"And how’s it going with you?
Decide to come and spend a few days here in Pollone,
and so you can learn a bit about the Biella region.”
This was the invitation Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati wrote to his friend Antonio Villani on August 29, 1922. Nearly 84 years later, I received a similar invitation from Pier Giorgio’s niece, Wanda Gawronska. And on August 16, 2006, I arrived in Pollone to learn a bit about the Biella region and as much as I possibly could about Blessed Frassati. What a privilege to learn about him from those who knew him best: his family. Two days after my arrival, I shared a piece of his sister Luciana’s birthday cake as she turned 104 years old! For the next three months, I was immersed in Pier Giorgio’s world, praying at the foot of his bed as he did, climbing the mountains he loved, attending Mass in the presence of his beloved Madonna of Oropa, visiting many of the places he loved to go in Torino, spending time with his sister. It was magnificent and humbling to live in Pier Giorgio's home in Pollone and to fall asleep each night with his sister sleeping soundly overhead.
In 2007, I had the same wonderful opportunity. The stay was bittersweet, however. Just before I was to leave Italy, Luciana Frassati died at the age of 105 in her bedroom in Pollone. It was a privilege to be with her the last few weeks of her life and to attend her funeral. Whenever I return to spend time in Pollone, I miss her presence.
The spirit of Pier Giorgio (and his sister) lives on in Pollone. It is my prayer that each of you will have the opportunity to visit that wonderful place. Until then, these pages are your invitation to come to Pollone, to learn more about Pier Giorgio and, with him, climb heavenward, "verso l'alto," to the top.