I don’t know why, but over the past few weeks I have felt the strong urge to write about my 2011 trip to Italy. I’ve learned to listen to that little voice that says, “Just do it.”
So please enjoy this recap of a trip-of-a-lifetime. I had no idea I would fall so deeply in love with Italy, and now I know why people return again and again!
I record my travel memories by journaling and taking photos, and that’s what I will be sharing – although not every single photo or journal entry! You’re welcome!
Please Note: While I know that there are wheelchair-accessible tours available in Italy, that was not the focus of this trip.
Four-Generation Trip of a Lifetime
My daughter (Amanda), granddaughter (Jen) and I were blessed to be able to spend three weeks in Italy in 2011. Our tour-guide and benefactor was our Aunt Karyn, who has visited Italy many times and wanted to share this experience with us. We are forever grateful for this experience.
The Back Story
In 1998 Amanda’s husband was transferred to the U.S. Naval base at Catania, Sicily. Amanda and Jen joined him there. Amanda’s letters to me described her delight in exploring this city. She loved everything, from the cobblestone streets to shopping in the colorful open-air markets!
Most especially, she loved the architecture and history of this ancient town. She was eager to get to know the local people, to visit the Duomo, to learn more about this city.
Unfortunately, the marriage ended a few months later. But Amanda had fallen in love with Catania. Although she and Jen returned to the U.S. and settled in Idaho, Amanda left a piece of her heart in Sicily.
Many years later, in September of 2009, Amanda’s Great Aunt Karyn offered to take Amanda, Jen and me to Italy. Of course, we all jumped at the chance to visit this country Karyn knew and loved so well!
And so we began planning for a three-week adventure in the spring of 2011.
Planning Our Itinerary
We spent many weeks refining our itinerary, not an easy task. Italy is a large country and there were many cities we would love visit.
Finally, though, we had a plan. We would start by spending a few days in Rome, then travel to the Amalfi Coast and spend a few days in Positano. While there we would take day-trips to Capri, Sorento and Pompeii.
Leaving the Amalfi Coast we would take a train from Salerno to Messina (at the tip of Italy’s boot). By ferry and train we would travel from Messina to Giardini Naxos, a town at the foot of Taormina, Sicily.
We would spend a few days exploring Taormina, with day trips to Catania and Agrigento. Finally, we would travel by train to Palermo for the last few days of our adventure.
And with that plan, I began reading travel books and making notes. What landmarks did I want to see? Which museums would be open and when? I was eager to learn as much as I could about our destinations!
The Italian Adventure Begins!
And finally the Big Day came!
I drove to San Francisco, where I left my car at the Travelodge secure long-term parking. Their free airport shuttle took me to SFO’s International Terminal.
From my journal: Jen and Amanda were waiting by KLM, and we had a good lunch first before finally getting our boarding passes, going through security and then hanging out for three hours before boarding.
We played the card game Phase 10 and drank plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Finally we boarded the plane and were on our way!
After a fairly easy flight we landed in Amsterdam for a brief layover. Sadly, we were too weary to explore the wonderful shops at Schiphol Airport, other than a brief stop at the tulip market.
At last, we are on the last leg of our journey. Arriving at Fiumicino Airport we easily walk through Customs; we have nothing to declare. Alas, there is no passport check – which means no Italian stamp on my passport.
We quickly and easily find Karyn, who leads us to the train station. We are ready to begin our Roman adventure!