Our trip started in Florence and then we went to Venice and Rome and the Cinque Terra, finally returning to Florence to fly home. Each place was amazing with its own wonders to offer.
|Florence from Piazza Michaelangelo|
|Dead End in Venice|
|Colosseum in Rome|
|Hike in the Cinque Terra (I complained a lot)|
If you are in a position to take a trip to Italy, I highly recommend you do so. I watched people throughout my trip and the Italians are very warm. They greet each other enthusiastically and put up with a lot from the hordes of tourists there. Sure, they make a lot of money from the tourists, but that doesn't seem like the motivation. They know what they have and they are happy to share it. They are taking the time to live and enjoy their lives and they live in a beautiful place with a rich and important history and culture.
Italy has a lot of churches. I mean an incredible amount of churches. The big famous ones have long long lines to get in. We went into St. Peters Basilica in Rome and into the Duomo in Florence. But in addition we went into many smaller churches, especially in Venice and Rome. Every single one was fantastic and filled with unbelievable art. These smaller churches would be unbelievably grand in the USA, but they were more "average" in Italy.
Suffice it to say I lit a LOT of candles for Maggie in churches all over Italy.
|Maggie's candle is in the top row, of course|
I have to share one strange and wonderful incident. When we were approaching the Colosseum in Rome I saw a young man in a wheelchair. He reminded me very much of Maggie. He was a tourist along with his dad. There was a musician playing and the dad pushed the boy up to the basket and helped him drop a coin in the basket, just as I did many times woth Maggie. That one moment really took my breath away. I miss Maggie every minute of every day, but in that moment I felt her with me.
I wanted to say something, but I didn't. What could I possibly say? I just had to enjoy that moment and miss my daughter and return to the sightseeing with a sad smile. I didn't even tell Steve because he was fixated on some ruin at the moment. Still, it had a profound effect on me.
A couple of days later we were leaving our hotel, which was on a quiet street just a few blocks from St Peter's Basilica a few miles away from the Colosseum. This was not a big hotel, but a bed and breakfast on the 5th floor of a non-descript building on a non-descript street. As we were leaving a tour bus was letting passengers out. It was the only tour bus I saw near our hotel because we weren't that close to the Square and there was nothing of particular importance near us. I watched as people got off the bus wondering "why here?" Imagine my surprise when I see the same man carry the same young boy off the bus and someone follow with his wheelchair. I felt like it was a sign. Not sure what the sign meant, but I felt Maggie's presence very strongly.
I guess that was to be expected. I always bring her with me. It has become my habit to pack one of Maggie's scarves whenever I travel. It's a little tangible reminder that she is with me. This is not something I talk about, but it has become part of my routine. When we arrived in Florence and started arranging our things, I noticed a scarf in Steve's bag too.
He does the exact same thing and we never discussed it. So she was with us on the whole trip.