0541 The Fransiscan Festival (Ita 060â€”new)
Reggio Emilia Travel Blog› entry 166 of 201 › view all entries
I reach Reggio Emilio after dark-- but hopefully Iâ€™ll be able to find the hostel thatâ€™s supposed to be in the
I wander down the vacant streets and through a huge park to the edge of the
It doesnâ€™t look like a hostel. Thereâ€™s just a little plaque that marks it on an enormous gateway. I ring the doorbell hoping Iâ€™m not too late. Someone opens the door and lets me in. Thereâ€™s a beautiful courtyard, long columned porticos and fresco paintings on the ceiling above the vast stairway.
My guess is this used to be a monastery.
Sure enough-- and now itâ€™s been turned into one of the coolest 15 Euro hostels Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€¦ You can walk down the long arch ceiling halls and still get a feel for what it must have been likeâ€¦
Iâ€™m very lucky to find a bed. There is a big Fransiscan festival going on and monks from all over are gathering for the eventâ€¦ so basically, the place has been turned back into a monastery for a couple of days!
That evening I get to talking with an Italian fellow out in the courtyard. Heâ€™s from south
He explains a bit more about the divide between north and south. See
Two very different worlds in this one countryâ€¦ A very insightful discussionâ€¦
Then next day I head out to check out this Fransiscan festival thing.
Over to the side, a Protestant group is methodically shoving a pamphlet into the hand of every passerby, and a couple of Mormon missionary are prowling about, looking for strays-- but clearly the monks own the show todayâ€¦
I figure itâ€™s a good opportunity to learn first hand about this unusual subculture, that seems like a relic from another era. Itâ€™s like all of a sudden, the Middle Ages come back to life-- and this is not re-enactment-- itâ€™s the real thingâ€¦
I approach a monk that looks Mexican and ask him if he speaks Spanishâ€¦ sure enoughâ€¦ He tells me how he felt the â€ścallingâ€ť to be a monk and how his whole family-- who are Catholicsâ€”turned against himâ€¦ He told me about their vows, about the living in community and that, yes, itâ€™s a lifelong thingâ€¦
A little later, another Italian monk approaches me and starts telling me his story, a similar one, of how his life felt empty before and how heâ€™s found fulfilment in this new life, despite the criticism of his familyâ€¦
I finally head on my way, not quite sure what to think of the whole rather surreal encounter with the Fransiscans there in the