Here are some pictures from the first day of our vacation up North. We stopped about halfway at the Santuario della Verna, an estate that was given to St. Francis of Assisi by a rich nobleman. The Franciscan order got its start here and today it is still an active monastery and guesthouse.
This is the old ice-house made out of stones, set into the earth to keep ice frozen all year long.
There is an abundance of Della Robbia sculptures sprinkled throughout the buildings. Luca Della Robbia developed an ingenious ceramic glaze which allowed his sculptures to be displayed outdoors, and preserved the brilliance of the colors for centuries. This one of the Pieta` looks like it was glazed yesterday!
In the chapel we visited the side chapel where there are many relics connected with the life of St. Francis. Even though I wasn't able to get any good close-up shots, in the various reliquaries there are such things as his chalice, fork and spoon, cilice, cane and hand towel
This is the habit he was wearing when he received the stigmata, and is the one in which he was buried.
Another Della Robbia, this time of the Transfiguration. These were huge pieces!
A view of the surrounding countryside from the top of the mountain where the Santuario is.
The cell of St. Francis, now converted into a tiny chapel.
Natural beauty abounded on the mountain, including spectacular rock formations. This is a massive boulder that juts out. You can see Augustin underneath it for a size comparison.
A crevice in the rock where St. Francis would sleep sometimes.
This is the cell where St. Anthony of Padua stayed when he visited. Like St. Francis' cell, it too has been converted into a chapel.
The foundation of the monastery, set onto a rocky precipice.
The inlaid wooden choir stalls in the monastery chapel where St. Francis received the stigmata.
This marks the actual spot where he received it.
Another even more colorful Della Robbia.
Alex standing in the courtyard in front of the monastery.
And here are mom and Philomena getting ready to enjoy a delicious lunch in the monastery restaurant.
A group shot of everyone except yours truly, standing in the passage way that leads out of the monastery.