Spirit of Italy - Reflections, Oct. 25, 2007
Fifty members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, led by Bishop Beverly Shamana, toured Italy this month in Spirit of Italy 2007 “to be stirred by God’s heart of creativity while building and deepening relationships as the Body of Christ,” in the words of the Bishop. Tour members experienced the art and architecture inspired by the Christian faith of Italy’s world famous artists, including Da Vinci and Michelangelo, while taking in the sights and sounds of Italy and interacting with the local citizenry.
Bruce Pettit, a member of the Conference Communications Commission, and Chuck Myer, who served as editor of the Connection, took part in the trip and filed a series of entertaining and enlightening stories along the way
Now, as Bruce reflects back on the experience, we learn how difficult it was for them to get those stories to us.
By Bruce Pettit
Chuck, the Internet and I
Europeans do not seem quite so enamored of the Internet as are we Americans. Our first hotel, between
The second hotel, in
At all the hotels, the navigation screens were in Italian and all the hotels’ computers had slightly different keyboard configurations. We had the darndest time finding the “at” (@) key, and the apostrophes and quote marks were in different places on each hotel’s keyboard. Much of our limited online time was spent figuring out these technicalities so that we could connect. We were fortunate to file stories at all, let alone send pictures, had Chuck and I figured out how to do that! [Note: Bruce and Chuck have now provided us with wonderful photo galleries of the trip, which can be viewed online by linking to http://www.cnumc.org/photo_find.asp]
Not like Galileo’s day
We hit nine cities in eight days. We often walked on hard cobblestone in these ancient cities.
Keeping our large group together – with locals and other tours weaving in between us – was a challenge. Bill Marx served as disciplinarian in keeping us moving and together. (In
Souvenir hawkers were all over the place. The worst was in
I had to rescue Ann Spelbos of Rio Linda UMC, who delighted and smiled at everything – an invitation to hawkers to be more “in your face.” It left me with the impression that
Galileo climbed to the top of the
Roz the Romanian
Roz Stone of Woodland UMC gave me the best anecdote in keeping with what this trip was supposed to be, in part – an experience with other cultures.
Roz wanted to go inside the cathedral in
Roz, from her childhood, knew some German. “With my faulty German and their faulty English, we had a nice conversation over 15 minutes,” she said – about where their ancestors came from, and about the schooling of their kids. In
“It was just friendly chit-chat, but their intervention was a nice, Christian gesture.”
What Roz did – intermingling with another group to tour a site – is surely a no-no, but we didn’t get the impact of that until the next day, in
Inside the Galleria dell’ Accademia – where the statue of David is – and other museums, no pictures by the public are allowed because thousands of flashes, day after day, deteriorates the art. As we admired David, two people not of our group intermingled, the better to be shielded – and took pictures. Had the guards noticed, they would have honed in – and blamed our group. The interlopers got away with it.
Then, three days later in
The pigeons of Venice
Merchants sell corn so tourists can experience the novelty. Get corn, and get two pigeons to perch on your shoulder. Hold your arms out with the corn in your hands, and five pigeons will perch on each arm and peck it. Or on your head, to see where the goodies are.
Several of our 51 tried it – among them Tony Lardizabel of Temple UMC, Cathy Taylor of First UMC of Redwood City, and the Rev. Sue Berges of Ely and McGill UMCs. Fellow travelers snapped pictures of their reactions, which ranged from delight to horror.
Venita Jones of Shattuck Avenue UMC in
Castles: a defense against enemies – and the poor
Several Cal-Nevadans went by boat onto
It was outside the old fortress town of
Carol would like to return to Sirmione for a week and stay at one of the hotels near the castle. “Mixing the old with the new would make for a beautiful vacation,” she said.
Castles like this were built for defense - not just against enemy outsiders and other Italian city-states: they also served as places for the rich to retreat against plagues such as the 14th century Black Death. Bishop Ambrose of
Love messages – graffiti, actually – “adorn” the walls near the
Michelangelo lived to be 89 years old, and some say it was because he never had a wife to nag him. Our Roman art guide, Alessandra Recalchi, opined that, more likely, Michelangelo never married because he was always in a bad mood – never more so than the four years he had to paint the Sistine Chapel for Pope Julius II.
Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper is in a church in
Only cars with a special permit may enter downtown
Coffee, anyone? Of course, we Americans want our coffee daily. Except that if you say just “coffee” in
Ely UMC, a church of 60 members (2006 Conference Journal & Yearbook), sent five people on this tour of
Marilyn Trumphour of Rancho Cordova UMC said, “They teach you about all this great art in school, but when you get here, you are overwhelmed.”
Judy Steinbach, also of Rancho Cordova UMC, enjoyed the scenery and “all the different languages I'm hearing. What I don’t like is sitting down to eat.” If seating is outside, particularly with a view of the landscape or of the art, there is an added service charge.
Roz Stone of Woodland UMC still came away without a strong sense of the people of
Willa Rodgers of
The Rev. Sue Berges of Ely and McGill UMCs, “under attack” by hungry pigeons in
Bishop Shamana and her husband, Walter Woods, on Oct. 4 at Sirmione, an ancient town surrounded by a moat, at the tip of a peninsula jutting out into