I went to a convent school and share Dave Allen’s “gestapo in drag” view of nuns, but the four who live at Eremo delle Allodole (Skylarks), which we come to up a steep path south of Trevi, are nothing like that. In her simple blue dress, thirtysomething Sister Lucia, who answers our ring at the medieval bell, is smiling and non-judgmental, interested to hear about our London lives.
This is an ancient Christian site, founded by missionaries from Syria who stayed in caves here in the fifth century – as, later, did Francis himself. The caves, reached down steps below the chapel, look comfortless to us, but – with their year-round 15C temperature – would have been a refuge from icy winters and summer heat.
As Lucia is talking, a butterfly lands on her arm and stays as if listening – and I think fancifully about Francis preaching to the animals. Leaving to head up the valley, I notice that the birdsong here is especially loud …
Daniela Andrade – Assisi – Provincia di Perugia-Italy