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.