You can go all the way up to the high hilltop village of Fiesole on the bus for one euro. One euro to sail out of town, up where the air smells like bay leaves and the city spreads out below, up to a small town of steep charming streets with names like via Francesco Poeti and via La Cipressa. The other side of the town overlooks valleys cultivated over the centuries with blue-grey olive orchards, black cypress,ochre and salmon colored villas and the crop patterns of fields. When the clouds are traveling they throw dark blue shifting shadows that make you catch your breath for their beauty.
Are you with me? Photos can’t reproduce the sense of unfolding spaces, softly receding hills and mountains and the loving care taken with the land over the years.
So, my friend Maria and I were on a mission to see a little known church called Fonte Lucente, which means Fountain of Light. I had trekked to this simple church twice over the years and tried to contact someone in charge. I had heard that the water flowed right in the chapel and that it was reputed to have healing properties. But it was always closed, open only at 10am on Sundays for services. On this Sunday, Maria and I intended to go to mass there. What better way to see a church than when it is doing what it does best.
From the bus stop to the church is a very steep descent along the side of a hill. Fifteen minutes later we stood in front of a plain building with a portico of three arches. The priest drove up as we entered. There, on the right just off of the central nave, was a small grotto carved from the rock of the hillside. Along the wall water slid into a small carved basin on the floor.
I collected some of this water, said to be sacred and with healing properties in my glass water bottle. Sadly, during the week following, I forgot that this was special water, and I drank it. The good part is that I had a sinus infection at the time, and it went away. Thank you, Fonte Lucente.
Twice a year I make a pilgrimage to Florence to drink in the centuries of beauty and to lead little tour groups to my favorite places. This is another way I raise money for the AACDP. If you care to join me I will be taking small groups of five in March and October 2016.