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My 1-month Independent Trip to Southern Italy & Tribute to my husband

I am posting this diary of my trip as it was written during my trip each evening.

“…Traveling on your own is fun, challenging, vivid, and exhilarating. Realizing that you have what it takes to be your own guide is a thrill known only to solo travelers. Your trip is a gift from you to you.” - Tips for traveling solo, RS page

After almost a year of research & planning, I was ready to embark on another exciting solo trip to Italy! This was my third solo trip to Italy & my eighth time in Italy. This trip was the longest time period I had been in Europe - 34 days.

For this trip, the research idea started last July to focus on the Puglia region in 2024 - in the heel of Italy’s boot. Besides enjoying Italy in general, the finale for this trip was going to be the chance to attend the Spello Infiorate again, my favorite festival! When I found out that Bari has a festival in May - the Sagreda di San Nicola festival May 7-9, I extended this trip longer than planned by an extra week up front to attend it, also.

This trip encompassed a lot of moving - a couple of overnights were only 15 minutes apart! I stayed in 17 different small hotels/B&B’s, with a few routings through Rome, 10 cities were new to me & 3 were repeats. (Am I crazy?) Originally, I also had an overnight for Spoleto, but the railroad work near that town made that location too much effort, so I gave that night to Assisi.

If you’re picturing me continually packing & repacking, racing from place to place exhausted, this was not that way. I gave myself a gift - almost any change of location was only one train. I figured that might be very important in the south of Italy! During past trips, I usually left a hotel by 8am. This trip, I slowed it down to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and leave by 9 or 10am when more people would be out on the streets. The only day-trip I did was take the train from Palermo out to Cefalu.

Wasting time switching hotels gets brought up often on our forum with an emphasis of doing day trips, instead. As I was progressing through this trip with six 1-night stays among the rest, it reconfirmed that there really was no difference at all in my tasks on mornings when I was switching locations and those I did not. Other than leaving some clothes in a closet to finish their last bit of drying, I always put my bedside Tom Bihn drawstring bag & my LLBean toiletry bag back in my backpack each morning and zipped it up since almost all places had someone coming in to clean the rooms. Everything else was already in my backpack & tote. All lodging was paid ahead of time through Booking, and I paid the small city tax when I had arrived. Usually they had me just leave the key in the room as I left. And since I didn’t leave on early morning trains, there wasn’t even that feeling of needing to rush around on a travel day. I had arranged with each place to be able to leave off my backpack as I arrived in the next city, and they were all in the historical center. So, I wasn’t even walking out of my way. The only difference was having my backpack on my back. In my experience, it was definitely more beneficial to move to the next city than needing to go back to the train station after a day trip, wait, and then take the train back & walk back to the city center. I sure noticed the difference when I took that day trip out to Cefalu and had to walk back to the Cefalu train station, wait around….and my train was late, ride back to Palermo and then walk back from the train station to my neighborhood again.

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Apps that I used during this trip: the Trenitalia train app was very handy to validate all non-reserved seat tickets, & purchase a few regionale trains I didn’t buy until the trip was in progress. And it saved a lot of time avoiding the long lines at the airports’ train station ticket kiosks! I rode a lot of trains; there were only two where the validation wasn’t checked. Google maps was great for real-time walking directions. WhatsApp was the preference for some B&B owners, and I used the TripIt app to review my plans for the next city. I also used ApplePay for about 3/4 of my transactions. I stopped at an ATM three times during the trip.

I brought the minimum clothes (including my plane outfit) - one dress, four tops, two pants and some scarves. I brought an extra pair of shoes that I rarely touched and my black Columbia raincoat. I did need the nicer shoes for the opera, so I would bring those again. Also, it rained one day in Palermo, so I switched shoes to go eat dinner. My Cotopaxi Allpa 35L packed at 13.5 pounds, and my Sherpani tote (purse inside) was 3.5 pounds. I usually keep paper souvenirs - tickets, etc. but for this trip I only kept a couple. I took a photo of some before I threw them away. I could have enjoyed some serious shopping in Bari and also Cefalu! But, knowing how much I would need to carry something extra kept me from seriously looking.

“Everything weighs nothing until it all weighs too much!” - what I said while gathering way too many scarves for this trip. Even with lots of experience and reusing my packing list, it’s still a process of narrowing down that last month before a trip! (All of the scarf decisions, and I rarely wore those, either!)

New purchases for this trip:
Tom Bihn large size “tray” that’s more like a reinforced drawstring bag. Wow, I loved this and wish I had bought it years ago! How convenient to have all of these items ready to take out of my Cotopaxi with one move of my hand! Power cords, extra reading glasses, tiny flashlight and pen stayed in this bag. At night I added my watch, earrings worn that day, and my moneybelt.

Eddie Bauer Skylar Sling Bag. I had been looking for a lighter weight, smaller black purse for this trip and found this one in the Seattle area. Absolutely perfect for what I wanted and on sale! I carry so little, and this made me feel like almost nothing was across my shoulder. The shoulder strap fabric is very comfortable and doesn’t slide during the day.

During my last two trips, I used a lightweight toiletry bag where everything is just inside one main zipper compartment. Even though it weighs more, I went back to my LLBean medium toiletry bag for this trip, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t have to fish around for anything; everything has it’s own place and stays organized.

For long multi-city trips in my future, the Tom Bihn nightstand drawstring bag and the LLBean toiletry kit are definitely staying on my permanent packing list!

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I joked that the heaviest item I was bringing at first was my folder of paper reservations! Even with everything in TripIt, the Trenitalia app, etc. I still like backup Plan B ready! (And it was useful.). For my reservations on Booking.com, I printed the reservation on one side and the receipt for payment ahead of time on the back.

One task I also gave myself was printing out a 1-page double-sided map of each city. One side was a screen print of the walking route from the train station to the old center, and the other side was the historic center area with the B&B marked and other preferred spots with names in the margin. With so many cities, I spent my last two weeks pre-trip week making those and marking them up. Wow, that was such a worthwhile job! When I arrived, I already felt very familiar with each town. There’s something about physically marking those up vs. my map from TripIt that it was all I needed in most of the smaller cities. I kept the current city’s one in the front pocket of my purse. Google maps real-time was also helpful in the larger cities and in the maze of winding lanes in others. For most of the cities, I was staying 1-2 nights, so the quantity of notations on the maps weren’t complicated. My “itinerary” this trip was more the enjoyment of just being in the smaller cities than many sites & walking routes to plan at a few cities. It was wonderful to be back in Italy!

Okay, let’s start the trip! After almost a year of planning…

I arrived in Rome after three flights that all had some timing issues. The second flight sat on the tarmac an hour after landing at JFK because of gate shortages. The third flight arrived at Rome an hour late since we had sat loaded at the JFK gate for an hour before leaving. Probably expect more of that this summer, especially at that airport.

Wow, I was shocked with the huge long line at the Rome airport for the taxi; it snaked into the building! You might want to plan some other way of transportation. Also, the quick Leonardo Express train I take into Roma Termini was jam-packed! We were literally standup sardines!

Rome: From some videos I watched last month, I wanted to roam the Monti neighborhood after checking into my tiny hotel near the Roma Termini train station (leaving early tomorrow on the train). I loved the look of ivy covered buildings, the fragrant jasmine-wrapped doorways, and the overall vibe of locals enjoying themselves. (I heard lots of Italian - a great sign!) If I wasn’t a light-packer, I could have really enjoyed those shops, too! The recommendation on the video to also stop at Fatamorgana for gelato was a good one. Their Basilico with nuts was a fantastic basil - a perfect blend!

Monti was a great neighborhood to walk off some jet lag wooziness, and I also enjoyed briefly walking through the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica to see the mosaics and beautiful ceilings, etc.
Dinner was an easy pizza piece sold by the kilo weight at Molino.

For this 1- night stop, I stayed at Hotel Millerose, located two blocks from the station and on the 6th floor. Not chosen to be anything other than clean, safe & close, it fulfilled those basic needs. I also appreciated the balcony door to open for fresh air before sleeping.

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A 1-hr train to - Caserta

Thank you so much, Marcia, for mentioning Caserta in the forum early this year! As I departed the train, I was standing in front of the expansive Reggia di Caserta, the royal palace of the Naples Kings.

I chose an early entry time to be able to see the gorgeous Court Theatre. Everyone had to stand in a line, and they brought us in by small groups. The entire group was Italian except for a few Asian ladies. The moderator asked them “speak English?” to hand them a laminated translated sheet. When I stood up and said I speak English, he was suddenly very excited when he found out I was from the US. The conversation was all in Italian, but I could catch that he has a relative who works at Boeing in the Pacific NW.

Royal Apartments - each room had spectacular ceilings, a variety of huge chandeliers, and beautiful furnishings. It was all very grand & lovely to enjoy.

The garden was massive! I walked some of the long garden the first day. There’s also the option of shuttle buses, golf carts and bikes to rent.

Basilico Pizzeria Neopolitano - an amazing Regina pizza! Buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh, sweet Marzano tomato sauce, olive oil and fresh basil. An absolutely perfect crust - wow!

My little Royal Gardens Hotel (more like a B&B) gave me a voucher for breakfast at a nearby bar - the typical spot to stop in for a morning espresso. As I walked around the corner there was the bar, packed! Oh no, I know what’s coming. Everyone standing up at a noisy counter where the tiny ceramic cups & saucers of espresso are served in quick succession. And a line? Ha! Okay, jump in for my first trial by fire - LOL! I received an excellent espresso & cornetto by the way! She gave me a break and motioned she would bring it to me at an outdoor table.

With Sunday morning open, I can only say I was led because checking one night at home to see on Google if there’s an “English-speaking Christian church in Caserta” is still unthinkable to me! Well, turns out there IS one here because of the US Naval base in Naples. What a fantastic worship service, and they live “making you immediately feel like family” - so glad I could worship with them this morning!

Golf cart for €10 gave much more than a ride to the top of the fountains that are at the far end of the garden two miles away. It also drove us into the side forests on paths where there were occasional sculptures even there!

Definitely go out to the end! The views and photo opportunities along the stops were beautiful! I brought my small sketchpad along, too.

I stayed at the little Royal Gardens Hotel that has a few rooms. The host was very nice! It’s on the side street that borders the palace, so my little balcony opened to that view of a tiny garden & the palace. There’s a lot of activity, so don’t expect a serene, quiet balcony scene.

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A 3-hr train to - Polignano a Mare

Wow, what a gorgeous beige stone & white old center jutting out on the cliff with caves underneath! For this location, I picked a specific B&B, POSEA - Polignano Suites specifically for their one special room that had a large balcony jutting out with the best view of the famous Cala Porto beach inlet. I even switched my dates around to secure this room! And, yes, it totally was worth it and exceeded my expectations! (Amazingly, the same price I paid for the tiny Rome hotel above.)

I love getting up early for a morning walk, leisurely exploring the center and taking lots of photos. The quiet is so special for a few hours before the day trip people descend again on this special one. Personally, it’s a completely different experience staying overnight. I also walked over to the “Volare” statue, across the bridge and down to the beach where I could see my prominent terrace jutting out from the steep vertical of buildings.

That walk was fueled by my breakfast! My B&B voucher was for Martinucci Laboratory - oh, yes! I already had that name ready on TripIt. : ) Their local pasticciotto looks like an oval heavy muffin, but it’s a work of gooey deliciousness! My second day I am heading right back for the Amarena one again.

I reserved a 2-hr boat cave tour for my second day which thoroughly went through all of the cave inlets, including the one where you can see the very elite restaurant up inside a cave. I reserved a €10 tuktuk to/from the marina with a driver which was very reasonable for that distance. The road out has some busy sections that I wouldn’t want to walk.

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A 1-hr train to - Bari

I stayed in Bari two nights to attend their Sagra di San Nicola festival. (We refer to him at St. Nicholas!). This solemn festival was highlighted with processions, fireworks each night, a music concert, general merriment but still a lot of religious activity with it. I skipped the first day of the 3-day festival in order to stay at the PaM B&B mentioned above, but I was there during the statue’s return from the sea and with the heavy crowd of people to watch the grand procession into the piazza for the finale location of San Nicola during the rest of the sagreda. The statue was carried through a long network of lighted arches with the finale location ringed with a huge white network grid with colored lights making gorgeous photos of the event! I was really glad I had extended my trip to attend this one!

It’s really nice to not be in a hurry on this longer trip! I purposely didn’t want to wear myself out at my normal pace. ; ). I’ve enjoyed the easy-going pace with usually only one activity planned at a 1-2 night location. The rest of the time can just be enjoying the city, photographing, sketching, having some nice Italian interactions, or picking something else from my penciled in plans on TripIt.

I walked over to the Teatro Margherita while I was on the waterfront the first evening waiting for more of the festival, and I was thrilled they had extended their dates for the Elliot Erwitt Photographic Exhibition (love his B&W capture of people’s expressions!) - one of the most influential photographers of the 21st century. It was very special to be inspired this morning by the display of photos, plus hearing him speak during the exhibit’s 15-minute video.

For Bari, I stayed at Palazzo Calo in Bari vecchio. Even with my map and Google maps leading me, it truly is a maze, but a fun maze! This B&B felt more like a boutique hotel - beautiful decor, a nice buffet breakfast (nice to have some protein), and a huge split-level room with a sofa and table & chairs on the lower level & a loft bedroom. I would definitely stay here again as a solo traveler.

Bari surprised me. I came there because of the festival, but it has so much more! If I am in this region again, I will come back.

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A 1-hr bus to - Alberobello

I had read so many warnings, including some on this forum, to stop very briefly, if at all in Alberobello and then leave quickly to get away from the crowds & tacky souvenir shops. But, seeing the on-line skyline photos filled with trulli, this was one city I definitely wanted to experience early morning and at night! I felt encouraged several months after making a trullo lodging reservation when I saw this from Michelle:

“People often blow through Alberobello, but I encourage you to stay. When the tourists leave in the evenings, and before they arrive in the mornings, you’ll be able to commune with the town, past and present, in a way that seems impossible as you’re waiting for yet another group to finish taking selfies.” - Michelle Damiani, author of Il Bel Centro.

I definitely wanted to stay overnight in a trullo, but not one that would be impossible to find again after I was finished walking in the evening! “Go to the third street where there’s a trullo on the corner, up to the fifth white trullo with the star knob on top, & take a left at the 8th trullo with flowers.” LOL! I reserved the smallest room - “The Poet” of the Le Alcove Luxury Hotel nei Trulli which was very central but also easy to find. It was such a special little “nest for the night”, truly beautiful and came with a large breakfast they serve customers. Waking up in the morning, gazing up at the conical ceiling is a special memory!

In order to not gain a bad impression of Alberobello, my plan was to get out of town during the middle of the day. I corresponded with Allways Puglia a few months ahead of time to reserve an ebike to ride out in the countryside between Alberobello & Locorotondo. What a fun activity, and a perfect memory as my first ebike experience! : ) I took some nice photos that I couldn’t have taken in town. His customer service was impeccable; I highly recommend him! In fact, he saw me as I was walking early the next morning, called out to me and treated me like an old friend.

Since I stayed overnight, I was able to walk in the evening after the crowds were all gone to take those special photos, sit with the older residents who have dressed up to meet in their small piazza with the benches under the trees & a cute merry go round, and feel the town turn back to itself again.

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A 10-minute train ride to - Locorotondo

I hesitate to even mention this city that’s obtained the Orange Flag status as one of Italy’s prettiest village. What a special little place! I came specifically to photograph it in the morning, have an amazing lunch, do some sketching in the afternoon and enjoy the evening ambiance capturing the glow on the buildings. By late afternoon I was only hearing Italian - very nice! The restaurant below my room was in full force that evening! I absolutely love rooms where I am hearing all of the happy family atmosphere when I am traveling solo!

For Locorotondo, I stayed in the king-room with a balcony at Domus San Giovanni’s B&B. The beautiful ceiling is shaped like a square trullo interior instead of the conical shape. The room even included a tiny kitchen with a Nespresso-type for coffee before breakfast - yes! A nice breakfast is served on the top floor of a nearby B&B (very steep steps up to the breakfast).

A 10-minute train ride to - Martina Franca
Oh wait, no train! Ugh, silly me already knowing Sunday transportation is very hit & miss! But this adds another great story to my trip! Here’s how I described it to my friends:

“Today is a huge prayer of gratefulness & praise! The entire solution played out in ways I hadn’t orchestrated - just saw answers of prayers in action.

I walked the 15 minutes to the Locorotondo train station. No one else was there, but I do arrive early. 10:00 came & no train. That’s not a big surprise. Sometimes they’re slow & worse on Sundays.

Finally, a couple (English speaking! ) show up, but they were heading the opposite direction to Bari. By that time I had checked the train app. My train number didn’t exist! What? I have a purchased ticket to nowhere??

I told them I was going to have to try to find a taxi - not easy as it’s an unmanned station and no nearby stores. They said they had a private driver leave them off here, so I asked if they could call him quickly before he left the area!

What a sweet driver, and he picked up his daughter in the center where I had been staying. We had some wonderful conversation during the 15-minute ride with his daughter asking about how I learned Italian (she laughed because they use Duolingo for other languages, too!), and her dad & she wanted to know what I thought of the Puglia region. This even saved me from the 15-minute walk into the city center. Their “Ciao, ciao, arrivederci!” was very touching & warmhearted to me at our departure.”

I met my apartment owners at Dimora di Nonna Dora. Another lodging I would heartily recommend unless you have bad knees. The stairs up both floors are very steep stone, but the two floors of rooms were impeccably clean and very nice! Check out photos to see the beautiful ceiling stone work in the bedroom, with the top floor sofa room & kitchen having a complete arch ceiling of stone - unique & beautiful!

Martina Franca is a sensory overload of Baroque architecture - whew! Was someone waiting for the signal to stop making more & more frills on everything? Palazzo Ducale’s few rooms were worth seeing, and I especially wanted the photo of the repeating doorways! I didn’t linger because some guy was coughing a lot!

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A Puglia passeggiata: This was the coolest social thing I have ever witnessed!  I even started taking notes while I had joined it - LOL!

I have participated in the Italian passeggiata in Siena, Salerno and other locations, but the one last night in Martina Franca is a whole new level & definition! I finished dinner at Pizzeria Pomodoro & Basilica (amazing! & you need reservations at least a few days ahead - sit inside) at 8pm. As I walked back over to the main route between piazzas, the passeggiata was in full force - wow!

Picture everyone in the city - the elderly (80’s), the young parents, people in wheelchairs, couples, singles, every age.  They are all walking, strolling - no running or rushing.  If it’s a couple, the lady has her spouse’s arm. They’re not walking in line, but there’s a gentle rhythm to it. At one point I wrote in my notes, “They just keep coming!” LOL!

In the northern cities, it seemed like the passeggiata’s purpose was to dress up, to be seen. Here it’s wasn’t that feeling. Mostly normal dress, although I did see some men in suits and older ladies in dresses.

No one was holding a drink, places weren’t trying to sell stuff; this is a friendly neighborly gathering, even without any cliques that I noticed.

Elementary age kids were playing & laughing with each other in the larger piazzas - no parents specifically hovering. There was a small band playing music with an accordion, electric guitar & electric drum pad, so some people, including me, were swaying to the music in one piazza.

All I could think about (besides how cool this all is as a community) is how did they ever survive the COVID quarantine years? Their DNA is to be together! It’s now 10:30pm, and it’s still going strong on a Sunday evening.

A very interesting & special relationship I am witnessing tonight as they just gather in their central piazzas together as a city.

It’s so interesting that these three cities - the trulli city, the beautiful village & the Baroque city are all just 10 miles apart, yet they have three completely different looks & personality! Wow, what I would have missed if I didn’t experience each of them overnight!

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3-hr train to Lecce
I was so glad to see trains running this morning! ; )

I took a taxi from the train station to my B&B, Dimora San Giuseppe. It’s located very near to the amplitheater. My deluxe double room was huge! It’s bigger than our bedroom at home and included a side sofa and a French-looking table & chair set. The modern bathroom with a huge shower with lots of gizmos was the nicest one, along with Bari’s on this trip. This definitely wasn’t the tiny Italian shower I’ve received often. The breakfast was very nice with a large assortment of local food. I told the young lady in Italian that I was really going to miss the Puglia delicious passaciotto for breakfast! The last morning when I would be walking to the train after breakfast, she brought one wrapped up in foil as she delivered my espresso to the breakfast table - how sweet of her!

Another fun part about staying at this B&B was meeting a couple from San Diego (originally Wales) who had finished the RS Sicily tour and a 12-person tour in the Puglia region with a couple of days here afterwards. They were having breakfast on the outdoor terrace, and I asked them where they lived. We had a fun conversation, and she even went to their room to bring back their familiar blue & gold guidebook and printed itinerary for a photo of them! : )

My first day, I purchased the combo ticket to go inside the five largest churches. I had planned to go in them my second day, so that suddenly opened up Day 2’s itinerary.

I quickly booked a 2-hr City Tour from Viator for that next morning, mainly because it took awhile to find anything that allowed me to sign up as one person. Lorenzo de Robertis from Discovering Lecce gave seven of us an excellent tour of the history of Lecce! We also stopped in a local cafe during the short time of rain & had a delicious “Leccese coffee” & conversation. He did a wonderful job not only explaining different historical neighborhoods & their architectural styles, but making sense of the extensive symbolism of the Baroque decor that could be a whole day tour itself! He also shared some noteworthy restaurants and places for street food.

Awaiting Tables Cooking Class is another reason I added Lecce to my itinerary. My last day, I attended Silvestro’s Market & Fish Class & highly recommend this one for both the food, learning how to make orecchiette (little ears) pasta, but also for all of the great conversation during the six hours. I also want to give credit to him for having a comprehensive document he sent me before the class that described the culture, plus it mentioned connecting with people’s businesses on social media before the trip instead of waiting until afterwards. I really benefited from his advice and thanked him for it!

6-hour train to Rome.
I purposely took the train to Rome instead of trying to fly from Bari over to Palermo. This made a direct flight instead of possible tight connections, plus I already am very familiar with the Leonardo Express train, etc. at the Rome airport. I took the 11am train and rode in business class which was spacious, picking the 1-seat side at the end of a car with handicap access.

My hotel was Hotel Mecenate Palace near Maggiore Church. I noticed the change in demeanor of the staff from my experience in Puglia; otherwise, this was a great location to be close to Roma Termini, plus the excellent breakfast & terrace have a view overlooking Santa Maria Maggiore.

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1-hr. flight to Sicily to stay in Palermo.

Today is a train strike, but I checked on the forum and Priscilla kindly confirmed that the Leonardo Express out to the airport is still running - thank you, Priscilla!

ITA Airways worked well. I flew economy and was glad it was just an hour flight with the tight legroom.

I had planned to take the shared taxi option into Palermo that Sarah Murdoch recommends, but the sign said that option was closed. To simplify life, I just took a taxi. Yes, it was expensive but so nice to arrive directly at my lodging safely & without beginning Palermo in confusion. Plus, it was fun to watch how locals drive! His manners were very professional until on the road! Honk often if the car in front of you is driving too slow on the highway or a street. Feel free to yell at another driver, yet, kindly say “Prego” to any pedestrian wanting to cross the street. : ). When I left Palermo after five days, I just walked over to the train station & took the train to the airport. But, I have to say that I am really glad that I took the taxi for my first impression of Palermo. It set the tone for my thoughts of the city in a very positive light.

For Palermo, I stayed five nights at the Della Vittorie Luxury Suites. One morning, I met a couple from Texas who were starting the RS Sicily tour that night! : ). The B&B is just behind a restaurant on Via Maqueda, so it was very handy and safe for me to be walking around in the evening. I also liked this location a lot because I had an opera ticket at Teatro Massimo to see “Tristan & Isolde” - an easy walk down Via Maqueda. The rooms on the first upper floor were like a nice American hotel room. The spacious breakfast room, which I walked through to get to my room, had a nice assortment, and he sat out some afternoon treats in that room. I would definitely stay here again, especially with the $125/night price. This is the only place I booked directly with the hotel instead of using Booking.com because of the price difference.

On arrival day, I walked over to nearby Quattro Conti to go into two of the churches with spectacular ceilings, chandeliers, beautiful art & marble - wow! I even caught a quick photo as I walked between the two of a Sicilian wedding party in beautiful jewel-toned dresses (much fancier than I have seen) waiting to go into another church.

Dinner was Arancina with an “a”! : )

My first full day began with a Free city tour by Kairos. A large group at the meeting place was divided into groups of 18 each. Our guide took us to the outside of the Teatro Massimo, part of the city wall, Il Capo Market, the Cathedral, Quattro Conti, the two main pedestrian streets, etc. It was worthwhile, I learned a lot, and I enjoyed our guide.

Saturday evening I tried to go to the Opera dei Pupe, but it wasn’t open. It looks like the shows have been reduced down to just Sunday evenings. : (

Sunday I had planned to relax and then meet up for the Palazzo Conte Federico tour for my 11am ticket. But, checking the Norman Palace website again that morning, they weren’t going to have the Palatine Chapel open Monday because of some maintenance/event - ugh! Luckily, I saw it at 8am, so I hurriedly got ready, had breakfast and was in there by 9am. Wow, the chapel is spectacular! While in line for the chapel, the staff worker stopped me in line and said it was going to be closed for awhile. I asked her in Italian what time it would open again. She looked me over, asked me in Italian if I was solo, and she let me in. Whew! Thank you, Duolingo! That gave me time to enjoy photographing and gazing at all of the spectacular mosaics, walk through the royal apartments- beautiful mosaic room there, too, and still get to my Palazzo reservation by 11am.

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The Palazzo Conte Federico tour was very interesting, mainly for me because of the history of the building as part of the original wall & tower! Plus, it was interesting to see what had been changed during different centuries. They certainly had some interesting hobbies! Who can say that they have a fencing “sport room” in their house? And, I had to smile when he told us his 85-year old dad raced his car last October at the Malta Gran Prix and was mad that he placed 3rd! ; )

Sunday was thunderstorms and rain that lingered way longer than the forecast. So, I spent some of the afternoon leisurely in my very nice hotel room where I could check periodically out my window to see if the strolling group on Via Maqueda were still carrying umbrellas.

Sunday evening I had a ticket to the “Tristan & Isolde” opera at the Teatro Massimo. The box seats were so elegant and more spacious than I expected because of the age of it. I love being able to attend an artistic or classical musical event on European trips!

Monday was a fun day attending the Sicilian Pantry Cooking class. 8 of us started at the Il Capo Market again, but being Monday, there was no fish there this time. The chef picked out all of our fresh ingredients (I volunteered to carry the large bag of basil - love the smell of it!), and we made two types of ethnic street food, a pasta dish, fresh strawberry granita, and we finished with his homemade lemoncello, except it’s made with mandarin oranges. I certainly didn’t need dinner that night!

One of the main highlights for me besides the delicious food and group camaraderie, was his assistant. She was a young fireball, setting us straight with fast & loud hand-waving advice learned from her nonna! I will never combine onion & garlic again! ; )

We finished by 4pm, so I was able to attend the Opera dei Pupe Argento over by the cathedral. Seeing the puppets up close and seeing them in action, while thinking how this would have been the main method of entertainment years ago really was a special event to attend! I do think they are probably on their last years of this lost art. : (

Tuesday I planned to go to Monreale or to Cefalu. I was beginning to feel mosaic-dazed, so I opted for Cefalu. Wow, I was so glad that I was up and taking the train, arriving by 10:30am. I was able to enjoy the quaint lanes, cathedral (hey, mosaics here, too!) and beach area before the town was descended upon by a sea of cruise tourists and day-trip viewers - whew! I saw a wall of them coming thick down one of the main lanes, and I took a quick left and climbed up the steep hill to head back to the train station…just in time.

The rest of the day was just enjoying all of the last things in Palermo & taking evening photos before getting ready to fly back to Rome the next day for the second half of the trip.

During the trip, I watched the train strike notices during the entire trip - sort of my morning “weekly weather forecast” to anticipate & make any adjustments which were going to be needed for one of the days. Earlier in the trip, I noticed that the Monday I was to leave Spello (two weeks in the future) and head to Rome’s airport hotel had a long list of train strikes planned. I wondered if I should just fly back after my time in Tivoli, but my husband encouraged me to stay an extra day or more since he knew how much I was looking forward to Spello. So, he made the Delta calls for me to come home Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

Posted by
7465 posts

1-hr flight back to Rome.

I arrived at my hotel around 3pm. This time I stayed in a neighborhood I like over near the Pantheon. When I went to mark Hotel Navona on my map, I noticed it’s right next door to Mr. 100 Tiramisu! Coincidence? Breakfast & midnight snack time? Ha! Well, that thought never did pan out because all day there was a long line of people queued out front to go into the small place for tiramisu or even just for a takeaway! My daughter & I really loved it in 2022, but I am not waiting an hour in line for tiramisu.

My room at Hotel Navona was my least favorite room during the whole trip. And the fact that it was the same price as my gorgeous one with the amazing terrace in Polignano a Mare was very sad! The teeny old room had a square cut out of a third of the room with plexiglass. That was the sink/shower/toilet/bidet/ closet/refrigerator combo. Seriously, I think there were larger bathrooms in some of my trains! I was definitely glad I didn’t have my husband or daughter with me, so we didn’t have to watch each other using the toilet. : (. But, what it lacked in looks, it made up for in location. Just a few turns, and I was at the Pantheon or Piazza Navona.

My full day in Rome was Art day! I walked over to Palazzo Barberini and later over to the Borghese Gallery - both timed entry tickets. So much beauty in both of them! I had planned to also walk over to the Art Nouveau neighborhood, but I was getting a migraine flashing aura, so I stayed in the shady Borghese Park, instead. Thankfully, it subsided! That evening I ignored my own advice and ate dinner at a restaurant in Piazza Navona. Yes, the food wasn’t as good as the previous night, but like my odd hotel room, I was here for the location! So the last night in Rome, I had an excellent seat to enjoy all of the people-watching at the fountains & piazza.

Posted by
7465 posts

2.5 hr. train to - Sulmona
What a special time this was going to be, meeting one of our forum participants who lives in the Abruzzo region! We planned to spend Sunday together going to small villages clinging to the mountain sides and a tiny chapel with historic frescoes.

Michelle Damiani, an American author whose young family lived in Spello, Italy for a year described Sulmona like this: “It really feels like the village that time and tourism forgot. People hardly speak English, the town is authentic, and there was not one Rick Steves book in evidence.”

The train ride to Abruzzo was spectacular! Oh, the gorgeous mountain scenes! I arrived at the Sulmona train station and took a taxi to my B&B. I had picked B&B Il Marchese del Grillo as soon as I saw the views from the rooftop terrace! Picture the prettiest old style church steeple with flowers on this terrace and stunning mountains in every direction! I took several photos but mainly just stood there and took in the majestic setting!

Posted by
7465 posts

The next five placeholders in my plan never happened.

X-hr train to - Tivoli (2 nights)
X-hr trains to - Assisi (2 nights)
X-minute taxi over to Spello 3 nights to return to attend the beautiful Infiorate again)
X-hr trains to - Hilton Rome Airport Hotel.
Fly home to my husband.

My husband didn’t answer his texts when I reached Sulmona, so I texted our kids and asked them to call him. I asked my neighbor to check, assuming he had his phone on silent and an early golf game. He had died unexpectedly, taking a nap in his favorite recliner.

He was always such a big supporter of my love of independent travel, and gave me an iPad mini at Christmas and a European charger as a gift when we were in Madrid last February for this trip. As I sit here on the route, waiting for that moment of stark reality at home, I am so very grateful for our happy 45 years together and that we took that special trip to celebrate it last June to England & Wales. If you have a spouse, please tell them today how very much you love them.

A very special thank you to our forum participant, Nelly! You will never know how much I truly appreciated the ride back to Rome and your conversation that helped ease my time. We will do that day together some year, dear friend!

Also, to Priscilla. The Bible passage you sent me couldn’t have been more perfect - exactly what I needed that day, and it fit beautifully with those views I sought on that rooftop my last morning.

I wasn’t sure if I should post this trip report, but many of you helped with ideas, and I hope this trip will inspire you & others to seek those special spots in Italy away from the crowds that are so very special!

Posted by
4946 posts

(I will delete this shortly, so as not to interrupt your flow. )

Your trip is a gift from you to you.

As I sit in my sweet little hotel in England, having my breakfast, reading this was a lovely sentiment to start my day.

I look forward to reading about your trip as you post and sharing your enthusiasm!

Posted by
33336 posts

Jean - I am so sorry for you. Virtual hugs

Posted by
4352 posts

Ah, Jean, I am so sorry! There aren’t words but I am glad you have shared this with us. This will be a hard trip home and harder times once you arrive, but I am glad you had Nelly to share the beginnings with you. Thinking of you in the days and weeks and months ahead.

Posted by
855 posts

Jean, I am so very sorry. What a wonderful tribute to your husband.

Posted by
252 posts

I am so very sorry for your loss, Jean. My mother died while I was abroad a few years ago. It’s such a surreal experience to fly home to this kind of loss. My sincere condolences.

Posted by
9891 posts

Jean, oh my goodness, I am so sorry. It has always been clear from all of your posts how much you and your husband adore each other. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so grateful that you were there in Abruzzo with Nelly and that a Forum friend was physically with you to get you back to Rome in your shock and grief. And I love that Priscilla (and perhaps others) were reaching out to you in real time.

Going to go say a prayer for you and your kids right now. Blessings to Nelly and Priscilla for being there for you. May your travels home be safe and without complications, at least.

Posted by
6744 posts

Jean, I am so very sorry to hear this news. Everyone's prayers and best wishes will be with you.

This is such an eloquent trip report.

Posted by
1486 posts

Jean, you are so brave and so generous to share this with us. Thank you.

Posted by
9891 posts

Very well put, Nancy. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re exactly right. Thank you for your grace, Jean.

Posted by
538 posts

Oh Jean, I'm truly sorry for your loss. I'll admit, I didn't realize the significance of the title of this thread. I was just so excited to hear about your trip and as I read, I was forming questions I wanted to ask since I'm looking forward to exploring some of the area you covered and it sounds like your style of travel is similar to mine. I'll ask those questions eventually, but for now I'll just say again how sorry I am for your loss. It sounds like he was a good man and supportive husband.

Posted by
2651 posts

Jean - I am sorry for the loss of your beloved husband.

Posted by
4305 posts

I've never felt so emotional reading a Trip Report before, and that's before you threw the curveball about your husband. My condolences. But thank you for still writing it.

I loved this comment;

People often blow through Alberobello, but I encourage you to stay.
When the tourists leave in the evenings, and before they arrive in the
mornings, you’ll be able to commune with the town, past and present,

There are so many places I've visited that I'm glad I ignored the opinions of not to visit because it's touristy, crowded, etc. I'm sure I'll be able to cut and paste this sentence in a future Trip Report.

I also loved your taxi story when you reached Sicily. I've been telling a similar story about Naples.

Posted by
4946 posts

Agreeing with KRS, I began reading your trip report while you were still adding your entries. I was thinking how lovely your trip sounds and how I might enjoy some of your same destinations. Those thoughts can wait.

Thank you for sharing with us your journey, including its stark, but helpful, reminders of life's realities.

Posted by
243 posts

As CW said, I also begin reading your entries while you were still adding them. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. I hope it will inspire many others to take that step into the unknown, uncertain and wonderful world of travel. What a blessed life you have be given.

Posted by
66 posts

Jean - What a lovely tribute to your husband. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by
6744 posts

Jean- I've just been to my local Church, lit a candle and said a prayer for you

Posted by
140 posts

Jean, as I was reading your report I was thinking what an excellent writer you are.
So very sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved husband.

Posted by
5159 posts

Jean, what a well-written and heartfelt tribute to your husband. I've never met you, yet am feeling a profound sense of loss.
Please keep us updated as you move through this heartbreaking journey. Thank you for being such an integral part of this Forum. All my sympathies.

Posted by
14285 posts

Jean, you know my heart is breaking for you and your precious Dan. He was such an awesome guy!

My fondest memory of him is after a local travel group meet up. Some jerks had blocked in another group member's car by parallel parking inches from her front and back bumpers. We all walked across the street to assess the situation and Dan said to Terry something like if you'll trust me, I'll get it out for you. We all knew he was a Montana guy who'd probably driven every possible rig. In he got, zip, zap it was out in less than a minute. The hero walked off into the sunset!

Posted by
49 posts

So sorry Jean to hear. My heart goes out to you. Take care. Judy

Posted by
7025 posts

Jean, I'm just sitting here stunned, and my heart is breaking for you. Dan must have been such an incredible guy, and I know that you had a wonderful marriage and life together. I'm sure that he and the memories of him will stay in your heart forever.

My thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by
10402 posts

Jean, my heart aches for you. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband. I hope you can cherish the memories of your 45 years together and that they bring you comfort in the difficult time ahead of you. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Posted by
338 posts

Jean, Pam forwarded this to me…as we read your post, John and I are sitting in an olive grove near Pienza. We’re going to Spello for Le Infiorate, and while we won’t be meeting, we will be holding you and your family in our hearts. Dan was a lovely person.

Posted by
16122 posts

Jean, was having such a great time reading through your wonderful report, and then got to your last entry..... I wish I could find the right words of comfort for you but in absence of those, know that my thoughts are with you, and I hope you find peace in the cherished memories you made together.

Posted by
26 posts

Jean,

I am not on the Forum at all right now, life has been very busy. I’m not able to make a regular meet ups anymore because I am working on Saturdays, but think of you all often and hope to resume this fall. Pam forwarded this to me, thankfully.

I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. Today would’ve been my parents 68th wedding anniversary. As you know, my mother passed away 12 hours after I landed in Romania last fall.

I am very grateful, like you mentioned, that you took that special trip with him last year. I hope in time, your wonderful, happy memories will ease the grief of the loss of a longtime partner and best friend.

Posted by
3249 posts

I was really enjoying your greatly detailed report, Jean, and how happy you sounded being out and about in Italy; then I read about your dear husband.
I’m so so sorry, and sad for you and your family.
You sound like an amazingly strong woman.
Sending much sympathy to you.

Posted by
459 posts

Jean, I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband. I am sending you and your kids condolences and keeping you all in my thoughts. I am glad you had many wonderful years and adventures together.

Posted by
5260 posts

Dear Jean,

I am without words…

Thank you for sharing your deepest sorrow with us all.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by
186 posts

Jean, I have no good words. I had been reading your trip report and gushing over your eloquent writing, telling my husband how your writing makes me want to visit the towns you described. I am so very sorry for the loss of your husband. I will be sending comforting thoughts your way for a long time. Even though I have never met you in person I feel I know you a little from your wonderful posts on this forum and please know I care.

Traveler Girl

Posted by
6378 posts

Dear Jean, how terrible this is for you, and how kind and thoughtful of you to share it with us.

I’ll give Stan an extra hug tonight, and tell him it’s in honor of you and Dan.

Posted by
497 posts

Oh Jean, no words …. I’m so sorry. You have been such an inspiration and an automatic read for me with all your travels with your husband and the solo trips. May God bless and hold you and your family close.

Posted by
308 posts

Jean,

I feel I have gotten to know you in the past year of exchanged messages as well as simply reading your posts.

So sorry to hear that you lost your husband while you were on this trip that you’ve planned so carefully and that you took with his blessings.

May Dan’s memory be a blessing.

Posted by
2494 posts

I'm so sorry about your loss, Jean. Wishing you comfort in the days and weeks ahead.

Posted by
473 posts

I'll be hugging my wife extra tight tonight.

Our sorrow for your loss, Jean.

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
2092 posts

Jean, I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by
960 posts

Jean, please accept my sincere condolences.

I also have a husband who is very supportive of my solo travels. I can't imagine being as generous as you with the help your trip report report is providing others if I had just faced what you did. Thank you for sharing this tribute to your husband.

Posted by
2599 posts

Jean-

I was very much enjoying your trip report and then got to the last part about the list of your husband. I am so very sorry.

I very much admired how you both figured out how to do what you loved together and to give the other the space and time to do what you loved individually.

Beth

Posted by
2227 posts

Jean,

I'm so sorry. I lost my husband, who had been such an exceptional traveling companion, 51 weeks ago today. It is so hard.

I will say that I hope I can eventually go in the same manner he did. There is no good way to lose someone but, for him, it was a great way to go (speaking from the point of view of my husband's illness and death).

Sincerely,

Janet

Posted by
1503 posts

Jean, what a very well written trip report! I'm so sorry for your loss. How blessed you were to have such a great relationship and a husband who was so supportive of your independent travel!!!!

It also strikes me what a supportive and kind community this is.

Posted by
797 posts

Dear Jean, I really enjoyed your detailed trip report, and suddenly realized you had just lost your husband in the midst of what sounded like such a wonderful trip, in which he supported you wholeheartedly. I'm just gobsmacked you still took the time to write to all of us sharing your joy of solo travel. Such a gift to share with us, thank you. I just can't imagine... Big virtual hugs.

Posted by
3262 posts

Jean, I am so sorry for your loss and recognize how hard your long trip home is/was. Sending light and love to you.

Posted by
5688 posts

Jean,

I am so very sorry for the loss of your dear husband.

Your report was lovely, a real gift to the forum members. I read every word, thinking how much I would like to go back to Italy and visit the places you were writing about. I was so sad to get to the end and read of your loss. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

Posted by
2921 posts

Jean, I’m so very sorry for your loss.
What a wonderful trip you were having. Your trip report made me feel like I was traveling with you. Then I read your last entry and wanted to cry. My heart goes out to you. Words cannot express the sadness of losing your husband.

Posted by
3823 posts

I am so very sorry for your loss.
Deepest and most sincere condolences to you.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
I hope you find some comfort knowing that many of us on this forum are thinking of you during this time.

Posted by
66 posts

You have my deepest sympathy. What a shock to lose your husband. I am very sorry for your loss.

[Trip-related: Your report is so interesting and helpful. I have been to all these places, but with a rental car, so it's good to learn of alternatives. What a wonderful trip you were having. I'm glad to read that someone was available to drive you back to the airport in your moment of shock and grief.]

Posted by
95 posts

Jean, this breaks my heart. Was it about a year ago after our travel meeting at Woops that I found that the cars parked in front and behind me on the street left me unable to move my Jeep. I had planned to wait till someone came to move a car, but your husband insisted he could get me out of that tight squeeze. He went as far as removing a trailer hitch from the car in front to gain just enough space to get my car out of that tight spot, then he reattached the trailer hitch and off we all went.
He was such a kind man, I’m so sorry for your loss. Prayers to you and your family.

Posted by
2499 posts

What a shock for you and your family! I’m very sorry for your loss. Praying for comfort and peace for you in facing the coming days. God bless you.

Posted by
25 posts

Jean, Your thorough report is certainly appreciated and will be so helpful on our upcoming trip to many of the same places. I enjoyed your writing style and all of the details you provided. My sincerest condolences on the loss of your husband. May his memory be a blessing for you and your family.

Posted by
2523 posts

Ditto what the Webmaster just said perfectly:

Posted by Webmaster Edmonds, WA, USA 05/28/24 12:42 PM 950 posts
♥♥♥♥♥

Posted by
85 posts

Jean,

We are absolutely heartbroken for you and your family. Please know that we will continue to hold you in our prayers not just today, but also in the weeks and months to come.

Posted by
7465 posts

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words to my family & me. They are appreciated. I am grateful for much in the midst of such a big loss.

Posted by
4480 posts

Jean, I'm so sorry for you and your family. I'm glad you had that great trip with him last summer. Another reminder that we should "seize the day" because we don't know the future. We know someone whose husband also died sitting in his chair. An easy exit for them, but such a shock for the family.

Posted by
3994 posts

So sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your wonderful husband, Jean. May you and your family find comfort in his memory.

Posted by
631 posts

Jean, all I have are these inadequate words - Sorry for your loss.
Same thing happened to me that happened to 'indyhiker' above.

Posted by
327 posts

Jean,
I'm extending my condolences along with all your other friends that you have made on the forum. I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family. Thank you sharing.

Lynn

Posted by
756 posts

Jean,
I'm so, so sorry to learn about the loss of your husband. I didn't know until I saw your note today about skipping the online meeting this month. Thank you for sharing your story and what a beautiful tribute to your husband.
My heart goes out to you during this difficult time.

Christine

Posted by
1530 posts

Jean, my deepest condolences. I also just learned of your loss from reading the travel meeting post. Thank you for sharing your trip report. I’m hoping that these responses will help you in your healing.

Posted by
14 posts

So sorry for your loss Jean. Thank you for sharing your trip and beautiful tribute with us.

Posted by
968 posts

Dear Jean,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute with us all. Your love for your family and travel has always been so apparent. I love that you and your husband have so many amazing memories from all over the world — you are inspirational to me.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Posted by
7 posts

Jean, I only found out about your husband passing yesterday. I am so very sorry to hear such tragic news, and my heart breaks for you thinking of how difficult that must have been to be abroad. Will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as your heart grieves the loss of your beloved husband.

Posted by
173 posts

I was on vacation in Puglia last month and visited many of the same locations. We may have passed while at the St. Nicholas festival in Bari or perhaps sat nearby in Alberobello on one of the benches under the trees in the little triangle square. I have been widowed six years. Since my husband's passing I have taken 4 "solo" trips (all in Europe) but each as part of a group tour. It is difficult as we had so often talked about how nice it was going to be to travel after retirement. Thank you for your courage to share your experience. I have been considering going truly solo, at my own pace, to Europe.
You are my inspiration.
My condolences.

Posted by
7465 posts

Pj, I will comment here but also send you a PM in case you don’t come back to this post. I am glad to hear that you have felt comfortable traveling with a group tour. Isn’t the Puglia area beautiful?

I think a solo trip would be a true gift to yourself since you are considering it. Here’s a few ideas that might appeal to you:

  • Start your next trip with a short guided tour and then finish it with 1-2 weeks traveling solo - or reverse order. That way the entire first trip isn’t all solo time in case you don’t like it.

  • Choose one of your hobbies to do during a solo trip. I had signed up for a sketching week in Orvieto for Fall that I had to cancel, but it would have been a week of art & two weeks of solo travel.

  • Begin your solo trip in 1-2 familiar cities to get started. It’s nice to get over jet lag in an easy place for you to navigate. I’ve been to Stresa multiple times, but it’s still my first spot if I am flying into Milan. It’s relaxing, beautiful and serene, plus the pretty lake. You probably have a place that comes to mind.

  • Pick an easy itinerary. Set yourself up for success for this first one. : )

Posted by
173 posts

Thank you Jean for taking time to pass on helpful tips to those of us who need encouragement in making solo travel a reality- I've sent you a message.
I wish you well during this difficult transition.

Posted by
6102 posts

Jean, I just found this post in my little bit of research I'm doing to plan a trip to Southern Italy for my husband and me. First, I am so sorry for your loss. I understand how difficult it is to plan and take trips given the uncertain health of family members. My dad passed two weeks after we returned from a trip to Sicily. It was hard to go on that trip, and I applaud you and your lovely husband for encouraging the travel.

I was really interested in your discussion of your short stays and process. We've always felt similarly, and I often feel I have to justify our shorter stays vs. the idea of day trips. This strategy does require solid planning and organization. For me, traveling with the shorter stays when necessary, reduces backtracking and allows us to be in some popular locations in the early morning and late in the day when the atmosphere can be completely different. We certainly plan to overnight in Alberobello vs. doing that as a day trip. That said, there are certainly a fair amount of times when a day trip just makes sense.

I plan to ask you some questions when I really begin to plan this trip. It sounds like you take impreciable notes. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss and take care of yourself.

Posted by
7465 posts

Thank you, Jules. I hope you have a lot of fun planning your trip! This is such a nice area to visit!

”I understand how difficult it is to plan and take trips given the uncertain health of family members.”

My husband had no known health problem, other than the typical 60’s aging. His death was completely unexpected. It was quite a shock when I got the news in Sulmona.

Posted by
6102 posts

Jean, I'm sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, that would be a huge shock.

Posted by
6 posts

Jean,
I was excited reading your posts like a wonderful travel journal. Your writing is captivating and very enjoyable. We haven't even been to Europe yet and I already want to plan a second trip off of your notes. My heart found joy for you when you found a church service that spoke to you and strangers welcomed you, and broke for you, for your last post. Congratulations on 45 years, that is something to celebrate these days, especially. I hope my hubby and I get to see 45 too. (We're at 21 now). Thank you for sharing your stories with us and the burden of grief. I will be praying for you.

Posted by
1973 posts

Wow. Jean, your love of independent travel and solo as well tugged at my heartstrings, even before the cataclysmic news. My wife and I of 44 years this October have made three trips to Italy, with a fourth one coming up next April with two of my cousins. She lets me do all the planning because I enjoy doing it, and trusts me implicitly in this facet of our existence. Other aspects of our shared experiences? Not so much at times, but from your posts I will no doubt appreciate her perspectives more.

You have a writer's observant style that is reminiscent of another longtime poster, Zoe, who passed a few years back. She was a fan of the paths less traveled, and we all grooved on her every word. Looking forward to seeing many more of your posts, Jean. Hugs.

Posted by
7465 posts

”You have a writer's observant style that is reminiscent of another longtime poster, Zoe, who passed a few years back. She was a fan of the paths less traveled, and we all grooved on her every word.”

Jay, what a very special comment to hear that I would remind you of dear Zoe! I was corresponding with her in 2017 when I was planning my first Italy solo trip in 2018. She had great advice since I had always planned previous trips with my husband traveling with me. When I shared with her that I was concerned about dining alone (since the meals always seemed so social in Italy), she reassured me with this comment that still makes me smile: “Italy wants to feed you!” : )

Posted by
7465 posts

Vintagemorning, thank you! I appreciate your prayers. : ). I miss him so much! … which speaks to how very kind he was to me, our family, and community.

That made me smile that you’re already thinking about trip #2. It’s a wonderful country to visit!

Posted by
2744 posts

Oh my gosh, I missed this report when it was posted and just saw it today. I cannot imagine getting such tragic news out of the blue. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope all your happy memories with your wonderful husband and the love of your family and friends sustain you in the days ahead.

It was so kind of you to share this report with us. Love and prayers to you and your family.

Posted by
787 posts

I also just read your wonderful report. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.

Posted by
2252 posts

I too am late the game here in reading and finding out. I am so sorry, Jean. I am glad that you had someone there to hep you when you needed it most. Big hugs to you.

Posted by
439 posts

Jean,
I was puzzled by your title because I, too, had missed the original posting and just discovered it today. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a shock to bear and even more so while across the sea. Courage as you face the coming year of "firsts". May your memories and the love of family gently hold your heart as you journey with grief.
Cheryl