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From Monaco to Umbria and meeting the Pope in Assisi

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Last week we stayed at one of the 12 beautifully restored villas out of a total of 40 farmhouses in Castello di Reschio, a private estate of 2000 acres spreading along the rolling hills of Umbria on the border with Tuscany. Each home is unique and has been created and furnished by Hungarian Count Antonio Bolza and his family, offering a magnificent and tranquil setting amongst olive groves and vineyards.


It was in this area where St. Francis of Assisi preached in the Middle Ages, and in close vicinity we decided to pay a visit to the Papal Basilica of St. Francis on Friday, October 4, only to find out that the Pope was due that same day to make a first pastoral visit and venerate the shrine. Of the saint whose name he shares. HIS Sanctity left Rome around 7:00am by helicopter and we left Reschio by car before dawn and both arrived almost at the same time in Assisi. We lined up on Via San Francesco and after waiting for a couple of hours we saw HIM go by on his way to the Basilica just steps away where thousands were awaiting for the Pope to celebrate Holy Mass. I was able to take photos of him approaching but when he was exactly in front of me I put my camera away and looked directly at the Holy Father who offered us a warm smile. I missed a very good close up photo opportunity but his smiling eyes will forever stay in my heart.

A truly emotional experience to meet someone who has the humility and ambition to restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future and spread love. We left soon after while Pope Francesco continued his visit having lunch with the poor, later gave a speech in the San Rufino Cathedrale, had a private visit of the Basilica of Saint Clare and met the youth congregated in Saint Mary of the Angels, to end up a long day’s journey with a private visit of the Rivotorto Sanctuary, only to depart after sunset.

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