It was wonderful and exciting for my first visit to Italy on a tour with my friend Marie. Our visit started in Milan, Italy. It was so exciting to be on this great vacation to Italy. We dropped off our suitcases in the room and went off to explore this beautiful city. We had coffee and just walked around the city. I think we also jumped on a bus to see more of Milan. From Milan, we went to Florence for a few days. Then it was off to Venice.
This was 18 years ago and I was so excited to travel to Italy. Some things are vague but the memories of that day 9/11 are something I will not forget. We were at I think a Religious monastery that day. It was a beautiful summer day, I think it was about 3 pm, ( not sure) we were all laughing and enjoying the day when someone from the group screamed out that New York was under attack and the towers were destroyed. As I write this I have the same feeling I had that day and tears running down my face. You just cannot register in your brain on this. It just did not seem real. We asked the individual and he said the same thing bombing of the towers in New York. We then heard the tour guide asking all of us to go to the buses immediately. I felt like everything was in slow motion. Many of us on the tour were crying and just not sure about anything. Here we are on foreign land (Italy) and our country was being attacked. I cannot believe how the tears are flowing as I write this blog.
The worst part is that 3/4 of the people on the tour were from New York. The nightmare begins for the people from New York on this tour from New York. We all get on the bus and it is so quiet for a while. The tour guide started talking that we were safe and would give us more information in a few hours. The officials talked with us about staying together and again telling us all we were safe.
They brought us back to the hotel and brought us into a room. To this day I cannot remember what was being said in the beginning. Your mind is racing and trying to make sense of what is happening. We all get together and many were trying to call back to the states. No calls were going through. The individuals from New York were frantic wondering are their families ok back in New York. Then the television went on and here comes the news on CNN about the bombing and showing so much destruction in New York. It did not seem real I am watching CNN showing the massive destruction and the many individuals that we either killed in the attack or wounded.
I am not sure but I think the next day they took us to the center of Venice, I remember so many people crying and saying how sorry they were for the bombing in New York. There were many Americans on different tours at the same time as our tour. I cannot tell you how kind and caring the Italy people were to us. They would place their hands on your shoulder and express their feelings about America. They placed many small American Flags around. So many tears for America. They took our tour on the gondolas and started signing to us, I think it was Good Bless America, but I cannot be sure. Here we are on Gondolas on a beautiful day and I am thinking about the destruction in New York. It really is complex to understand.
When we went into restaurants, the love and caring from so many people was unbelievable.
I am not sure if it was the day of the bombing or the next day, many from our tour went to a small church to pray for our country and the people that were lost or injured in that meanless bombing. The church was packed and felt safe on what had been happening for the past day.
I do remember some instructions from our tour company, not to bring awareness that we were Americans. Asked the men not to wear baseball caps. and to be aware of our surroundings. We had a few more days in Italy and then it began would they be taking some plans that would land in Canada and then have buses bring us into the US. We would be in Italy for another 4 or 5 days or so. So the Tour Company would keep us up to date on how we would be returning to the US.
We finally were all able to call back home to hear our families were ok and to assure them that we were safe. Our tour friends from New York also finally got through to talk with their families. It was so great to hear that their families were all ok. Their families told them stories about what was happening in New York. Sometimes it was hard on having a fun time in Italy and knowing back home there was sadness and grief for the many families in New York.
But every night we all would turn in to watch CNN for what was happening in New York. I have returned to Italy twice since the 9/11 bombing in New York and what I do every time I come in from an evening out, I turn on CNN and watch what is happening in America. I will tell you that what I saw on CNN was Americans being resilient, courageous, stepping up to help and more.
When we were ready to go home, we wished our tour friends a safe trip. A lot of hugs were given. Planes were now flying into or leaving America with no problems.
For some reason, I had to just write about where I was on 9/11 18 years ago. If you read this blog that will be great and if you don’t that is also ok.
It felt good to speak about this trip that changed us all in one day.
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