This year we took full advantage of living in Italy and went to the Pope’s Church for Easter! Only, it wasn’t in Vatican City and it wasn’t the current Pope. But it was still his church! If I may explain…
Jen and Julia in front of the church in Canale D’ Agordo
If you’ve read a few posts (or know us), you’ll know that we’ve been fortunate enough to live in Jen’s parent’s condo while in Italy. Even more fortunate is that Jen’s Zio (Uncle) Franco and Zia (Aunt) Claudia live above us. This means we’re eaten countless meals upstairs (she’s a wonderful cook), have built in baby sitters, tour guides and translators… basically we have a third set of parents and new besties.
Franco and Claudia both have interesting life stories. We’ll save his for another post.
Claudia was born and raised in Canale D’ Agordo – a town in the Dolomite Mountains, one of the most spectacular places on earth. The Dolomites are a large mountain range in northeast Italy. In 2009 the Dolomiti were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that the mountains are a site with significant importance (and beauty) and are therefore, protected. Interestingly enough, I have just now learned that Italy is home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any country in the world. After living here a short time, I cannot say that I am surprised.
Canale is in a valley surrounded by two mountains
Beautiful scenery at every turn
A statue stands near the center of town
The pedestrian bridge leading into town
We’ve been coming to Italy for many years with Jen’s family and I have always wanted to see the Dolomites. I have a strong love for the mountains, most likely due to my love of skiing. I have always been excited to see the Dolomites because they were bound to be at least a little more special than Sugarloaf or Wisp Mountains. They did not disappoint!
Canali D’ Agordo in the foreground of the Dolomiti mountains
Each year, Franco and Claudia spend several weeks together in each of their respective hometowns. Luckily for us – she invited us to join them for part of their trip, over the Easter weekend. This was great because we had no idea what we were going to do for Easter. We were also excited because her town, Canale D’ Agordo was the home to Pope Giovanni Paolo I (Pope John Paul I). Let that sink in for a moment… her small town of roughly 1,000 people was the hometown of the Pope. That’s like saying, “yeah… the President used to live right next to me… here’s his house” Only, he’s not just the leader of a single nation, but rather the spiritual leader of the world.
Pope Giovanni Paolo I – a hometown hero
Pope Giovanni Paolo I has an interesting history. He has the unusual honor of being the shortest reining Pope in history – just 33 days as Sovereign of Vatican City. He is also the most recent Italian-born Pope. It is widely whispered, even today – that his death was not due to natural causes (if you’re a fan of conspiracy theories, you can click HERE to read a few). This cloud of mystery and short reign does nothing to dispel the love and connection that people of Canale and Italy feel for Giovanni Paolo I, The Smiling Pope. In fact, the very next Pope adopted the name of Giovanni Paolo II, to honor and respect his predecessor.
Albino Luciano (as was his given name) was ordained a priest in 1935 and served for a time as the parish priest for the town church (also, one of the main churches in the region), Parraocchia di Canale D’ Agordo, the church you see pictured below.
Parraocchia di Canale D’ Agordo – a 550+ year old church
Jen and Julia in front by the town fountain
We arrived in Canale on Saturday – just in time for a wonderful lunch at Claudia’s home (the home where she was raised). Then she left us to walk around town as she went to help clean the church for Easter’s big service. We walked around the wonderful town, and bumped into about 30 of her cousins along the way.
Julia ridin in style with one of Claudia’s cousins
Julia strikes a pose
On Easter Sunday, we attended a wonderful service (where we understood everything that was said in Italian) in the Pope’s Church, Parracchia di Canale.We walked the short 200 yards back to our beautiful hotel, where the Easter Bunny had left Julia a surprise.
Our hotel on the right
We had her Easter basket ready for her
“What’s that up there?! Is that for ME?!”
“A soccer ball?! Well, I’ll just take this.”
“Don’t worry, I got THIS pops”
“I told you I got this!”
She loved her soccer ball, until she saw her chocolate chick
Which she loved so much, it’s head fell off!
“Here, Nonno Franco – take a bite. Please, it’s my pleasure”
Afterward we went to the town square, where they had set up an outdoor festival. We danced, we ate and we drank.
The festival in the main piazza (town square)
Coin tossing competition – you try to toss your coin into an egg
The winner is the person that sticks the most coins in the eggs
Julia “chill-axing” at the festival
Later in the day, we went to one of Claudia’s cousin’s (another cousin) restaurants and enjoyed some more delicious food.
We started with some antipasti
We each ended with a wonderful dessert
Even Julia got dessert out of a cup featuring her new favorite cartoon (Barbarapappa)