Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Memories of Italy, September 11, 2001


On September first 2001 my dream of a lifetime began. My friend Douglas and I were on a plane leaving Newark and heading to Italy. He was a retired architect and a world traveler so it was a great treat for me to be able to tap into his expertise. I had planned the trip with the aid of an informative book entitled “Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries” and Douglas was happy to go along with that. (The picture above is where we lodged in Florence.)

On September 11th we'd spent the day in Assisi and returned late in the afternoon to our monastery in the small town of Bavagna. The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza called to us and pointed to their 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 us. We 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 from the monastery where we were staying and she led the way to an ancient church in the center of the town where 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.

Now it is 19 years later and that day still haunts me, as I know it does for so many others. It also reminds me of 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. It is a memory that I will cherish forever.


Blogger Marie Smith said...

There are good people around us. We may not recognize them until there is an emergency but they are there. I am glad some of them helped you when you needed it Ginnie.

9:50 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Well, anonymous (who is too chicken to leave his/her name), certainly Ginnie is not responsible for "destroying our own children's future". My children are millennials and they are far from Communist or even Socialist.

A nice memory, Ginnie, and I am glad that Italy elcomed you so warmly (as they did us, in better times.)

9:52 AM  
Blogger kenju said...


9:53 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

As traumatic as that day was for all of us, I can't imagine it happening while in a foreign country. You were blessed to have been found by so many caring souls. What a memory.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Joared said...

A difficult experience to have so far away from home but glad you encountered such caring people.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It is one of those days when we will always remember where we were. Sue and I were in a dental office when we heard.

4:06 AM  

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