Europe, Part 4.

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I’ll be writing about our recent tour of Europe in several parts. This is part 4.

Clouds and Fog

The Huns were making their way across Italy, leaving behind them a trail of death and destruction. No town in their path was left untouched, no defender left alive. As word of their gruesome acts spread out across the land, thousands of people fled from their ancestral homes in hopes of escaping the horrible fate that surely awaited them at the hands of these merciless invaders. They passed through Modena on their way to seek haven in the higher elevations of the Apennine Mountains, bringing with them their harrowing tales. Once it became clear that the Huns were indeed headed for Modena, a meeting was held to discuss several plans of action: should they stay and fight, join the others in exodus, or pray for protection? After days of debates, a decision was made, and the people of Modena began to gather in the towns’ churches and monasteries. They would pray to God for guidance, and they would pray to Saint Germinianus for protection.

Germinianus had long been the patron saint of Modena, and for generations local people had honored him in prayer and action. In return, Germinianus had blessed the region with fertile fields and protected its people from harm.

And so, they prayed.

As the Huns neared Modena, a blanket of dense fog began to wash over the area. It was so thick that it reportedly seeped under doors and through loose windows. Hands could not be seen in front of faces, and travel became utterly impossible. The Huns, seeing this cloud of fog before them, maneuvered around its edges, and pressed onward, searching for their next conquest. Two days later, with the town safe from its certain destruction and the Huns miles away, the fog dissipated as quickly as it appeared.

It had been a miracle, and Modena had been spared. Saint Germinianus had again extended his favor over the town and it’s people. To this day, he remains the patron saint of Modena.

“Man, that’s an incredible story!”

“Yes, it’s one that I’ve heard for a very long time.”

Countless stories like this had been shared throughout the early morning hours over our small feast on the top of the mountain, each one of them entertaining. We were sitting in the lap of hospitality, surrounded by new friends, fantastic food, and incredible wine. The memories of the 785 were quickly fading into oblivion. This was the formal introduction to Italy I had been searching for. The nearly full moon had cast its pale light across the land surrounding Christians’ home, making the terrain seem more mystical than real. Candlelight danced across the tabletop, flickering wildly with each chorus of laughter and standing motionless and bright during each solitary tale. It was like the set of a movie… except it was real.

The sky to the east began to show familiar signs of life, and we watched as the blanket of stars above our head began to march its way westward. We said our goodnights, and headed back down the mountain towards the hotel to turn in before we had lost what little was left of the darkness.

In the morning, Holly and I walked to the grocery store across the street to pick up a few things. We talked about the incredible wine we shared last night, and how strange it was to be in a familiar store (in layout and goods) in so unfamiliar a land. We returned to the hotel and prepared for our day. It would take a 20-minute drive through the Italian countryside, and a 45-minute drive high into the mountains to the reach the site of our show that night. We loaded our gear into Christian’s car and hit the road, windows rolled down, panoramic views stretched out before us. As we climbed our way up the rocky terrain, we neared closer to the clouds. Any closer, I thought, and we’d be directly in them. We ended our drive at the site of our show, which sat high atop a mountain, but well below the clouds.

There would be no need for clouds or fog today… we weren’t here to pillage.

Just to play.

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