By Christine Galeone

Staff Reporter

When Carol Cook was notified that a photo she had taken was one of the five winning photos in the Washington, D.C.-based National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) Ninth Annual Photo Contest, she felt a range of emotions. “I was very surprised,” Cook recalled. “But, then, I was flattered, honored, happy – all those good feelings! I was a bit humbled too.”

The photo, which is entitled “The Dove of Peace,” was selected by the contest’s judges among photos submitted by more than 100 professional and amateur photographers. The theme of the 2021 competition was “Tutto bene!” With the loose translation of the Italian theme being “All is well,” in English, the amateur Mendon photographer’s photo beautifully reflected the encouraging phrase.

In 2007, Cook took the photo during her second trip to Italy with her husband, Don. It was also the only one of their four vacations to that country in which they celebrated Easter there. Seeing that dove perched on the mountain top above Saint Francis Church in Assisi made their celebration of the holiday even more enchanting.

Cook revealed that their excursion to Mount Subasio was an unexpected detour. They had been staying at a hotel in Assisi before visiting relatives in Le Marche. When the couple wanted to view and purchase some Italian dinnerware for themselves and for a gift, the driver they had hired suggested stopping at the scenic mountain on the way.

They were glad that he made the suggestion. “It’s just an absolutely beautiful place to go,” Cook said. She later added, “Sometimes these things turn out to be so worthwhile.”

At night, they would sometimes go out on their hotel room balcony and view the mountain in the distance. But even though that majestic place is now thousands of miles away, the photo still reminds Cook of Easter. “I look at that picture, and I just think [of] peace,” she shared. “The Dove of Peace. It makes me calm.”

With Cook’s photo featured in the Winter 2021 issue of NIAF’s Ambassador Magazine, more people have been able to experience that sense of serenity. And while Cook still enjoys taking photos of her grandchildren, flowers and rugs that she has hooked, “The Dove of Peace” will always have a special place in her heart. That Easter in Italy will as well. “It was amazing,” she said. “It really was.”