holding onto the Euro as seed money for the next pilgrimage.  I’ll try to serve up several Moveable Feast posts in days to come about various cities and favorite moments from our fabulous pilgrimage. To get us started, here’s my latest Life Lines column…

It’s interesting how, even when we’re far from our loved ones and friends, we often find ways to create family right where we are, without blood connections, without a shared history. Whether we’re students living in a college dormitory, workers temporarily assigned to a far-off location, or pilgrims traveling in a strange land, we tend to seek out community, a place where we feel accepted and protected, or at least a little less alone. Read more

Pilgrimage: A journey of the heart and soul

It’s easy to romanticize the idea of a pilgrimage, to turn it into something larger than life, something we think we can experience only when have the money, time and stamina to travel to a far-off country to see one of the great spiritual sites. We imagine Lourdes, the Holy Land, Rome, Assisi, and file our pilgrimage plans away on some sort of spiritual bucket list.

But the reality is that true pilgrimage doesn’t require a passport. In fact, it doesn’t really require any travel at all. True pilgrimage is as much an interior journey as a geographical one. If we approach our entire lives with a pilgrim mindset, we can find places that will feed our hearts and spirits just about everywhere we turn – from the little shrine in the next town to the cathedral in our diocese to that historic church near our favorite vacation spot. Read more

Italy: Five weeks and counting…

Five weeks from today, our Italy: A Feast for Body and Soul pilgrimage will depart from JFK airport bound for Rome. The 40 of us will spend 13 days making our way from the beautiful spa town of Montecatini to Florence, Siena, Assisi, Rome, Naples, Salerno, the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense (the small town where my grandfather was born), and finally to the Isle of Capri. I know how fast these next few weeks will go with start-of-school events and work deadlines to meet before leaving. It’s going to be here before I know it.  Read more

In the footsteps of St. Benedict…

In honor of the Feast of St. Benedict, I thought I would re-post my Time Union reflection on my trip to the Monastery of St. Benedict in Subiaco, Italy, four years ago. 

With a breathtaking valley stretching out below and an ancient monastery clinging to the cliffs above, Subiaco, Italy, feels as though it is a world away from the chaotic streets of Rome, only 40 miles to its west. And, in a sense, it is.

Steeped in history that stretches back to the Roman Empire and the earliest centuries of the Roman Catholic Church, Subiaco is a place out of time, giving visitors a chance to step into the very same cloisters, caves and gardens that were once home to ancient saints and medieval monks. Read more

Rome via iMessage: Next best thing to being there

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of my husband and the wonder of iMessage (free texts between Apple devices), I have been traipsing around Rome for the past few days. The journey has felt so real I’m expecting a blister on my foot at any moment. Throughout Dennis’ weeklong trip to Rome, he has kept me in the Italian loop almost every step of the way. Literally. (And I don’t take that whole “literally” thing lightly, trust me.) Read more

Italy 2014: Food-faith pilgrimage is filling up fast. Sign up today!

It’s hard to believe that in just about six months we’ll be departing for Rome on our 13-day food-faith pilgrimage, Italy: A Feast for Body and Soul. Since I last updated you, we’ve had an exciting development. In addition to a great group of people from throughout the New York-New Jersey region, with a few from more far-flung places, we will also have a priest traveling with us. My good friend Msgr. William Benwell, vicar general of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., has signed up as a pilgrimage participant but has agreed to say Mass every day for those who would like to attend. In addition, his knowledge of Siena, Assisi, and Rome is like getting an added spiritual bonus. We are blessed to have him coming along with us.  Read more

Italy 2014: Order coffee like an Italian

So you’re going to Italy and you want to know how to order a coffee. Okay, well, first things first. If you ask for coffee, “un caffé,” you will get an espresso. It will be “short” and dark and may have a lovely golden rim around it. If you want something more akin to what you drink at home, you could ask or caffé americano or caffé lungo, and they’ll water down your espresso, but why would you want to do that? Caffé macchiato is an espresso “stained” with a little milk. Read more