Thinking back to Italy…

Cinque Terre

Today I was thinking back to my trip to Italy with Maya from back in April 2012. I had dreamed of that trip for over a year. It was going to be me, my mom, and Maya going — three generations of McBryde women. But then just a few days before we were to leave, my mom found out that she was going to have heart bypass surgery. It was totally unexpected. Then I had to decide whether to cancel the trip or not. After going back and forth, my sweet mom encouraged us to go without her. And we did. It was a glorious holiday. Maya and I had never had two weeks off just enjoying each other like this. She was a trooper — best three-year-old world traveler ever. Okay, that’s not true, but we did have a blast. And thank the Lord that my mom is doing well now. We’re going to take that trip to Italy with her sometime soon, I hope.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnjoying our daily gelato. Levanto, Italy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABike riding along the coast. Levanto, Italy

Today, my Timehop app reminded me of this trip. My Instagram has more pics. I’m sure I’ll post Italy photos for the next several days as I reminiscence about that glorious vacation.


Now I’m in the midst of planning a trip to Nicaragua with Madison and Maya for June. Stay tuned — it’s going to be another one for the record books.

Italian Holiday: itinerary and videos

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn April 2012, my daughter (who was three at the time) and I flew to Italy for a much-needed holiday. I planned the itinerary myself — finding all my lodging from recommendations on Trip Advisor, plus one personal connection. Here is the run down of the B&Bs where we stayed and our basic itinerary:

Arrived late, so no touristy stuff on Day one except a lovely dinner near our B&B.

Night 1: Venice
Casa Rezzonico
This place was nice and clean. The staff were friendly. The breakfast was okay. However, it was not much for the money, but I’m sure that’s the norm for Venice. Next time, I plan on staying outside of the city at Agriturismo Ca Danieli.

Day 2: Toured Venice (mostly by water bus), then took the train to Levanto. M threw up on the train all over me and a few passengers. Unfortunately, “Sorry my kid barfed on you.” was not in my Rick Steves guidebook. But that’s another story. Arrived in Levanto just as the sun set. Walked to the nearby B&B.

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Nights 2-5: Levanto
A Durmi
Love, LOVE, love this place. So glad I decided to stay here instead on in one of the Cinque Terre towns. Levanto has a great feel to it — relaxed, not too touristy, beautiful beach, good food, and friendly people. I want to retire in Levanto.

Then on Day 6 we took the train to Ghivizzano to visit our friends Rusty and Pepper who are from North Little Rock. They moved to Italy in 2011 to open their B&B, Casa La Pace. Not only is their place beautifully restored, Rusty and Pepper are super fun hosts. Pepper gave us guided tours like he’s lived in Italy for years — the amount of local information he shared was amazing. One day we toured Ghivizanno, then Castelnuovo di Garfagnana the next.

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Nights 6-7: Ghivizzano
2012-04-23 15.19.47Casa La Pace

The last morning with Rusty and Pepper was spent in Lucca, the walled city. From there we said goodbye then took a train back across Italy to the air base to catch our military flight home.


God-Sized Dreams

This morning at Fellowship North, one of our pastors Taido Chino shared about the big dream that God placed in his heart more than 10 years ago — pursuing a PhD in Theology. He announced that after overcoming a series of obstacles and getting several confirmations from various people, he and his family will be moving to Scotland in a few months to attend one of the top theology schools on the planet. He challenged us all with: How Big A Dream Can You Dream?

I’ve had the privilege to visit Italy three times. The first time in 1989 when I spent a semester of my junior year of college at the University of Amsterdam. I took the train down to Florence, Italy, to spend a few days with a friend of my father’s during my spring break.

The second time was a magical week in 1999 for my cousin Amy’s beautiful wedding in Civita di Bagnoregio in the Umbria region. During that week, I also traveled to Rome, Pisa and Florence. That week still stands as one of the best of my life. Bagnoregio

Then the last trip I made to Italy was in April 2012 (see previous blog post) with my sweet daughter M. During those ten days, we spent time in Venice, Levanto, the Cinque Terre, Lucca, Ghivizzano, and others. Again, another amazing vacation.

Something extraordinary happens to me in Italy. First the days seem to last for 48 hours — seriously time moves at half-time. I am so at ease there. I enjoy fumbling my way through the language and getting lost along the narrow roadways. My goal in each little town I visit is to find out where the locals go for pizza. Forget the tourist trap restaurants — give me the 5 Euro pizza that tastes like heaven. The people of Italy are friendly and treasure family. They enjoy an after-dinner stroll through town — seriously everyone gets out for a walk at night. It’s divine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo needless to say, my God-sized dream is to one day live in Italy. I had a plan in place to retire from the Public Health Service about the same time M graduates high school, sell everything and move over there. But then that plan blew up when I decided to separate from the service and move back to Arkansas to be with my mom following her heart surgery. But I know God has a better plan. I married Anthony, and we have a lovely life together. But that desire for Italy is still there. I shared it with Anthony this morning at church, and (poor guy) I’ve been talking about it all day today.

I’m going to drop it for now — mostly cause I know that God won’t forget and that he has an awesome plan for Anthony and me together. Who knows — it may just include living among Italians, eating pizza, and taking evening strolls for a gelato.