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Remembering Zoe...

I'm contemplating a return trip to Italia!

So, I began searching the forum for inspiration on new places to explore.

Upon my search, I came across many of our late friend Zoe's trip reports and thought I'd share them with you.

I'm truly grateful for all the delightful trip reports that Zoe shared with us, and for the thousands of her helpful replies. Thanks Zoe!

Here are Zoe's 2016 trip reports:

And her last trip in 2017...

Posted by
4526 posts

I'd love to know if Zoe helped you plan your trip to her beloved Italia.

And... I'd appreciate her recommendations in terms of accommodations (not found in her trip reports), restaurants, gelaterias, and pastry shops!

I know she loved pistachio gelato and sfogliatelle!

Grazie mille!

Posted by
123 posts

Thank you for posting. I so enjoyed rereading some of these and remembering all the good advice Zoe gave out. I remember the shock at the news of her death.

Posted by
197 posts

Thank you for putting all of her reports together in one location - I've bookmarked. I didn't private message her so no information other than what she posted. But her responses were always so thoughtful and helpful and I'm pretty sure she responded to some of my questions when I was putting together our trip for 2017. Her voice is missed.

Posted by
4526 posts

Kathy,
I miss her too...

I'd love to hear about something you remember her saying... : )

Don't underestimate the kindness of strangers.

She reminded me of this upon my return from my first solo trip to Italy; when I wrote about two perfect strangers who helped me find a hidden train station in Cuzzago.

Posted by
11678 posts

I'd love to hear about something you remember her saying... : )

A favorite via private message: I mentioned how much I hate the word "quaint" and she responded, "Quaint my a**." I laughed so hard that I had breakfast coming out of my nose.

And 'specially for you....a lift from a personal note from her (have a hanky ready):

I just read Priscilla's trip report on Lucca - heart of gold in that
girl!

Posted by
4526 posts

Aww... Kathy...
Thanks for sharing, now I’m crying, and speechless😢 ...

Right back at you Zoe, we miss your heart of gold!

Posted by
4526 posts

Kent,

I’m sorry if you hadn’t heard...
We were all shocked by the news.

Posted by
9449 posts

What a lovely way to honor Zoe, Priscilla! She was such a treasure, so low key and funny! My fondest memory is of here spending Christmas in Roma, watching our cats so we could go to London. And to see Rome through her eyes was a treat.

One night, we took her to dinner at our favorite seafood restaurant in a rather remote neighborhood. It was a distinctly Roman experience. We took a taxi back and the driver dropped us at our place on his way to take Zoe to her hotel, near the Centro Storico as she was leaving the next morning. We paid the fare to our place and Zoe said it was no problem to cover the rest, which would probably have been €12-14. Afterward she told me she looked in her wallet and had only €10 left, so she said to the driver “Get me there for €10! It’s all I have!” The driver raced through the (luckily) empty streets of an August night and deposited her near Piazza Navona with a few cents to spare!

Posted by
11678 posts

Hahahaha! Great story, Laurel!
You two were such good friends; her passing was particularly difficult for you. :O(

Posted by
7736 posts

Priscilla - so very odd you posted this. I was just looking thru PM's in the last week looking for something and came across a "set" of back and forth's with Zoe so she's been on my mind.

Laurel, what a great story!

Posted by
4526 posts

Thanks for sharing that funny story, Laurel!
I can just imagine the taxi driver zooming along the streets , and Zoe looking at the taxi meter!

Zoe had a great sense of humor.
Years ago, there was a post about pickpockets in Roma. I can't find that post but Zoe wrote that once when she was standing in a very crowded bus, a man kept getting closer to her and she finally said to the man; "if you get any closer, you will have to marry me!"
(In Italian, of course!)

Posted by
11681 posts

Priscilla, thank you. We are going to Matera and Naples on our next Italy trip and I can’t wait to read Zoe’s reports on these two places...

Posted by
4526 posts

Lola,

You’re welcome!

I’m hoping to travel to those places in the near future too.

Posted by
4526 posts

Here are a few more of my favorite posts by Zoe:

And... I love Zoe’s simple, yet insightful, reply to Pam’s post

Pam, you really should post this after you make your own memories! And you will make lots of them!

Keep making wonderful memories!

Posted by
1727 posts

I am the 'Jay' in the link to the story on Benevento above...

Never met Zoe, never even PM'd her much at all. I just admired her knowledgeable yet sarcastic view of what she saw. She liked me because I liked off-the-beaten-path places & restaurants, but she made the prose come to life better than I ever could have.

Tried finding my favorite bit of writing of Zoe's in the links, but couldn't. It related to a visit to a little town that she had some ancient relatives--maybe in Le Marche?--on a windy, chilly day. She had observed an old man walking against the wind, hands clasped behind his back. So Zoe surmised that her ancestors had to have walked that way, so she started walking that way as well.

She'd never like to hear this, but she truly was the patron saint of this forum.

Posted by
4526 posts

Hi Jay,

She'd never like to hear this, but she truly was the patron saint of this forum.

You're absolutely correct, she wouldn't like that.

I think this is what you're referring to:

For me, this was a very personal trip. I spent an inordinate and perhaps impolite amount of time looking at the faces of people who looked like me. Some of them looked back in the same way. I walked down the street, overhearing conversations in the local dialect, and understood every word. I remembered my father's voice, and unconsciously took on his posture while walking, hands folded behind my back. It's a good way to walk in a city where the wind blows almost constantly.

I always enjoyed reading her eloquent trip reports and once I asked her if she'd consider writing a book. Her reply was; "Write a book? Not me!"

Posted by
4526 posts

Edited today...
Decided to correct spelling errors I’d missed when originally posted.
Ciao!

Posted by
127 posts

Priscilla, Zoe had such a kind, quiet confidence in her travels...I learned so much from her posts...and yours as well! We’re going to be in Palermo next week, and we’ll be having a caffe shakerato in the local cafe across from the Teatro Massimo in her memory. I’m sure we’ll find it easily!

Posted by
4526 posts

Thanks Cathy!

Wishing you a wonderful trip!
I’m sending you a PM.

I never met Zoe. But, I did read a lot of her posts. She was a RS community regular. I think the way you listed her reports/comments as a memorial was a very kind act on your part. It took time for you to collate her info. and list it for the rest of us. I appreciate your effort Priscilla. Thanks!

Posted by
30 posts

Priscilla, thank you for posting the links to Zoe's comments. I just read her post on Roma--what a wonderful way she had of expressing herself! I think she would have been great fun to travel with, given her zest for new experiences and her openness to the people she met along the way.

Posted by
317 posts

Thanks for this list! I am remembering Zoe tonight and thinking of how she enriched all of our lives. Missing you Zoe!

Posted by
1465 posts

Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. I’ve enjoyed re-reading them in light of our recent trip to Italy. We didn’t care for Rome the first time we went, but fell in love with it on this latest trip, probably because we had more time. I can read her posts and see Roma through her eyes. I also loved and agreed with her posts on Napoli and Matera.

Posted by
1727 posts

Almost a shame that most (if not all, I didn't check) of Zoe's posts have been closed due to inactivity. If not, no doubt new responses would keep her name alive as we all know how an old post can get a random response, then it's off and running again once readers re-discover the value of the original post.

Zoe's posts/stories had such content, such attention to detail, stuff that only a writer--heck, a journalist would find interesting to note. I knew she was chiding me at one point as I waxed about how I like to visit the out-of-the-way places, but then I had actually only been to Rome, Chianti, Florence, Naples and the A.C. She got me to Orvieto, then got me to follow my heritage to Sant' Arsenio, a little mountain village in Campania SE of Salerno. My visions in Sant' Arsenio matched hers in Benevento. The people are the story, these places that haven't been affected--good or bad--from tourism and to the untrained eye, with the cold wind & the graffiti, would be labeled as boring.

But most importantly she got me to see beneath the surface in Rome--and you have to work at it--isolating every encounter with a local to immediately put yourself in their life, how are you being sized up, by them? Are they happy to converse with you, or are they indifferent, where this meeting is much more important to you than it is to them. In 'my' Roma (maybe I can call it that after a couple more trips!), I saw almost exclusively the former. The woman selling you a blood orange at the market or the man serving up an afternoon fizzy orange-colored aperatif--enjoying the encounter and making it memorable for me.

Zoe taught me that...

Jay

Posted by
4526 posts

Well said Jay!

I know we all learned from Zoe, and her voice is greatly missed on this forum.

Zoe taught me to go out of my comfort zone, to make every encounter significant and memorable, and to be grateful for the kindness of strangers...

Posted by
3461 posts

Hi Priscilla,

THANK YOU for compiling Zoe's posts! In a few months I will be beginning to plan a trip to Italy next year. My oldest daughter is coming with me - her first time to Europe.

Here's some comments from Zoe on the private messages we shared about a trip I was planning to Italy. My favorite comment she said in one of our notes back & forth was this one: "Dining alone: restaurants are used to single diners, and Italy wants to feed you, so dine the way you like. " When I felt self-conscious on that first solo trip eating alone, I would think of Zoe's "Italy wants to feed you" comment, and it made me smile.

Hi, Jean!
Sounds like a fabulous trip!
I like Hotel Piccolo Puccini in Lucca - my room looked out on a statue of Puccini in the little piazza below, which had lots of restaurants and bars around it, but got quiet enough at night. I think breakfast was not included, but they offer it for a small charge (or it was small three years ago). Lots of churches, great shopping (excellent olive oil), and The Wall. I could have lived on that wall!
I also prefer the anonymity of hotels, but I have stayed at a few B&Bs that were excellent and not too intrusive, if you know what I mean. So that's kind of a toss-up for me. Location has become more important to me.
Having tours, concerts and opera gives you a reason to be out at night, I sometimes retire too early because I don't have an evening plan. But if my lodging is well-located, I can at least pop out for a coffee or cocktail in the evening.
Do you have a hotel in Milano? I like Hotel Berna, but usually opt for Hotel Garda because it's so much cheaper! Try to go to the Duomo roof, and to Castello Sforzesco museum.
Your packing list looks great, too. Each year I scale back by one piece of something, sometimes more. I travel for 90-100 days, so I take a rain jacket, three pair of trousers, five tops, one very light sweater or pashmina, an extra pair of shoes, and a week+1 day of undies and socks.
I hope you keep in touch!

Posted by
4526 posts

Hi Jean!

Thanks for sharing Zoe’s comments!

“Italy wants to feed you”

I love it!

It’s great that you’ll be traveling to Italy with your daughter next year!

Let’s keep making wonderful memories 😉

Posted by
4065 posts

Thanks, Priscilla. I just bookmarked the one about traveling with friends. We're planning a trip with friends in 2021, and I know we're going to need to set ground rules. They are dear friends and we're all very fond of one another, but we have different interests and, I suspect, travel styles.

Posted by
2016 posts

Hi Priscilla,

Thank you for continuing to highlight Zoe's trip reports. I woke up yesterday thinking about planning our Fall 2020 journey. Lo and behold I was reminded of Zoe's amazing tour of Sicily. Yes, Sicily is calling us back! Our first trip was in 2014. We took a Southern Italy/Sicily tour. Sicily was limited to the Eastern region. Now we are looking at following Zoe's itinerary. We will revisit some of our favorite areas as well. That will include the same B & B in Ortigia. Zoe's memory will be honored again. Grazie!

Posted by
4526 posts

Jean,

Thanks for pointing out my mistake of linking the wrong post!

I’ve edited it with the correct one. 😉

I also checked all the other links, just to make sure, and it looks like they're all correct now, thanks again!

Posted by
4526 posts

Janis,

It’s wonderful to hear that you’ll be traveling to Sicily once again!

I loved my trip to Sicily, not only because I got to experience its beauty, but mainly because of the lovely people I met, including those who had met Zoe...

Enjoy planning your trip to beautiful Sicilia!

Edited to add...

If you plan to visit Lipari, consider staying at Residence Acanto. [Recommended by my friend Charlene ; )
I stayed in the 2 room apartment with terrace (#103), and truly saw myself living there, but only if I didn't have a family back home.
You can read about my visit here, if you're interested. Enjoy!

Posted by
2016 posts

Priscilla, thanks so much for the Lipari recommendation! It looks perfect. We are so ready to visit some quaint towns after our recent "big city tours." Lipari has been on our radar for a long time. Looks like September weather should be fine there. We are possibly looking at flying in and out of Milan this time? We usually go through Rome. We shall see.

Posted by
4526 posts

Janis,
You're welcome!

We are possibly looking at flying in and out of Milan this time?

That's exactly what I did when I traveled to Sicily last year. I flew into Malpensa, then after a couple of nights, (getting over jet lag...) I took an EasyJet plane to Palermo. After my visit, I flew EasyJet from Catania, back to Malpensa.
I booked my EasyJet tickets in advance at a great price!

Posted by
1505 posts

Just found a couple of short Zoe comments in my email:

I love Paestum, I go there every year. At the museum, I found my surname in the coin collection, spelled the way I spell it - very unusual. I'm claiming Cnaus Cornelius Blasio as an ancestor until I find out he's not.

I am in better shape for Urbino than I was thirty years ago, when an 80-year-old woman passed me on one of the uphill streets to Rafaello's house. It was humiliating.

EDITED to add: If you have not visited Urbino, do put it on your list! And be sure to walk up Via Raffaello, surely one of the steepest streets in Italy (which is saying something!).

Posted by
4526 posts

Thanks Janet!

I love her comment!

I'm claiming Cnaus Cornelius Blasio as an ancestor until I find out he's not.