After our two days and nights on the Via Francigena in Val d'Aosta, Estela and I took our van and drove south on the Autostrada A5, leaving the mountainous terrain of Aosta, that opened up onto a expansive plain as we entered Piedmont. As we left Val d'Aosta, instead of heading east, following the Via Francigena as we went past Ivrea, and going in the direction of Santhiá on the E25, we continued on A5 going straight southwards, towards Torino in order to experience La Santa Sindone, or Holy Shroud as it is called here.
Estela ordered a plate of
After our final castle tour at Verrés in Val d'Aosta, we were running late to catch lunch, so when it was past 1:30 and we were still a good 20 minutes drive away from Torino, I saw an exit sign to get off the Toll Road, at a town by the name of San Giorgio. As we came off the exit ramp, I asked the man at the toll booth, "Can you suggest a place to eat?" He answered, "300 feet behind me, on the other side of the road." Two minutes later we were sitting down for an unforgettable lunch.
Rigatoni with tuna fish.
You might question, rightly so, what relevance does this little adventure have in a blog dedicated to such solemn themes as those of "Faith" and "Art". My best retort would be that our pilgrimages are at best a quest to follow in the footsteps of a Galilean Prophet of 2000 years ago, who after preaching, worried that His listeners would be hungry, so He multiplied bread and fish to feed their bodies. And before he left his beloved Apostles, He organized for them a Last Supper. So we do things His Way or hit the Highway.
A deliciously stewed pork shaft
"arrosto di maliale"
We do not come to Italy just for the food. Food is just more than another component of a total cultural experience. As a country, Italy has problems: economical, social and political. Yet as a culture, they take eating serious. For the Italian people, Food is Art, something not to be taken lightly, something men do. as well as women. If for no other reason, we should consider the Italians today are the most advanced civilization on earth.
This was a chocolate filled cake,
warm and fresh out of the oven
just in time for our desert.
As I sipped on my espresso, thanking God for such a sumptuous meal and for having the opportunity to share such a nice experience with my wife, I thought about the upcoming visit to Torino, and on to the Holy Shroud, and I felt that somehow pilgrims from centuries before were all suddenly our companions, and shared in our joy of making this journey with them. In our Catholic Faith, we have a belief in the Mystical Body of Christ, to which we all are a part of, believers past, present and future. My mother was born on November 1st, All Saints Day, so in our family, the concept of the Communion of Saints was something we always believed in and cherished.
When you make your next pilgrimage, don't forget to bring along the Communion of Saints. Saints make good travel companions!