Saturday, September 08, 2012

A dream and a disaster in 2001...



On September 4th, 2001, my good friend Douglas and I took off for a months stay in Italy. This had been my dream for many years and it was finally coming true. In order to make it financially feasible we’d decided to travel by public transportation and to stay in guest monasteries … the one pictured here is where we stayed in Florence.

Our first three days were spent in Rome and the next two in Orvieto. It was almost too much to absorb and we gave a sigh of relief, on the 6th day, which was September 10th, when we arrived in the small town of Bavagna. This is a charming place with two small piazzas tucked in between ancient buildings and churches.



We chose Bavagna because it was close to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. We were anxious to see that but didn’t want to lodge in that more touristy town. A rickety old bus took us there on the morning of Sept. 11th, and returned us to Bavagna at approximately 4:30 that afternoon.

The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza excitedly called out to us …“Americani,” and pointed to the little bar and coffee shop insisting that we go there. The shop boasted the only TV in the square and it was just recording the horrific events of 9-11. We actually saw the live pictures of the second tower being attacked.

I will never forget that day and the feeling of being so far from home and so totally useless. By the time we got to a phone all the lines were clogged and it was impossible to reach anyone in the U.S. One of the nuns where we were staying took us under her wing and, although we could barely understand what she was saying, it made no difference. Her love and compassion were just what we needed.

We toyed with the idea of going back home but finally decided to trudge on and that’s what we did. In every town, small or large, the Italians grieved with us and let us know how much they cared. Their out-flowing of love was astounding.

I lost my friend Douglas to cancer in 2005 but the memory of him and of our amazing trip will forever be highlights in my life.



7 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

At first I thought I might be reading a re-post since I remember you posting about this trip, but this was new ... but timeless.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Jacobs said...

What a special memory, of strangers grieving with you.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous schmidleysscribblins,wordpress.com said...

HOw horrible to be away from home and see that awful day on TV. I was at work here in DC and the Federal Government told us all to go home, which was not possible for me as I live 1/2 block from the Pentagon. A bad day from far away and here at home too. Dianne

7:22 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

How terrible to hear that sort of news while abroad. I understand how that could cast a pall over your trip, but receiving compassion from strangers has much to recommend it too.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Never underestimate the kindness of strangers, even those in a foreign country, Ginnie. Sorry to read the last part about your friend's passing.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I think that each of us has an association of where we were that day. I am glad that you were in a place where there was much caring and that the people of Italy were there to comfort you. I wonder now what happened to the unity we had on that day and the weeks that followed. Now we are again the "ugly Americans" in foreign countries and our nation is divided.

5:31 AM  
Blogger joared said...

Oh dear! I recall how I felt here on the west coast with family on the east coast in nyc near WTC and other member on phone with me an hour away from Pentagon when it was hit. I can only imagine how you must have felt much further away than I was. Clearly you did what was probably best under the circumstances. Yes, the world did sympathize with we Americans then. Too bad we lost that compassion. Sorry about your friend those years later.

4:42 AM  

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