Tuesday, January 30, 2007

9-11-2001.………Bavagna, Italy

In September of 2001 my friend Douglas and I were headed for a month’s stay in Italy. He was an architect so it was a great treat for me to be able to tap into his expertise. He was also not at all interested in expensive hotels & over-priced restaurants...so we were well matched. I had read an informative book entitled “Lodging In Italy’s Monasteries” and realized we could afford a month’s stay, instead of our proposed two weeks, by utilizing their services & traveling by public transportation.

This sounded great to Douglas and he was happy to have me do all the arranging…which I thoroughly enjoyed. I made reservations at seven Monasteries (located in Rome, Orvieto, Bavagna, Gubbio, Cortona, Florence and Venice).

Three days in Rome and two in Orvieto were filled with treasures and views that I had only imagined. The sixth day, which was Sept. 10th, found us in the small town of Bavagna. This is a charming town with 2 small piazzas tucked in between ancient buildings & churches.

We went to Assisi the next day and it was approximately 4:30 in the afternoon when we returned to Bavagna. The first inkling that something was wrong was when the few townspeople who were in the Piazza called to us and pointed to the little bar/coffee shop/ice cream parlor, 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.

I can hardly put into words how this affected me. I felt totally shocked and helpless. A nice couple from Canada took us to their hotel and we tried to make calls to our family members in the U.S., but it would be 4 days before we could get through. When we left them and returned to the piazza a nun was waiting for us. She was probably from the monastery where we were staying although I didn’t recognize her. She motioned us to follow her and led the way to an ancient church in the center of the town. She unlocked the side door and beckoned us to enter.

The interior of the church was cool and musty and we were completely alone. It didn’t seem to matter that neither Douglas nor I practiced any type of formal religion. We sat quietly absorbing the atmosphere, each lost in our own thoughts, and in about an hour the little nun came back. We tried to show our appreciation although we knew very little Italian and it was hard to speak without crying. She kept nodding her head to show that she understood and then gave Douglas a pat on the back and me a warm hug.

That day comes back to haunt me, as I know it does for so many people. It always makes me remember the compassion and love that were shown to us...not only by the townspeople of Bavagna, but from all the Italians that we encountered during our month’s stay in their wonderful country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your words brought forth all the emotion of that time in our country.
It was a horrific time around the world....but I think your experience only proves to me once again...kindness and love far outweigh the evil.
Sounds like that was a wonderful trip, but it's sad it had to be marred by such a tradgedy.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing experience--to be away from home, to see horrific news about home, and to be loved and supported by the country you are visiting.
I wish as Americans we were more understanding and accepting of others.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine finding out about 9/11 in another country. It must have been even more horrible and confusing. But nowhere I know of would you be cared for the way you are in Italy. I am pleased to know that you have good memories of the trip, despite what awaited you back here.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember what I was doing that horrible day. Even before the first tower fell, an overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair had enveloped me. My son was with me at the time, I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't been.

I can't imagine what it must have felt like to be so far from home and so unable to get in touch with the people you loved most in the world. I am thankful that the people of Bavagna understood your pain and offered you comfort.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

I simply have always wanted to go to Italy and I think I shall make it there some day in the future too. I love their food, language and their customs, gorgeous generous people they are :)

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ginnie,

I popped in to see you because I just found that funny note on my blog. Thanks.

Your story is so well told. I like knowing that there are other people who like minimalist travel arrangements. Architecture is a great lens through which to view a country.

The kind reactions of the Italians in your town reminded me of a moment in France. Pictures of the huge earthquake in....SF or LA? filled the screens. My neighbors came over and invited me in to watch.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great idea for travel -- about the monasteries, I mean.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

Because of the time difference, the Twin Towers had both fallen by the time I got up that morning. I logged on and was reading and responding to e-mail from my on-line support group (for women non-dieters) when the posts concerning the horror began to flood in. All around the world, women were telling us how sorry they were, expressing concern and love.

By the time I went to work that morning, I knew that there were women around the world who cared what happened to us. It was amazingly comforting. I remember one post from a woman in England who mentioned that if the US security folks needed to read all the e-mail in the world right then, it was ok with her and a woman in Texas replied, "So, they learn that fat women suggest chocolate to each other for comfort in stressful situations. I'll bet they already suspected that."

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always been fascinated at how horrific events like this can highlight both the best and the worst in humanity.

As long as we choose to focus on the good, there's hope for the future of the planet.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard about 9/11 just as we remember where we were and what we were doing when President Kennedy was assassinated.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. I am so glad the people were so nice to you.Wow.

4:13 AM  

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