Welcome to Pollone! I hope you will enjoy the view from the villa as much as I am enjoying it here in person. The trip was long but well worth it. I left Nashville at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, September 10th. Two flights, one bus, two trains and one car-ride later, I reached the front gate of the Frassati Villa at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11th. It is beautiful here. I had forgotten how spectacular the sight of the mountains can be.
My room is on the main floor of the villa just to the right of the main staircase. I was in my room unpacking when I heard the voice of Pier Giorgio’s sister and realized she was coming down the stairs. Luciana is 105 years old and always has somebody at her side to walk with her. I was able to take her hand and walk with her on the last few steps and outside to enjoy some of the warm sun. The staircase she descends daily is a reverse staircase with one landing that divides the 32 steps. When Pier Giorgio and Luciana were children, they would hold hands climbing this staircase together. It is one of my favorite places in the villa. I love to go up and down with my hand on the banister and think of the many times Pier Giorgio would have done the same thing. When I reach the first landing after going up about 20 steps, I like to stop and look down onto the main hallway and admire the beautiful chandelier, the family portraits, the large arrangements of hydrangea. Both of the walls leading up the steps feature framed pages of “La Stampa” – the newspaper founded by Pier Giorgio’s father, Alfredo Frassati. At the top of the stairs, I am always comforted by the view of Pier Giorgio’s rooms down at the end of the hall. They are for me an invitation to holiness. To step into his room is to be as close as you can be to him on this earth. His family has made it a point to leave his things in place so that his presence is truly alive.
One of the first things I did was visit Pier Giorgio’s rooms. In the room where he died, I began the novena for all of your intentions. I will pray it every day that I am here. It would be wonderful if you would join me in those prayers and maybe the miracle for Pier Giorgio’s canonization will be granted during this special time. From the window in Pier Giorgio’s room, there is a tremendous view of Mount Mucrone. The large cross on the mountain looks small from down below but can still be clearly seen. (In the above photo, the cross is barely visible; it is just below the plus sign.) There are solar panels on the cross so it can even be seen at night. Pier Giorgio often climbed there to pray. I managed to climb there last year and hope to do it again this month.
Soon I will be leaving to attend daily Mass in the small chapel of the parish church. In the main church, there is a side altar dedicated to Pier Giorgio. In the little chapel, there is just enough room for a small picture of him standing on top of a mountain. It is a tiny chapel with just three small wooden pews, a few folding chairs and a couple of benches along the walls. I love being able to go to Mass in the evening which is the only time you can go here. Daily Mass is at 6:15 p.m. with the rosary (in Italian, of course!) prayed beforehand as soon as the church bells announce that it is six o’clock. The bells from the churches here ring every hour. For the dogs in town, that is the reminder to start their barking. For me, the bells are a reminder of how peaceful life was here when Pier Giorgio came to spend time in the midst of the majestic trees and colorful rose gardens. He called it “peaceful Pollone.” Come once and you will certainly agree. ///cmw