Non-Fiction: An American Chick’s Guide to Italy.

The Disneyland Connection…

It was one of those oppressive, hot, arid Southern California August days. Hubby and I were arguing about dinner plans and I thought him insane for thinking about leaving our air-conditioned house to enter the crowded portal of Disneyland. He won.

We soon plowed our way down Main Street and settled down for a cold drink and some people watching.

Kids screamed from exhaustion, parents were on the brink of nervous breakdowns, while others stripped down to the degree of nakedness Disney would allow just to keep cool.

While sipping on ice water, I heard a conversation between two young girls at the next table. I had six Italian lessons under my belt and recognized the language immediately.

I braved a “Siete Italiane?” (Are you Italian?) They responded with a full-fledged conversation in their language. I lifted my hand and asked…”Dooooo youuuu speeek English?”

“Si, I speaka poco Englese. My name eese Monica.”

Her friend’s large blue eyes sparkled with mischief. “I am Francesca. No Englese.”

My husband thought them adorable, and we proceeded through a series of facial expressions and sign language to exchange a few words. By the end of the evening we had also exchanged names and addresses.

Three months later, they wrote to us and informed us of their upcoming semester at a language school in San Diego. And the rest, as they say, is history. That was fifteen years ago. And it was the beginning of a friendship that extended to their family and friends.

What I love about Italy, above the beauty, art, history, and energy of this country, is the intimacy and friendships that are so easily forged. My hope is, after reading my book, you will look at Italy in a different light. That being a tourist will not override the joys of just being there. I want you to linger over a coffee and feel the rhythm of the village or city you are visiting.

Rome is my favorite city. Is it any wonder the writers and poets of old yearned to spend their time in the Italian sun? Of Rome, Byron said. “O Rome! My country! City of the soul!” Henry James wrote in one of his letters that, “At last—for the first time—I live! It beats everything; it leave the Rome of your fancy—your education—nowhere. It makes Venice—Florence—Oxford—London—seem like little cities of pasteboard.”

My desire is that all who travel to Italy will fall in love with this country as I have. That you will enjoy the funny stories, learn from the mistakes I have made, and use the highly recommended restaurants, hotels, and villas where I return again and again.

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