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What was your number one magical moment in Italy?

I’m a first timer Rick Steve tour member. Going to “the best of Italy” next year. I’ve spent some time in Italy for work and fun.
I love this tour forum and realize that many people here just post for the fun of it. I Also to truly help others on their journeys. I love all of your advice and memories. Here’s a new one. I read the reviews on each trip, but if you are interested in sharing with others your most magical moments of Italy- I challenge you!

Favorite- you can only choose one, please include site info (restaurants, tour guides etc). I like to write about my travel experiences. Please feel free to let your imagination soar!

Posted by
69 posts

Also- just so you know.. I’m not a tour guide. I’m just a person that loves to travel and discuss travel. Signed up for Rick Steve’s “best of Italy starting September 6th 2020. Cannot wait!

Posted by
1191 posts

I once had the Tempietto to myself for about a quarter of an hour,
and the Spanish church that it is now in the yard of was being set up for a wedding,
and I got to go into the back office and have a mostly hand-gestures conversation with the current clerics.
Before the place had been christianized it was a Mars temple and that still comes through.

Posted by
1873 posts

My most magical moment in Italy? NYE in Rome, the eternal city, right in front of the Colosseum with U2's New Years Day blaring. It was fantastic, fireworks everywhere, people poping Prosecco, hugs and kisses all around, both locals and foreigners alike!

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69 posts

I travelled by myself thruout Europe and
I remember moments like this... I love traveling alone. Don’t you think that people are so nice? I think- so many times I was saved by kind people. Your experience sounds magical. Love to you! Safe and happy travels. It’s so cool to see things you once imagined being real. Thanks for sharing.

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5728 posts

T
After ten trips to Italy, I still remember walking into l’Accademia in Florence and seeing Michelangelo’s “David” for the first time. It took my breath away!

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598 posts

I was just going to say the same thing as Suki, about the David. Just amazing.

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69 posts

U2 - me and my girlfriends
Favorite band from college. How cool! Here’s a fun story. My friend Tina moved to Kauai, Hawaii and opened up a coffee shop in Hanalei. Bono used to go there regularly. Tina sent me his tip, on a 100 dollar bill with drawings. U2 is an awesome band and Bono is a kind traveler. Tina is the best friend ever! I cherish my 100 dollar bill!

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1873 posts

Lisa, what a fun story, U2 is one of my favorite bands too, saw them once live in Barcelona, absolutely unforgettable!

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69 posts

Love your memories, Suki and Joel. I agree. The first time I went to Florence my mom and I were trying so hard to control our emotions but burst down in tears at seeing David. For art lovers- it is something incomparable to see it in person . We are such babies we even cried outside at the statue. Oh lord. 😘💋

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1956 posts

After ancestral research we found out my husband had family in Venice dating back to the 1600's. We went there last year and located the family home on the Grand Canal. Before we knew the location I had taken a random photo from the Guggenheim Collection. Lo and behold the family home was straight across the canal. That was our magical moment.

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1846 posts

Easter Sunday in the tiny village of Scicli in Sicily. Oh, my gosh....what a celebration! It began with a parade (after Mass) through the town that seemingly included all the residents; the elderly, the young, and families including babies carried in arms. Everyone was dressed in his or her finest. The large gathering followed talented musicians and men carrying a huge statue of the Risen Christ, everyone singing and dancing down the main street. There were flowers everywhere and fireworks after the parade ended. I have never seen such joyousness in a crowd of this size. It was a "magical day" and one I will remember always.

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2518 posts

Sitting on the terrace of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum at sunset, watching the play of colors on the palazzos on the far side of the Grand Canal. It was my last night in Venice and capped off a beautiful week. Thanks to Gene Openshaw, a couple of Bellinis on the way to the museum helped set the mood!

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1260 posts

I think mine was in Venice, watching a big rainstorm come in over the Grand Canal. I was standing at the south end of the Accademia Bridge. A gondolier brought his passengers in over the choppy water, the sky looked increasingly lurid, then it started pouring. Afterwards, there was a rainbow and the most gorgeous sunset.

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378 posts

I think it was 2008. We went to Castel Gandolfo for a Papal Audience. Unbeknownst to us it was also the Peach Festival with banners, bands, floats and a parade. At the audience the Peach Princess came out on the balcony and presented the Pope with a peach. It was a truly celebratory day.

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69 posts

Andi and Janis

Janis what an inspirational amazing
Celebration! That is such a great story ! I love your post!

Andi- that’s so cool that you are right next door to the Guggenheim. Every time I go to Venice. I read Peggy Guggenheim’s book. They sell it at the gift shop. And you can order it online. It’s so interesting to read her story.. then go to her gallery In Venice. Bohemian gal that had the most wonderful life privilege and stormy life. It makes the whole tour resonate. It’s kind of a little prequel. She does make Venice alive in the 20th century.
Thanks ladies!

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69 posts

Thanks for your replies, it’s a bit late here in Ohio. Keep writing!

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2429 posts

January 1976, in the Villa Borghese, with just one of my friends...no other tourists, seeing Bernini's Daphne and Apollo. It's still my favorite sculpture and I returned again to see it in 2000, but the VB was not so empty this time, but still a manageable amount of visitors.

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1573 posts

Seeing the statue of David in Florence on my 17 Day Best of Italy tour! There were other magical moments but you asked for one.

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28 posts

We were a little unsure what we would think of Italy; we're not all that into art museums and churches, but there were so many highlights during our spring 2019 trip. The one experience that stands out is the Amazing Italy food tour in and around the market in Bologna. Not only did we learn a great deal about the history and development of Italian food, but the tasting was delicious: anti-pasta, wine, pasta, chocolates, espresso, and the best gelato.

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972 posts

Hearing the monks chanting in Gregorian chant at the abbey of Sant’Antimo.

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6237 posts

The just before sunset gondola ride on our 1st night in Venice ( activity category)

St Peters ( experience)

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818 posts

Hard to pick one moment in Italy! It I will settle on the perfect day I had there. During the day we visited Pompeii. I love history and Pompeii ranks as my favorite historic site. So I was already completely happy after wandering around in Pompeii all day. Then as the sun was setting, we walked down to the water and ate in some restaurant that I don’t remember the name. Our table looked out over the water the sun setting and Vesuvius in the background. The food was delicious, especially the risotto, the wine was perfect, the view breathtaking. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Afterwards we walked around and of course got gelato.

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335 posts

Sunset over Lake Como from Varenna during a thunderstorm. Just stunning

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13968 posts

Michelangelo's David. As I stood there in awe, I remembered what a friend had said to me about seeing it for the first time: I must have done something special in my life to be privileged to see it. I felt exactly the same way.

Second best, riding the vaporetto in the predawn mists to the Piazza and then watching the sunrise over the lagoon. That's truly when I discovered the magic of Venice.

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1039 posts

It is impossible to pick just one, but if I had to, I would pick Varenna. I was prepared for what I would see in all the other locations, but I was not prepared for how beautiful Varenna was in the early morning along the lake.

I have posted two, 10 minute videos of our 17 Day Best of Italy Tour before on the Forum. I think you will see beauty in every location we visited.

https://youtu.be/c5mdy0OzRC4

https://youtu.be/MZia6oOs8iA

Italy is amazing!

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407 posts

Just one? It would have to be from our first trip to Italy in 2011. In Milan on our first day we came up out of the metro station and the Duomo was there before us. We had seen the pictures and watched the videos, but nothing could have prepared us for that incredible cathedral. It set the tone for all that we were about to see and experience and was just the first of dozens of magical moments, on that and subsequent trips The first view of David, the Pantheon and Colosseum, the mosaics in Venice and Ravenna, and on and on...
Italy is truly like no other place on earth.

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3112 posts

I'm going to cheat and list 3 moments that you can potentially experience on your Best of Italy tour.

On my first visit to Florence back in 1999, I was on the top of the campanile (Duomo bell tower) at noon and was able to hear and see church bells ringing and swinging all around town. The bells weren't timed perfectly, so the sound started to build, reached it's height as the bells of the Duomo rang right below me and then the sound slowly faded. It probably only lasted 3-5 minutes in total, but I'll never forget it.

I visited the Last Supper in Milan as a tag-along with a group of school children. There are 2 frescos in the room, so while the teacher explained one fresco to the students I enjoyed the other one. I had the Last Supper all to myself for over 10 minues. Definitely a magical moment.

I've had more fantastic meals in Italy than I can even begin count. Cumulatively, those are the most magical moments of all.

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23585 posts

tough to pick one.

Probably on my first trip to Venice walking out of the station Santa Lucia and seeing the vista ahead of me with the Grand Canal from the top of the stairs.

many more if had been allowed more than one, several in Venice, a few in the Veneto, special times in Rome, and three or four south of Rome, and one east of Rome.

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1655 posts

I'm going to list two because the first magical moment can't be duplicated by others.

  1. When I was in Junior High school in 1966, I went on a summer People to People tour of Europe. There were 8 of us in our group and 64 students from the southeast made the entire group. Once the 8 were chosen, we spent months studying and preparing. Another member of the group was a cute little freckle faced 14 year old girl (I was all of 15). We started in Belgium and by the time we reached Italy, we were sitting together on the bus. On August 10, 1966 we found ourselves in Florence. After dinner, a few of us wandered down to the banks of the Arno to watch the sunset. We then returned to the hotel and before heading to our respective rooms, we had a little time to ourselves and I finally worked up enough courage to kiss the girl.

  2. Fast forward nearly 50 years to December 2015. That cute little girl and I returned to Tuscany to celebrate the anniversary of that first kiss. We stayed at Castillo di Verrazzano, just outside Greve. One of our day trips was to wander south and eventually end up at the Abbey Monte Oliveto. Our plan was to visit the abbey, have dinner and return for vespers celebrated in Gregorian chant. We told our plans to Marco, who was our server the week we were there. He insisted on helping us plan our route. He also mentioned that he loved Gregorian chant and had a few CDs.

We had a wonderful day ambling south and touring the abbey. They had a gift shop and offered CDs of the monks there. We thought of Marco and bought him a copy. We had a charming dinner at the restaurant nearby and returned for Vespers. There was the monks, a lady from a nearby town and us. A monk invited us to sit with them and even gave us books with the service. We were encouraged to join in on the responses. It was a very moving experience.

The next morning at breakfast Marco asked about our trip. Deb reached in her pocketbook and presented Marco with his Christmas present. Tears welled up in his eyes and he choked out "in momento" and rushed off. He came back with a small jar of honey produced by the winery for our Christmas present. Tears welled up in our eyes and there were hugs all around.

Our magical moments are when we connect with new friends while traveling. We've had similar experiences in other countries on other trips. While seeing the sights is wonderful, it's these experiences that are precious to us.

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173 posts

Seeing Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Bacillica...just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

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1720 posts

Two for me, actually from the same trip in February 2015, so it's like one--

In Salerno, we had checked in to our B&B, the caretaker warned us to not think about eating dinner early--like Americans are wont to do--and suggested we do the daily late-afternoon passeggiata in the meantime. What's that, we asked? Just go outside and walk the main drag, you'll see. So we did...locals, many of them arm in arm--men, women, children, strollers, workers. Waving at the shopkeepers, who were at their doors waving back. Good-natured catcalls in Italian, I could decipher plans being made about where to meet for an aperatif in a while. Just blew me away. And they do it every day!

Later that week, the owner of the Salerno B&B took my wife & I up into the Campania foothills to do ancestral research in the tiny mountain village of Sant' Arsenio. It was a windy, raw day, and unfortunately our pre-arranged plans didn't even come close to fruition. Disappointed to say the least, we stopped at a nondescript cafe for an espresso & cornetto before heading back to Salerno. Talking in my pidgin Italian to the twenty-something barrister, I mentioned something about trying to find locals with the surname of Mangieri. He said, "I'm a Mangieri". Chills, hair on back of neck, all that.

Bottom line is that it didn't lead to much except a chance meeting down the road with an old woman who came to the door dressed in black--and I couldn't understand much because she was talking so fast--that her husband had died many years before and there was a young man that came to visit her, also a Mangieri, about 5 years before and were we related to him? I said I had no idea. Then she invited us upstairs for lunch, even though it was 4:00 and we really needed to leave. We refused, citing that we had to get back to Salerno (for a cooking class), apologizing profusely with the hand gestures--I just didn't want her to be insulted. We hugged and then left to walk down the windy road to our car.

To this day I regret not accepting her offer to come upstairs. No matter what happened, it would have made a great story.

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1873 posts

@Jay - yes, lesson learned, always accept the Italian Grandma's invitation to lunch, no matter what! lol I'm sure that tourist cooking class would be the amateur hour compared to an authentic lunch with Granny Mangieri ;-)

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468 posts

It was the end of a brutal travel day... flight delays, multiple train connections, and a hot Circumvesuviana ride to Sorrento. By the time I got settled in, the sun had just set. I looked out over the hazy twilight on the Bay of Naples... Napoli sitting across the bay, Vesuvius looming with a ring of tiny clouds. All stress left my body, and I was just happy to be there. It was a vista of peace, and promises of adventure. My first trip to Italy had officially begun.

(Then had a great seafood dinner down at the old port, Taverna Azzura.)

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3382 posts

Only one? Whew! That’s like asking me which of our nine grandkids is my favorite!

Since others have mentioned Venice, which is totally magic, I will share the very special setting- the Parma Cathedral. I’ve stayed at twenty towns in Italy and usually stop inside a church or two at each site. I’ve seen interiors covered in gold, the Vatican, tiny village churches, etc. But when I walked into the Parma Cathedral, it felt personal and warm. The beautiful warm-toned frescoes lining the aisle, the inviting words of Bible verses in several languages, including English, in raised block letters on the front chairs, etc.

I returned again during the late afternoon to spend more time there. For all of the amazingly beautiful places we’ve seen in Italy (and we LOVED the RS Best of Italy tour!), the festivals I’ve been to, the classical concerts/opera, etc., if I can only pick one experience, this is it.

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3263 posts

It was my first time in Rome, Christmas season 1977. At the hostel in Florence I ran into an Australian woman I'd met at the hostel in Bath. We decided to go to Rome and share a room in a pensione there.

The train was standing room only, including us. We met a very nice Italian man who suggested he try to get us tickets for seats for midnight mass at the Basilica. It was way too late for that, but he had gotten some good advice for us.

It was to do our best to get to the standing area behind the last row of chairs where they intersected with the center aisle because the Pope would be carried down that aisle to the altar. He further advised that we should arrive in front of the Basilica no later than 22:00, make our way as far to the front of the crowd as we could and be prepared to hold hands and run to the entrance as soon as the doors opened at 23:00.

I'm not Catholic, but my new friend was. We followed his advice and joined the hymn singing that was going on outside. I'd never heard those hymns, so I learned a lot.

The doors opened at 23:00 and we did run in and get the exact spot recommended. We waited about an hour for the arrival of Pope Paul VI with all the other excited and breathless, but not quiet, people. Then a hush started from the back and steadily moved forward, accompanying the Pope as he was carried up the aisle.

He went right by, facing us, made eye contact and the sign of the cross to both of us and moved on. She was beyond thrilled and so was I. We were definitely in the right place at the right time.

The mass lasted about an hour. After it was over, people disappeared quickly into the night. We'd come on a bus, but there was neither public transportation nor any taxis to be seen by the time we got out. We realized that we were on our own and hoped we could find our way back to our pensione.

But we were once again lucky because another young woman joined up with us for the walk. It turned out that she'd been standing near us. She was an American architecture student and lived close to our pensione. She led us to our door and we had a great conversation along the way.

This, in all its parts, was an unforgettable and magical experience for me. I took a very early morning tour of the Sistine Chapel, the Basilica and the crypts when I was in Rome in 2017, almost 40 years later. I was particularly touched by seeing the tomb of Pope Paul VI. He died about 7 months after that midnight mass that left such an impression on me.

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3811 posts

Our 1st trip in 2008, walked out the door of Venice train station and fell in love. And just finished our 5th visit this morning, spending 4 nights (in London now) and the infatuation is still strong. Although it seemed our ‘quiet’ area we sleep is now more crowded...but this being our 5th trip, we hit some back areas which was lovely.

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1530 posts

I haven’t had mine yet, but I look forward to it with anticipation! I was in Florence once with a student tour group, but I got separated from the group and got lost on my way to see the David. Still haven’t seen it 35 years later. Hopefully, someday!

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959 posts

The entire country is magical! The best magical moments for me was when my husband and I met his relatives for the first time. Both his mother’s and father’s came in droves to meet us.
We had the best homemade Italian food ever!

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69 posts

WOW! Thank you SO much for your replies so far... I love these posts. Makes me even more excited for the trip!
Your stories are so wonderful... I hope everyone here -as I did - loved scrolling thru and reading each post.. reliving magical Italy!
@dougmac your story brought tears to my eyes! I’m a romantic and this is wonderful. I wish many years of happiness to you and your little freckle faced redhead! 😀

Thanks everyone! I hope to see more posts!
Lisa

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69 posts

@yosemite1 thank you so much for the videos! Wonderful! I’ve been scouring the “tour scrap books” for pictures and anecdotes. Your videos are so much fun! Looks like you had a great trip!

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69 posts

Everyone- I just read all of your posts again- TWICE! What wonderful stories you share... thank you thank you Grazie Mille!

I love this forum. I’m a super researcher- it gives me such joy to PLAN and execute a trip to fruition. If I won the lottery, I would just travel frugally from place to place, living adventures and meeting people and enjoying culture, food and those special travel moments we always have. Even the crappy experiences end up in our stories and memories with a filter that lets us look back in them fondly. This is our first “guided tour” I chose it because I’m going with 3 others going to Italy for the first time. I was excited because of the Itinerary and also we will
Learn so much and not have to worry about details. I love tours and learning all about the local sites. It makes the experience so much better. Thank you all again.. keep the stories coming... much love and happy travels to you all!

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1956 posts

Coming back to say that I am enjoying all the magical moment stories. Italy sure brings wonderful memories for traveler's. It's a special place. I especially applaud the OP Lisa g for starting this positive thread. Your enthusiasm is contagious! You have a lot to look forward to. Grazie.

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1609 posts

We happened upon an evening concert in Basilica San Vitale in Ravenna. The music was wonderful, but seeing the illuminated mosaics was spectacular.

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1039 posts

LisaG,

If you have any question about the Tour, you can send me a personal message. A couple of things I highly recommend. When in Varenna, hike to the castle above the town. The view is really good and the hike was fun. It does cost to go in. If you are looking for a good restaurant in Florence, I highly recommend “The Golden View.” If you eat before 6:00 pm, you should be able to get a table by the window without a reservation. At the Cinque Terre, I recommend that you take the boats, instead of the trains or walking. Your time there is limited. The view from the boats was great. An all day pass was around 23 Euros. Once we got to a town, we would explore the town and then hike to the hill above the town for another great view. In Rome, I highly recommend going to the top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument for a great view of Rome.

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32 posts

We've had many wonderful moments in Italy, but seeing Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" in Milan comes to mind.

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11573 posts

Yikes, it's so hard to choose just one but if forced to, it was a fascinating day spent on the Appia Antica. This is some of what I'd written about it for a different site:

"We jumped off the train at tiny Torricola one early May morning and crept cautiously along a narrow shoulder of modern highway to its crossing at another several thousand years older. Here, surrounded by quiet fields several miles outside of the busy center of Rome, we stepped onto one of the greatest achievements in Roman history, a pre-BC avenue so important to the story of the empire that ten of its once 365-mile reach have been preserved as a regional park.

Via Appia Antica was the first of many thousand of miles of road to eventually spring from the center of Rome to the remote provinces. These meticulously engineered surfaces of stone and concrete, enabling the great Roman armies to move troops and supplies quickly from one outpost to another, were instrumental to successful conquest and control of the expanding empire. Built on the orders of one Appius Claudius Cieco in 312 BC, the "Regina Viarum" - "Queen of Roads" - was a massive project with one goal: provide the shortest, most direct route possible from point A to B, obstacles be damned. I've read that a 39-mile stretch of it is still considered the longest straight road in Europe!

Aside from its purpose as a military artery, it was a triumphal way for victorious legions, trade route, and prestigious location for expensive villas, baths, an emperor's private circus, and tombs. Burials being forbidden inside the city walls, the busy road provided visibility for elaborate mausoleums and easy transport of the materials needed to construct them. More darkly, it was also the site of public executions and grisly display of the corpses as a fearful warning against rebellion and crime. Most famous are the recorded accounts of the miles and miles of decaying, crucified remains of 6,000 captives of the Spartacan revolt in 71 BC.

These are the scenes we tried to imagine as we made our way back into the city, past crumbling ruins and overgrown rubble of once-grand monuments and estates. Most of the original basalt pavers were covered over as this is still considered a drivable road (go figure) but a few feet of ancient surface had been exposed or reconstructed here and there so our feet could pad across cobbles the sandals of Romans trod over 2 millennia ago."

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60 posts

What a fun thread. I have had many over the years but the one that jumps out is the most recent. Got up early and went with my husband and 4 yr old granddaughter to breakfast outside in the almost empty piazza in front of the Duomo in Florence. As we were sitting there savoring our cornetti and bambalini my granddaughter looked at me with amazement in her eyes as she listened to the bells. It occurred to me that so often I neglected to pay attention to them but never again!

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213 posts

In March we stayed in Assisi for the first time. While in the TI office, I noticed a poster advertising a concert that night in the lower Basilica of San Francesco. Of course we went! It was a boys' choir from Japan, boys of all ages from preschool to young adults. They were accompanied by a youth symphony orchestra; several young men and women were featured as vocal soloists. The music was, to say the least, divine! Hearing these beautiful young voices in this beautiful place made for soaring musical notes...well, it still gives me chills when I think of it. And it reminds me to keep my eyes and ears open for spur-of-the-moment opportunities as I travel.

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5436 posts

Kathleen that is a really beautiful memory!! So sweet.

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946 posts

There were so many magical moments during our first visit to Italy. Just the fact my SIL and I were there was a magical moment when we stepped off the plane in Rome. But the best moments were walking through Mongrassano Calabria, looking at the old derelict houses and wondering which one SIL's and hubby's grandparents lived in before they came to the US in 1910(ish). We'll never know, but can only imagine...

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1655 posts

Great memory Kathleen! We need to strive to experience the world with a childlike wonder.

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976 posts

The unplanned moments, getting lost and realizing you would have missed out on "X" if you had not gotten lost. Thinking the rain is going to ruin plans, only to do it anyway and have the best time.
There are so many wonderful memories and some bad ones, but they all make great stories.

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3 posts

Adore the Amalfi coast and return year after year and NEVER tire of it...Capri/AnaCapri May be the most BEAUTIFUL place in the world...😊👌

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1653 posts

About ten years ago, in a family trip to Sicily in April, we had the pleasure to discover snowfields on Mount Etna that were peppered with ash and pebbles from a small eruption that had taken place a day or two prior. An eerie landscape, without a soul in sight...

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616 posts

My first magical moment in Italy was when I was invited for the Summer holidays to the house of a friend of mine I was with at a boarding school in England. She was from Florence, in fact from a small village near Bagno a Ripoli on a hill. The view was marvelous from the terrace, nice weather, food, water taken from the nearby spring in a copper jag, always fresh, melons from the garden, rides on the vespas to Florence Piazza Michelangelo, two hamacs on the terrace, sometimes there was the cat sleeping in the dog’s in one of them.
I just felt it was heaven.

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5 posts

A magical moment was sitting on our tiny balcony early morning overlooking an alley in the historic district of Naples, espresso in hand, listening to the nuns singing in the convent across the street. I had to pinch myself to make sure the moment was real.

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267 posts

Sunset on the Grand Canal on my first visit to Venice. My mom and I arrived late in the afternoon and checked into to our hotel up by ferroviaria, and then boarded to vaporetto to go to Musica a Palazzo just as the sun was setting. We were going against traffic, and so it wasn't crowded. I stood at the front of boat and watched the magnificence of the Grand Canal unfold. That was my introduction to Venice. It was pure magic. One of the pictures is here: https://mariematthews.smugmug.com/Venice/i-XxCM4vZ/A

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6 posts

I would have to say back in 2007, I took my then boyfriend (now husband) to Italy for the first time. Venice was our first stop. Of course traveling on the water towards Venice was incredible for him. Our first order of business was to have dinner after a really long travel day. We ate at a restaurant called Raphael which sat on a canal and we watched gondolas go by with gondoliers singing as their voices echoed. He was overwhelmed which ended up being nothing compared to when I walked him to Piazza San Marco through the Napoleonic entrance. It's like entering a grand living room. This is when I just watched his jaw drop and he was feeling what a magical place we were in as we watched the "dueling" orchestras play. It was surreal for him and wonderful for me to introduce someone to Italy for the first time and just see him "get it". To this day, he still refers to that time as one of the best in his life and we've been to a great many more places since then. Another one was spending Christmas 2016 in Rome and we decided to walk to the Vatican to hear Pope Francis give the Christmas Blessing. We had an amazing view standing right behind the last row of chairs and although I could only understand some of what he was saying, it was beautiful to be there in that setting with people from all over the world and locals of course. Listening to the beautiful chimes of the bells after it was over was something we won't forget.

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109 posts

Our magical moment was in Venice on a Sunday in May a couple of years ago. We were having breakfast on the outdoor terrace at Hotel Bauer on the Grand Canal and it happened to be the morning of the annual Vogalonga Venice Regatta on Pentecost. It was a magnificent sight to see hundreds of rowing boats and rowing teams from Italy and other countries silently gliding along in a colorful 30 km race from St. Mark's Basin to Burano and back. The Grand Canal was closed to motorized boats. A hymn was sung and the guns went off and the beautiful race began. It was wonderful to see the traditional Venetian rowing teams returning as well. We will never forget this awesome moment.

Posted by
1039 posts

Marie,
The pictures in the link you posted on Venice were amazing. If you published them in a book, I would buy it in a heart beat. Just beautiful!

Posted by
69 posts

Everyone- THANK YOU!
I’ve been on a camping trip with friends and just got home. We had no internet connections, so I wasn’t able to see all of these wonderful responses until NOW!
Thank you, I’m so excited to read these tomorrow when I am not half asleep. The Rick Steve’s community is the BEST! I wish you all happiness and I hope that you love reading these collective memories as much as I do! How fun and such happy memories. Much love to you ALL!!
Keep posting! Xoxo
Buono Notte!
Lisa

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834 posts

Paddling in a kayak along a canal in Venice that passes under the sacristy of the church of San Stefano.

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134 posts

Was, and still is, walking out of Venezia Santa Lucia -- what appears to be just a regular, normal, run-of-the-mill train station-- and seeing the Grand Canal and all that's associated with it.

I'm planning my next trip to Italy now and want to treat my daughter to something new (she'll be the only repeat visitor in the group besides me) and I'm really in a quandary about making a grand entry from the airport via water taxi.

That would mean missing out on my "Groundhog Day" magical moment -- walking out of ferrovia and seeing the Grand Canal.

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69 posts

WOW! I love your stories! I love your fabulous memories! We are all SO completely lucky to experience these things!

Keep the stories coming... this is so much fun. There are so many great experiences posted here- that I want to personally reply to- so I’ll just thank all of you!

Best wishes and once again -much love to you all! Happy travels my distant friends!

Lisa

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53 posts

Actually, I'm not totally sure it was in Italy, but I think so. We were driving down from Austria on the new, fabulously engineered Brenner Pass highway. The scenery was extremely rugged, dramatic, & mountainous. We stopped at a roadside rest stop & I strode around the parking lot to stretch my legs. At the edge of the paved lot, a few yards into the woods, I saw some granite posts connected by a rusty chain. I walked into the woods to see, & came across about 15-20 feet of old blue stone paving poking out of the forest floor. It was about 10 ft. wide, with rounded grooves, maybe 2-3 inches deep about 5 feet apart, running up the center. A plaque on the post said in Italian, German, & English that this was a section of the old Roman road crossing the Alps from Italy to Innsbruck. I was looking at the "Via Augusta", finished sometime in the 2nd century. Chills ran up my spine. The trip on the highway from Innsbruck to Venice took me about 2.5 hours. How did men engineer this road over the kind of mountain terrain I had just driven over, with nothing but man & animal power? How did they build it so that (at least this piece) was still useful 2000 years later? How many carts had made this slow trip to wear those grooves in the hard stone?

My hometown is one of the oldest in the US. (New Haven, 1638) The few pre 1700 buildings that survive are regarded as historic relics. The men who built this road through the dark Germanic forests had died a full 1400 years before the first European strode onto my towns central green! I had an almost visceral lurch in my appreciation of the time scale of history & human progress.

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My magical moment was waking up in the morning in the villa I rented for my honeymoon in Positano to the smell of baking croissants made fresh every morning by Franco. Sitting up on my terrace, overlooking the most beautiful town in the world with my wife is a moment I’ll never forget.

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303 posts

In May of 2015 my husband and I were touring the Amalfi Coast. I had heard about the stunning views from Ravello, so we ferried early one morning from Salerno (where we were staying) to Amalfi and caught the bus up to Ravello. It was too early for crowds, and it was a clear, sunny, picture perfect day. The views were stunning indeed! The Mediterranean glistened in the sun. We toured Villa Rufulo and had lunch outside at a cafe near the center of the village. Over our glasses of wine we decided that it just didn't get any better than this. It was quiet, beautiful and we were soaking up Italy at its best.

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1084 posts

It wasn't so much magical as slightly comical, but I've never forgotten it.
I was in Lucca a few years ago, and was sort of hanging about waiting for a group I was meeting up with.
It was hot, and I noticed a little church, so I thought I'd go inside to cool off for a few minutes.
(I never pass up an open church in Italy, as you just don't know what wonders you'll find.)
I flung open the heavy door, and was greeted by the sight of 30 gently snoring nuns.
Every single one was fast asleep, and they were all purring away like mad.
I backed up and went back outside to wait.
I open church doors very gently now...…..

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We were in the duomo in Florence, right beside was a group of University students from someplace in the U.S. They just started singing, turns out they were a choral group on tour, gave me shivers and moves me to tears!

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3 posts

Just one? Forget it not possible- Venice, Rome, Florence, Bologna, Vernazza, Sienna, and all the others I'm forgetting are all special in their own way! Go Forth And Travel!!!!

L2T!

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668 posts

We had rented a motorcycle to drive the 222 from Florence to Siena. On the hills, just out side Florence, and before we got back down to the valley, is when my partner decided that I was worthy of marring her. We both agree, that was the moment. She had always wanted to go to Italy. Married 14 years now and have seen 7 other countries since. ... :) The 222 sort of started it all. :)

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113 posts

Torcello near Venice. We accidentally got off at the wrong ferry stop on the way to Burano and discovered a beautiful island which was where the Romans first settled and where Hemingway once lived and wrote. Enjoyed a nice lunch at an uncrowned restaurant, enjoyed a leisurely stroll and inspection of an ancient church. After this peaceful interlude, Burano was a frantic mess full of tourists and the line so long for the ferries back to Venice that we waited over an hour.

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766 posts

First time I walked out from the Venice Santa Lucia train station and saw the Grand Canal. Every year since, and there have been 15 of them, I still gasp at the beautiful power of that experience. I carry it with me all year.

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27 posts

Since the category is "Magical" I'm going with our trip last September that included a couple of nights in Parma to take a tour of Parmesan and Balsamic "factories" and a Prosciutto place. While we were there we went to the local shopping mall to see what the Italian equivalent of a mall was and to look for some Italian made toys for baby gifts.

As we were leaving the the mall we purchased some bus tickets at the local tabaccaio and headed outside. However once outside there was no bus stop in site.

As we were standing there looking a local lady walked by and we tried a simple "Scuse?" She barely spoke enough English to figure out what we needed to know. Then she let us know the bus stop was about 1/4 mile away or so. (My wife had taken online Italian courses before the trip and had some basic understanding.)

She then said she could give us a ride to the bus stop and headed for a car waiting for her. Turned out it was her husband and she proceeded to tell him they were giving us a ride. As we started they asked where we were staying and we said "Parma centrale". (Center of Parma). She then proceeded to tell her husband they were driving us into town! It took about 15 minutes and we proceeded to put together enough of a conversation to tell them we were from Seattle and for them to confirm the restaurant we had reservations at that night was excellent. (Osteria dei Servi for anyone wondering.)

We didn't see any amazing historical sites and there was no food involved but this interaction with a couple from Parma that had no reason to help us was my favorite magical moment in Italy.

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69 posts

I love it! This post has been renewed with more entries... your posts have given me goosebumps, chills, laughing out loud and peaceful reflection. Thanks for sharing and happy travels!

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18 posts

There have been several such moments in Italy (and France/Spain/Portugal/America) but this one comes to mind. Our room in Venice was located on the Grand Canal, next to the Rialto Bridge and directly across from the Rialto Market. Our room had a wonderful terrace fronting the water. Because of the location and wanting to see the last of the full moon before dawn. I got up at 5 AM and sat on the terrace to watch. As it got lighter, there were small boats arriving at the market to deliver fish and produce. As they unloaded their cargo, the men were singing opera. Not music from a radio, not karaoke, but straight a-cappella OPERA. It was phenomenal. I had goosebumps. Just me and a dozen vendors and workers listening to these guys singing. My wife was sleeping, and I didn’t wake her up because I was afraid these men would stop singing as I woke her. I choose to be selfish and haven’t regretted it.

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127 posts

Cantania this past summer. During our first trip to Italy my wife and I were returning from the fish market along empty streets in the early morning. An elderly gentleman on his way to the fish market stopped and greeted us, and asked in simple Italian how we liked Catania. I was able to reply in (even simpler) Italian that we liked Catania very much. Happy to see our pleasure, he smiled broadly with pride, shook the hands of each of us, wished us well, and continued on his way to the market.

After Sicily we continued north, ending in Milan, over three weeks. The journey was filled with breathtaking natural scenes, beautiful churches, awesome Roman and Greek ruins, inspiring artwork, and wonderful food – but what stands out to me are this (and one other) simple, unexpected human encounter.

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208 posts

April 2005. My beloved and I were spending a week in Lucca. Pope John Paul II had recently died - the Papal conclave had been in place.

It had rained almost ceaselessly since we'ed been there - everything we owned was damp, the clouds were low and oppressive. We were no longer having fun.
It was early evening, we were heading from our apartment just outside the town for a pre-dinner drink. We were walking along the top of the city walls when, almost simultaneously, two things happened: The clouds split, and a sunbeam hit the town. Within seconds, the bells of the nearby church began to ring, closely followed by the bells in every other church. The Conclave had come to an agreement, and Benedict was the new pope.

We remained on the walls until the bells stopped - it was just a beautiful moment.

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This is a' number one' story from my 93 year old aunt. Part of her honeymoon in the 1940s was a stay at The Bellagio in northern Italy. She and her husband returned to the area for their 50th wedding anniversary and decided to try and stay at The Bellagio once more even though it was sold out. They were told "No No No...so sorry.." until she showed them the diary she kept of the original trip with the description of their room,etc.! The staff was so moved they ended up in the same room and had a wonderful time.