Patron Saint of Lost Causes 

A good friend of mine moved away, and told me that he kept seeing all of his loved ones doppelgängers because he was homesick. He said mine was an Asian chick on a bicycle in China town. I told him that’s the problem with travel- you leave pieces of your heart everywhere. Part of my heart is in Italy, at each of the street shrines. 

This one was in an alley in Bellano as we climbed down the mountain from our airbnb. The worn paint makes me think about how the things we love don’t have to be shiny and new- they get scars from our love, from our handling. 

The outside of this is so pretty, but it completely conceals the little statuette inside, and that made me sad. I don’t think anything should be so pretty on the exterior that the interior doesn’t also get to shine through. 

Both of these shrines were along a hiking path that crossed the mountains between Bellano and Verrano. One even had a tiny water fountain next to it for hikers to drink from. It was so remote- such a strange spot for someone to place not one but two of these altars. Someone obviously hiked in to plant flowers and light candles, long since extinguished. It spoke to a passion and a subservience to something I don’t recall ever having, but hunger for sometimes. 

An extremely old one, in Pompeii. The only pagan one I saw, but fascinating all the same to think that even in ancient times, the tradition existed. 

Along the climb in Bellano, there were two Churches. One had the stations of the cross along it, each with its own little shrine. I didn’t really think about them on my way down, but on my way up the mountain, panting and exhausted, I carefully considered each one. I was moving so slow I didn’t really have a choice, but still. They were an amazing testament to effort, and will. Things I needed in Europe, as everything cool seemed to be uphill both ways. 

The street shrines were one of my favorite parts of Italy. It’s what captured my heart- no dopplegangers needed. 


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