Last week I was in England for a family wedding, and while I was on this side of the Atlantic I decided to take a vacation at one of my favorite spots: Podere Capitignano is a hillside retreat in Northern Tuscany. The scholar Michael Aeschliman and his wife Lynn have converted the farm buildings into holiday apartments. The views across the Mugello are wonderful and the peace and quiet are superb.

So yesterday I flew from London and met my sister Donna and her husband Jim in Rome where we rented a car and drove North to Capitignano. On the way we stopped at Orvieto where we visited the cathedral and venerated the corporal with bloodstains–the famous Eucharistic miracle of Orvieto.

After a morning to recover from jet lag we went into the nearby town of Borgo San Lorenzo for coffee and a pastry. Being an inveterate church snooper we looked into the parish church and were delighted to find the darkened church not only open, but open for Eucharistic Adoration. (pictured with this post) The Romanesque architecture is so simple and dignified. Those who are familiar with the new OLR will see how and from what I was inspired. An Indian priest was there to lead the devotions. In the side chapel was a 14th century Madonna and a 13th century crucifix. It is such a pleasure and deep delight to see these artworks in the location for which they were created–in an ordinary parish church. Incredible.

I realize the church in Italy –and in Europe generally are not in a very healthy state, but speaking to the young Indian priest was to realize that the church is still alive and young even though Italy is old and dying. This afternoon we hope to visit the Franciscan friary of Bosco al Frati in Mugello–where St Bonaventure received his call to the cardinalate and there is a beautiful crucifix attributed to Donatello. Other delights of Tuscany are on the menu including a visit to Castle Montegufoni–once owned by the Sitwell family. I’m working on a play about Edith Sitwell, so its a bit of research.