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Showing posts from September, 2015

Philly When the Pope's in Town

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For a vibrant, world-class city, Philly has a bit of an inferiority complex.  How could it not, in the twin shadows cast by those heavyweights, Washington D.C. and New York City?  

Maybe that's why Rocky Balboa resonates so much here.  The scruffy, down-on-his-luck prizefighter who gets one shot at the big time?  That was us this weekend, when the World Meeting of Families brought Pope Francis to our city.




For Catholics and the many non-Catholics who admire this Pope for his vision, his humility, his heart, and his willingness to shake things up, Philly was--for a shining moment--Caput Mundi.  

Here's what you experienced if you braved the Popepocalypse:

--Deliciously car-free streets.

--Singing in unexpected places.

--Pilgrims from around the globe.



--A rainbow of habits, vestments, and robes.




--Bobbleheads and Hug-a-Popes:




Families:




Enthusiastic college students:



--Eager but remarkably civil crowds.




Seriously beefed-up security:




--including Secret Service agents and even rooftop snipers.


Flashback: In Fair Verona

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A friend recently asked me where in the whole world  I would live if money and job were no object.  I didn’t have to think hard about the answer: Verona, Italy.

Until last summer, I’d only been there once before, on my very first trip to Europe, when I was 22, travelling solo with a backpack, a Eurail pass, and an International Youth Hostel Card.  I fell instantly in love with Europe in general and Italy in particular.  



And of all the Italian cities and towns I visited, Verona--charming, romantic, easily crossed on foot—struck me as the one in which I could most vividly imagine making a life.




I adored the medieval streets of its historical center.  I especially loved the way Verona’s citizens take their evening passagiata around the Roman colosseum in the center of Piazza Bra.  




Families strolling, small children kicking balls around, friends laughing and philosophizing, lovers arguing and embracing.  The happy commotion that continues until late into every summer night.




On that first tr…