Providence and Portsmouth in Rhode Island

We wanted to visit Providence, Rhode Island, because of its colorful history. Before last summer, David and Jacob had listened to a podcast about the Patriarca crime family, an Italian-American Mafia family based in New England. They are known as the New England Mafia, the Boston Mafia, the Providence Mafia or The Office. The Patriarca crime family’s long-time boss was Raymond Patriarca whose control extended throughout New England for three decades. Providence was his home base.

To satisfy our curiosity, we set out to find his “operation” one late morning before going to lunch. All three boys wanted their photo taken in front of the door of Raymond Patriarca’s Providence house in Federal Hill.

Providence 1

We also walked around a little bit to get a feel for Federal Hill, an older Italian neighborhood in New England. Looking closely, you will be able to see some Italian flags adorning the lamp posts. Here and there along the street, there were older pot-bellied men talking to one another right in front of their houses.

We explored downtown Providence one afternoon and tried the Italian Lemon Ice sold by a street vendor who was a college student. David and Jacob had already tried this before for the first time in Nashville, but it was James’ and my first time. I thought the ground ice was quite smooth and that the sweet and tangy flavors deliciously refreshing. Italian Lemon Ice basically tastes more sugary than lemony, which pleased James who has the sweetest tooth in our family. In the summer heat, this cold tasty treat was purely reenergizing.

Another happy memory of ours in Providence was going to a noon confession at the historic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. This almost 200-year-old cathedral features exquisite interior architecture in the Gothic revival style, and I were so in awe of its magnificently ornate columns and stained-glass windows that I couldn’t bring myself to take photo of anything I was looking at. I found myself being still and serene while sitting there waiting for the confession to start. We were the first ones waiting for the priest to arrive, and I savored every tranquil moment of being there by ourselves in such a sacred sanctuary steeped in history and beauty. As I didn’t take any photo, the below photos are from the Internet.

One afternoon, we drove from Providence to Portsmouth through Newport to visit the monks at Portsmouth Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery, where our dear friend Brother Sixtus lives. We stopped at Newport beach for some time so that the boys can go for a swim in the ocean.

When we arrived at the Abbey, Brother Joseph, the guest master, came out to meet us. Brother Sixtus was in England at the time for a Benedictine conference, so he had Brother Joseph gave us a tour of the Abbey in his absence. Brother Joseph surprised us by driving us around in a golf cart instead of taking us around on foot. I could feel a pleasant breeze blowing through my short hair while cruising around in the back of the golf cart. He first drove us to the wind turbine that he’s in charge of maintaining. It seemed unreal to me that we were about to step inside a real wind turbine when he unlatched the door for us. up until then, I had only seen these things from afar. It looks so much taller and wider up close.

Brother Joseph told us he often had to climb to the top of the staircase for his work and that he enjoyed watching the star-studded night sky from the top of this wind turbine. We later found out from our conversation with him that Brother Joseph had first come to Portsmouth Abbey from Massachusetts to teach at the Portsmouth Abbey School (a Catholic co-ed boarding high school on Portsmouth Abbey’s grounds and operated by the monks some of whom teach there) and ended up staying because he fell in love with the place. He then became a Benedictine monk and a jack-of-all-trade who has been responsible for different projects on the Abbey’s grounds.

When Brother Joseph pulled up the golf cart to right in front of the Narragansett Bay next to the Abbey, my breath stopped short when I saw the bay. The view was simply amazing.

After the tour, we attended a prayer service with the monks and some lay people from the community. We were allowed to sit with the monks close to the altar. We got another surprise from Brother Joseph when we heard his beautiful chanting voice.


When the prayer service finished, the monks invited us and other community members to eat with them at their Sunday feast. We sat next to an elderly couple from the White Mountain of New Hampshire, who is now living in Rhode Island. The wife told me they used to live in many places in the country at military bases before her husband retired from his job in the military. David was delighted since there were red and white wine as well as beer at the feast. For main dishes, there were Indian dishes cooked by Brother Benedict who is Indian and some American dishes such as steak and roasted vegetable.

After the sumptuous dinner, we were invited to look at some ceramic artwork on the Abbey’s walls and then out to the garden to have our photo taken with Brother Joseph. Brother Joseph texted the photo to Brother Sixtus in England right after it was taken. Thus concluded our satisfying visit to Portsmouth Abbey in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Thank you for reading and Happy Wandering!!

About David and Lam

A smitten couple and loving parents in our early 40s. We have lived in 3 different countries together. We dream of living in a fourth country together after our children grow up. We love long walks in the woods, climbing mountains, boating, traveling, reading, and being together. Both David and Lam are old souls who love quietness and meaningful conversations in which we ponder the truth and mysteries of life as well as discuss philosophical and ethical matters. We especially like to enjoy the small pleasures of daily life.
This entry was posted in Faith, Family Fun, Faraway Trips and Local Outings, From Lam's Desk and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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