On the Sunday after the elections, an outing had been planned for those of us who wanted to visit the small town of Cori and the Ninfa gardens in the Lazio region, south of Rome.
The weather forecasted rain but to our surprise, as we waited for the bus, the rain stopped. All along the way, the sky and the mountains were covered with clouds, but as we approached the province of Latina, where Cori is located, the clouds started to dissipate. On the way we saw some small towns on the hilltops. Sr Gisela had prepared maps and directions on what to see in Cori. When we arrived, spontaneous groups formed and we set off in different directions to discover the old town, which already existed 350 years before Christ. Its narrow, medieval streets were decorated with banners, flags and exterior window hangings of the Virgin Mary. All this, together with the call of the bells, told us that there was a festival. The cobbled streets were adorned with flowers in pots, copper vases and reeds at the doors and windows. Among the Italians, who were going up the hill, there were Sikh, Arab and Asian families who were also going in the direction of the feast and the Church of Our Lady. People dressed in festive, medieval or traditional dresses made it clear that the festival was for everyone. As we walked up the hill, many people greeted us and told us what was interesting to visit. Climbing up the narrow streets was an opportunity for continuous discovery and wonder at the many nooks and crannies, beautiful houses, churches, pre-Roman and Greek temples. The wax marks on the pavement indicated that a procession had taken place that morning. Around St Peter’s church we discovered a festive atmosphere, and there we met other MSOLA groups. On the way down to the bus, looking out over the valley, we shared the joy and appreciation of every moment of the visit.
In the afternoon, the bus took us to the Ninfa gardens. On the way we discovered vineyards and huge plantations of kiwis, cherries and olive trees. The gardens are beautiful, a preserved ecosystem built on the ruins of the medieval town of Ninfa in the Pontine marshes. It is now declared a natural monument by the Lazio region. The gardens show how ruins can be transformed into an ecosystem where life abounds for all kinds of animals and plants thanks to the many transparent springs that emerge from the ground and give life to this fantastic place.
We admired all kind of beautiful and colourful flowers, roses climbing on huge cypresses, spectacular trees, magnolias, birches, Japanese maples, cherry trees full of cherries, poplars, bamboos and even tropical plants. In the springs emerging from the ground, we could occasionally perceive a bubble, the only sign of a spring of water. We had to be attentive to see them, just as we have to be attentive to our inner source to feel the life that springs up within us.