November 4, 2017

Il Regno's 2017 Weekend Getaway

Flying the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies atop Look Out Point
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Saturday, October 28th — Birthday of Michelina De Cesare (1841-1868) and Anniversary of Emperor Constantine’s Victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge (312 AD)
Members and friends of the Circolo delle Due Sicilie USA—which is what we’re calling our merry band of netroots these days—took a much needed respite from city life this weekend with a long overdo excursion to Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in Westchester County, New York. Leaving the noise, grime and pollution behind, our little troop set out to the great outdoors for a little peace and tranquility, not to mention fresh air and fellowship. 
Placard with info about Dr. Sal J. Prezioso, the park's namesake
Half jokingly, we referred to ourselves as the “Guerra Gang” in memory of “la Brigantessa,” Michelina De Cesare, who took to the hills and carried on the good fight in defense of our ancestral homeland, traditions and good King Francis II after the Piedmontese conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1861.
One of the park's many hiking trails
In what was an absolutely gorgeous day, we parked our car, grabbed our provisions, and began our hike. Slowly ascending one of the many scenic trails, we eventually reached a clearing at Look Out Point (Elev. 740’) and admired the spectacular panoramic view of the changing foliage in the valley beneath us, and lakes Waccabuc and Rippowam. 
Panoramic view of the changing foliage
Taking a load off, we planted our flag, temporarily rechristened our little patch of turf “New Ferdinandia” in honor of HRM King Ferdinand I, and waxed poetic about our majestic surroundings. Sitting back in quiet reflection beneath the blue sky for awhile, I thanked God for my many blessings, including our brief jaunt into this remote sylvan idyll, and enjoyed the day with my companions. 
Breaking camp
Like all good things, our ramble came to an end and we needed to get back to our lodgings. So the thoroughly relaxed “Guerra Gang” packed up camp, took one last look at the incredible view, and sauntered down the mountain. 
* * *
Our Lady of Loretto RC Church in Cold Spring, New York
Sunday, October 29th — Feast of Christ the King
Unfortunately, Sunday was cold and rainy, so we decided to skip our planned hike in Bear Mountain State Park and instead take a trip to Cold Spring, New York, a quaint little village in Putnam County. 
The foggy Hudson River
After Mass at Our Lady of Loretto RC Church (24 Fair St.) we strolled over to the picturesque water front, complete with Civil War Parrott Cannon and large gazebo. Gazing across the foggy Hudson, we could faintly discern the United States Military Academy at West Point.
One of several statues of San Francesco d'Assisi around Graymoor Monastery
As the rain got heavier, we sought cover on Main Street, which is lined with restaurants, boutiques and antique shops. We looked around for a bit, but to be honest we weren’t much in the mood for shopping; it kind of defeated the purpose of our getaway. So we cut our stay short, and thanks to a suggestion by our friend Lucian, we took a drive to Graymoor Monastery (40 Franciscan Way) in nearby Garrison, New York. 
Part of the Monastery complex at Graymoor
Known as the Holy Mountain, Graymoor is the headquarters of the Franciscan Sisters and Friars of the Atonement. Normally a popular destination for pilgrims, the inclement weather kept most wayfarers away, so we virtually had the serene grounds, shrines and chapels all to ourselves. 
Chapel of Our Lady of Atonement
A blessing in disguise, the bad weather brought us to this harmonious oasis, where we spent our day praying, meditating and enjoying all the peace and tranquility it had to offer.
We lit a few candles inside the Chapel of Our Lady of Atonement
(L) Our Lady of Atonement. (R) The Sant'Antonio da Padova Chapel
Another shrine to Our Lady of Atonement
* * *
Seeing that we haven't eaten since breakfast, by the end of the day our group was famished. However, instead of looking for an acceptable place to dine nearby, we decided to hold off a little longer and grab a bite back in Manhattan. Naturally, we ended up at Acqua (21 Peck Slip), our friend Chef Marrone’s restaurant in the South Street Seaport. My go-to place in Lower Manhattan, we enjoyed (and consumed) an array of delicious appetizers and pasta dishes. 
For my entree, I enjoyed a delicious plate of spaghettoni ai pomodorini del Vesuvio
It was unquestionably the perfect way to end our weekend of rest and relaxation.