Meeting Sant’Anna





Spanning three centuries, Sant’Anna has stood as a source of learning, light, and leadership for the Sorrento community in the Campagna region of southern Italy. Located high above the Bay of Naples, jetting out on a cliff facing Mt. Vesuvius, Sorrento, sits 30 miles south of Naples. Now, through a new partnership with Jacksonville University, Sant’Anna is poised to become a leader in high quality global educational experiences.

Capo di Sorrento
JU on the cliffs of Sorrento, Italy


The legacy of Sant’Anna is shrouded in generosity, compassion, and commitment to the educational needs of a community. The expansive property originated in the 1800s as a private residence. At the owner’s request upon his death, the estate was bequeathed to the Roman Catholic Church. In response for such generosity, the Church sent the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea to care for the educational needs of the Sorrento community.

For more than 150 years, the Sisters of Charity served the diverse educational needs of the Sorrento community; establishing an orphanage, teaching nursery school through high school, and educating teachers. The school closed its doors in 1994. A few years later, with permission from the Vatican, Cristiana Pannico, founder and owner of today’s Sant’Anna Institute moved into the historical building, bringing new life, leadership, and learning yet again into the property. This time, with Pannico’s vision, expanding the legacy of learning to include international students.

Sant'Anna in the Golden Hour
Towering high above Marina Grand, Sant’Anna shines brightly.

Today, towering over a majestic cliff, high above Sorrento’s Marina Grande, the impressive five-story building includes classrooms, offices, and two floors of newly renovated student residences. The rooms overlooking the sapphire blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and pastel colored fishing village of Marina Grande are again bustling with activity.

Marina Grande, Sorrento
The watercolored fishing village of Marina Grande.

The stone-walled walkway leading through the gates of Sant’Anna delights the senses meandering through brightly colored gardens, rose-scented arch ways, and tidy rows of Sorrento’s native aromatic lemon trees. The organic garden is lovingly tended as it has been for centuries, providing fresh fruit, seasonal vegetables, and flowers to the Sant’Anna community.

Lemons of Sorrento
Lemons and wisteria line the pathway to Sant’Anna.


As the Executive Director of Global Teaching and Learning, and Professor of Communication, I’ve lead study abroad programs at JU for more than a decade and a half. I am a passionate advocate for quality study abroad programs. Time and again, I witness the transformation that takes place when a college student steps out of the familar and into the unknown.  I believe education remains the one great hope for vibrant democracies throughout the world. For me, study abroad is an integral part of education, necessary to prepare students for life in an increasingly global community.

AM Villa Ruffolo
Villa Rufolo in nearby Ravello.

When done right, study abroad has the power to promote peace, replacing fear of the unknown with understanding, illuminating shared values, and cultivating respect for differences. Study abroad affords students the opportunity to experience engaged learning while increasing knowledge through understanding.

Annmarie and the Amalfi Coast
Enjoying the view along the Amalfi Coast.

My students have used their time abroad to produce award winning projects honored by the Florida Chapter of the Associated Press and the National Council for Undergraduate Research. During the Summer of 2017, at the end of a family vacation in Venice, I made a last-minute decision to stay behind, and travel alone for the nearly 500 miles south to Sorrento.

After a few minutes on the property, and an initial meeting with owner, Cristina Pannico, I recognized the opportunities for collaboration between JU and Sant’Anna could be far greater than simply my summer program. I knew I found something extraordinary and set to work to share it with the JU community.

Actual dorm room in Sorrento.
This view was waiting for me upon my arrival at Sant’Anna.

In the fall of 2017, Pannico visited JU, touring the campus and meeting with President Tim Cost. In March of 2018, I travelled to Sorrento, and spent my sabbatical at Sant’Anna studying Italian and facilitating the partnership. Later that month, Dr. Christine Sapienza arrived with the documents making the collaboration between Jacksonville University and Sant’Anna official.

The gardens of Sant'Anna
Dr. Christine Sapienza, Provost and SVP of Academic Affairs at Jacksonville University with Cristiana Panicco, Owner and Founder of the Sant’Anna Institute.

As the university of record, JU oversees the instruction and coursework provided at Sant’Anna, ensures JU academic standards are maintained, and awards university credits and transcripts to all students throughout the world earning academic credit through Sant’Anna classes.


In May of 2018, less than one year after the initial meeting between Pannico and myself, the first group of JU Dolphins arrived in Sorrento. The three-week May-mester included two courses. I taught Communications, Culture, and the Amalfi Coast, and Professor Ginger Sheridan taught Photography: The study of Displacement and Discovery.

My students found time to join me in a servic project for the community.
Enjoying the golden light in Sorrento with my students Sylvia Dean, Class of 2019 and Sara Ann Wicks, Class of 2018

A second group of students followed in June, completing course work, including Sant’Anna signature courses: History of the Mafia, Archaeology and the Cities of Fire, and Italian Language. In addition, the summer program featured a new JU International Internship in Sorrento, with students from a variety of majors interning in the community while earning discipline specific academic credits.

Lecture in Naples
History of the Mafia students travel to Naples with Dr. Aterrano and Dr. Novellino.

Over the course of the next academic year, JU will continue to pilot new programs. These additions include graduate and undergraduate courses in Health Sciences, International Internships, two Summer Sessions, the Freshman Welcome Program, and full semester programs in the Spring and Fall.

This extraordinary partnership provides undergraduates, graduate students, and the greater JU community with well-organized and innovative engaged learning opportunities. Collectively, this JU signature program pairs critical thinking and vibrant learning experiences while preparing students for success in an increasing global world. From the bluff high above the St. Johns River to the cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula, JU’s shared commitment to educational excellence, through service, learning, and leadership has found a new home in Sant’Anna and Sorrento, Italy.

Sunset in Sorrento and Marina Grande.

The study abroad programs are open to JU students and full time college students in good standing enrolled at other colleges and universities. For more information about how you can study abroad in Sorrento, click the link here.

I look forward to seeing you in Sorrento!

Summer in Sorrento




Say hello to Sorrento!

Over the course of the last year, including during my sabbatical, I spent much of my time working on a project designed to create innovative, engaging, and educational study abroad opportunities. This summer, the program came to life as I welcomed several groups of students to the Jacksonville University and Sant’Anna partnership.

Now you can travel with me and my students through the majestic cliffs of Sorrento, the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, and set sail for captivating Capri. With signature coursework including International internships these global experiences bring education to life while offering a whole new world of understanding.


10 Fun Facts about Amalfi



EDITION 02   JUNE 2018
  1. The town of Amalfi lends its name to the impossibly steep and beautifully blue 30 mile area known the world over as the Amalfi Coast.

    The city that gave its name to Italy’s most famous coast.
  2. Amalfi was the original Italian Naval superpower. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Maritime Republic of Amalfi was rich and powerful, controlling the important sea-faring trade routes of the Mediterranean and North Africa. While the rest of the Italian peninsula was still bartering, Amalfi was minting its own gold coins and trading throughout the Mediterranean.
Cliff Hanging Amalfi
Views, vistas, and the sea
Watching the towers
The Watch Towers of Amalfi still stand today.

3.  Throughout the famous Amalfi Coast you’ll find a series of strategic watch towers. The tower system was designed to keep a watchful eye on the sea and help keep residents safe. Pirate like invaders plagued this area of Italy for centuries. Secret codes and a fire burning on top of the tower warned the community to seek shelter and flee into the mountains before the invaders arrived. Today the towers still stand, including some that are now private homes and rentals.

Strategic watchtowers like this one, still stand throughout the entire Amalfi Coast.
Amalfi’s watchtower

 4.  Despite its close proximity to Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula, Amalfi feels like another world–in part because of its successful trade throughout the Mediterranean. Trade helped make Amalfi rich and left an indelible mark on this coastal region of Italy. You can still see the influence today as you walk the streets lined with the pockets of Arab-Sicilian architecture. The domed white washed buildings, narrow passage ways, and covered walkways are all borrowed techniques compliments of Greece and North Africa.

Streets of Amalfi
Narrow passages designed to create shade run throughout Amalfi.
Amalfi Bell Tower
The bell tower of Amalfi features majolica tiles

5.  For many travelers, it is the highly recognizable Duomo of Sant’Andrea that defines Amalfi. Here too, you’ll see the influence of other cultures throughout the region. Standing as a glistening testament to Amalfi’s rich past, the Duomo of Sant’ Andrea dates back to the 9th century (with additions and changes throughout the centuries). The highly recognizable striped façade is the most recent addition to the cathedral and was completed in the 19th century.

Blown away by Amalfi and the Duomo
Amalfi Cathedral
The “new” part of the Duomo was completed in the 19th century.
The Breezeway
At the top of the stairs before you enter the cathedral, this beautiful breezeway awaits.

6.  Climb the stairs and walk through the breeze way to entry the Chiostro del Paradiso. Here you’ll find interlaced Romanesque arches and 120 columns. Completed in 1268 the Chiostro del Paradiso was a final resting place for the cities elite. Considered one of the most interesting structures on the Amalfi Coast, the Chiostro del Paradiso features a four-sided portico with cross vaults, pointed arches, twin columns and woven arches rich with Moorish influence.


Cloister of Paradise
Majolica tiles grace Amalfi’s bell tower.
Chiostro del Paradiso
The Moorish style cloister in the corner of Duomo.

7.  There are many beautiful details throughout the cloister and sometimes the stories they tell are fascinating–like this one in the corner of the portico. Here you’ll find a painting completed by a student of Giotto. You may recognize similarities between the beautiful blues and those of the magnificent Chapelle Scrovegni in Padua. The painting is unsigned, and no one can say for certain who the artist is. However, there may be another reason why this painter remained anonymous. The artist, who clearly was not a fan of the French Anjou rulers of Naples, took artistic license with his work. Look closely and you’ll see the soldiers responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in this painting are not Roman, but French Anjou!

French Anjou Soldiers
Re-writing history and making a political statement.


8.  For centuries, Amalfi was powerful, wealthy, and important. The blue and white cross of Amalfi is one of the four nautical crests featured on today’s Italian maritime flag. In the end, it was not an invader or another empire that changed the course of Amalfi, but the same sea that elevated Amalfi to greatness violently caused its dramatic demise.

Italia.Maritime Flag

9.   In 1343, a large portion of the city fell into the water following a tsunami and earthquake.  Around the same time, the plague was sweeping through the region. The devastation was so significant the city that ruled the Mediterranean would never regain its prominence.

10.  If you think Amalfi is special, you are not alone. In 1997 the entire Amalfi Coast became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


10 Fun Facts about Capri

Postcards & Prosecco

Capri, Campania

Edition 26 June 2019

  1. If you think Capri is special you are not alone. Long before today’s celebrities and millionaires found solace in this glamorous tiny Isle, the ancient Greeks and Roman emperors fell under her spell. There’s a good chance you will too.
Capri at sunset
A beautifully blue spring day above the famous Piazzetta in the center of Capri.

2. Capri has nearly always been prime real estate. Settled first by the Ancient Greeks in 8 BC, Capri has long been a desired location. In fact, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus became so enchanted with Capri, he traded the much larger isle of Ischia with the King of Naples for this three-square mile island–thus making it his private (and very adult) playground. A few years late, another Roman Emperor, Tiberius retired here and built himself a dozen homes in less than ten years. He also threw lavish parties, that sometimes ended badly, very badly for his guests. Over the centuries Capri has been home to monasteries, a respite for the infirmed during war time, and a see and be seen haven for the rich and famous.

Sea views from the 14th Century Certosa di San Giacomo Monastery

3.  In the Italian language, you’ll find two words for blue. There is blu, as in the English word blue. And then there is azzurro, best described as the enchanted color of the sky from high above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Your visit to Capri will be marked by the stunningly vibrant and different shades of blue blurring the line between sea and sky.

A picture perfect day.
The statue of a Scugnizzo lounging in the sun waves to you bringing you luck.

4. For many, Capri is synomyous with the Blue Grotto. This technocolored bright blue sea cave promises to take your breath away. The blue water is brightly illuminated as a sliver of sunlight is refracted into the cave, so deep that by the time the light reaches the water, all the red has been filtered out creating an electric combat blue and turning everything in the water to shades of silver.

Tiny tender row boats transport you to the Blue Grotto.

After you board the row boat, you’ll travel over to a floating cash register, where you will pay in cash for your entrance to the grotto. The rate changes daily and can range from 10 to 20 euros a person. Be sure to bring euros with you as this ticket, like many on Capri is cash only.

Ticket to ride Capri style.
One way in and out begins with a lean way back.

Inside the Blue Grotto, the walls appear very dark, the water so brilliant and blue it’s hard to imagine it’s natural. It’s a bit chaotic as a series of rowers are talking and singing to their passengers while making one circle around the grotto before exiting.

Resplendid in Blue.

While the Blue Grotto is by far the most famous of these sea caves, you’ll find many throuhgout this region. Swimming in the sea is magical and something I look forward to every summer.

Swimming in a nearby Grotto

Throughout Capri you’ll find Roman ruins, glittering grottoes, and sun-drenched stone paths. There’s the sweet smell of citrus in the air and bright bougainvillea around every corner.

Bright and beautiful bougainvillea lines the pathways of Ana Capri.

5.  From beneath the earth, to high above the sea, you’ll find a mystical view awaits as you journey to Ana Capri where Mt. Solaro and the Island’s highest point awaits. To enjoy these views, you’ll ride the open-air chair lift up to the top. At the top you’ll find incredible vistas that will lift you high above the clouds. You can linger a bit here, as the crowds thin out. You’ll also find a patio cafe selling snacks and beverages, along with tables and chairs, and restrooms.

The ride to the top of Monte Solaro
The view from the highest point on the Isle of Capri, Mt. Solaro and 1.932 feet above the sea.
Breathtaking views high above the clouds in Anacapri

6.  As you make your way back down to Ana Capri schedule time in your day for a visit to the church of San Michele. The church features a 18th century Abruzzo maiolica tile floor. The artwork and craftsmanship of Leonardo Chiaiese dates back to 1761, and remains one of the most impressive examples of this type of Neapolitan artwork.

The Church of San Michele in Ana Capri
Balcony view from San Michele

You’ll walk the perimeter of the church on wood beams providing you with an upclose view of the impressive design of the artwork. Before you leave, be sure to climb the narrow staircase to the balcony where you may find yourself speechless and the design takes on new dimension and scale when viewed from above. At the center, you’ll notice San Michele the Archangel with a flaming sword driving Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden while a menagerie of exotic animals look on.

7.  Watch your step, or in this case, the 921 steps that connect Marina Grande to Ana Capri. For centuries the Phoenician Steps were the only way to reach Ana Capri. Mistakenly named, the Phoenicians were never here on Capri. Rather, it was the Greeks that chiseled the stone stair passageway you can still climb today.

The Phoenician Steps lead down to the town of Capri.
Mistakenly named the Phoenician Steps the stairs were crafted by the Greeks.

8.  The flowers of Capri are special, extraordinary really when you realize the Isle is a large limestone rock. Yet, Capri is rich with flowers and gardens lovingly tended through the centuries including the Carthusian Monastery, the Gardens of Augustus, and the gardens of the Villa San Michele.

The flower market in Capri.
Making time to stop and smell the flowers in Capri.
White roses and bougainvillea line the San Michele walkway.

9.  The Augustus Gardens offer a colorful and shady backdrop to soak in the stunning vistas of Capri. An excellent place albeit usually crowded, to view the famous Faraglioni rocks of Capri, the botanical gardens include park benches and vistas with lovely balconies and terraces. Formerly a private garden for German industrialist Friedrich Alfred Krupp the grounds are enjoyed by many travelers and tourists alike.

Views and vistas await at the Augustus Gardens
Sculpture in the Augustus Garden.

10. The rocks of Capri, recognized throughout the world are known as Faraglioni. The best way to enjoy the view is by sea. Your captain will navigate through the Faraglione di Mezzo, the middle rock with the iconic arch as you journey around the magnificent island. Towering 100 meters above the sea, the closest to the shore is Stella, the middle with the famous arch, Faraglione di Mezzo, and the furthest from the shore, the Faraglione di Fuori. A fun fact, the lizards on these rocks camouflage blue, allowing them to blend in with the sea.

Sunset and the Faraglioni with friends

There is a lot to see and do on this small island. You cannot do it all in one day trip, and should not try to do so. Part of the charm of Capri includes travelling through the unhurried white washed pathways tucked out of sight and around nearly every bustling corner.

A quiet corner waiting for you in Ana Capri

To enjoy Capri, you will want to lose the crowds. Arrive early, consider staying overnight, or splurge on chartering a boat for the day and skip the mass transportation. One of the best ways to enjoy Capri, is by sea. When my friends come to visit, I recommend a sunset boat cruise around the island. It is the perfect way to serenely experience the magic of the island while escaping the mass tourism that overwhelms the island in the summer season. On land, be prepared to spend your day in full sun where you will do plenty of uphill walking. You’ll want sunscreen, sunglasses, and shoes that will help you travel in comfort and style.

Sunset and the Capri Punta Carena Lighthouse active since 1867.

Single use plastic bottles will soon be forbidden on the island, in a effort to combat the volume of trash left behind from the 2.3 million tourists the island sees each year.

Between the sky and the sea

Capri Sunset Cruise



EDITION 02   MAY 2018

If you think Capri is special you are not alone. Long before today’s celebrities and millionaires found solace in this glamorous tiny Island, the ancient Greeks and Roman emperors fell under her spell. For me, Capri is even more beautiful when viewed from the water, and a sunset cruise around the Island is the perfect place to enjoy the vibrant show of ever changing colors.


My View from Abroad





I walk by this Angel Statue nearly every day. She stands in memory of the Italian soldiers lost in the battles of World War I. The sword wielding angel, faces the water in the direction of Naples and stands directly in front of a school.

Italy is a country that reveres its children and has fewer of them than ever before. The birthrate here continues to decline and is one of the lowest in all of Europe. The children that are here are beloved. It seems as if everyone, young and old, joyfully acknowledges and warmly greets children in this country. A new baby and a beamingly proud mother in the neighborhood are treated like celebrities, with people running out of stores or across the piazza to greet them. It’s extraordinarily wonderful to see children so cherished, protected, and well cared for.

I participated in a language roundtable this week, talking in person with local Italians seeking to practice their English. As you can imagine, my table had questions that quickly turned political. But more than the tariffs, and the President himself, my table wanted to talk about guns in America. Here, the idea of guns in schools is vastly incongruent with the cultural values of the country. It seems so simple here, you protect and cherish what you love. And Italians love their children and families above all else.

The conversations, the continued shootings, the marches across the nation have all left me thinking a great deal about students, safety, and America. Progress is possible but change is necessary.

My time abroad makes it clear to me what makes America special is the opportunity it afford her citizens. Over our short history, Americans have continually adapted, changed, and evolved. In my lifetime I have seen changes to automobile safety; seatbelts, car seats, and MADD radically changing the course of drunk driving. I have seen changes in smoking regulations, prohibiting it from restaurants and while on airplanes. As a nation we’ve passed laws regulating the amount of advertising to children, while changing the legal drinking age, the legal age to buy cigarettes, and legalizing marijuana. Most recently, individual states stepped forward and lead the way to legalizing gay marriages.

We’ve faced divisive issues before and we’ve reached solutions that ultimately leave us better as a nation. The words of President Lincoln remind us that, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Through passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better Angels of our nature.” I pray the better angels will lead the way and effective policy change will be swiftly enacted on both the state and federal levels. I’m encouraged by the call to action I’ve seen and pray that someone in the halls of Congress, or leading one of the great States of our Union will stand like this sword wielding angel and protect what is most precious to so many of us– our children.




Summer in Sorrento




Join me for this video postcard and travel high above the sea, to a lemon scented Italian paradise.  South of Naples, nestled on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Sorrento features spectacular views from every direction including the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri. Greeks, Romans, and Italians have all called Sorrento home, weaving their culture into the charm and fabric of this city.  As I searched for the perfect place to host study abroad, it became clear that sun drenched Sorrento and the warm welcoming people of this town were exactly what I was looking for. And now, for a few glorious weeks this summer, my students and I will also call Sorrento home.

I’ll see you in Sorrento!

10 Fun Facts about Sorrento

Postcards and Prosecco

Sorrento, Italy

Edition 01   October 2017
  1. As you travel to Sorrento to savor this Italian paradise by the sea, you’ll become part of a tradition dating back more than 2,000 years.IMG_1773
  2. You’ll be in good company as the Greeks, Romans, and Italians have all woven their history into sun drenched Sorrento.
    IMG_1797 (1)
    Locals dance the Tarantella
  3. Legend has it that Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus’ villa was located on the same spot as today’s regal Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. 
  4. Lemons in Sorrento are considered the best in the world thanks to the mineral rich volcanic soil compliments of Mount Vesuvius. You’ll find them throughout the town filling the air with the sweet smell of citrus and delighting locals and vistors alike.
    Sorrento is the home of Limoncello
    Fruit Markets of Sorrento
    Fresh fruit markets with lemons of all sizes
  5. The cliffs of Sorrento will take your breath away. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans built a protective wall around the city. Over the centuries the walls became higher and higher creating magnificent views.
  6. Nestled on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Sorrento is perfectly situated to provide spectacular views from every direction including the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri.
  7. You’ve got it made in the shade in Sorrento. The ancient Greeks designed the narrow streets of Sorrento and intentionally positioned them to shade pedestrians from the sun. You’ll be glad they did as this walkable city is best enjoyed on foot.
    The narrow streets of Sorrento
  8. Location, location, location. With Sorrento as your home base you are within thirty minutes of Pompeii, Capri, and Positano.
  9. As you travel south from Sorrento you’ll experience one of the world’s greatest drives. The Amalfi Coast sits 500 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and promises to remind you to enjoy the journey.
  10. There’s a song about Sorrento and how this sweetly sun-drenched city will beckon you to return. It seems as if everyone wanted to sing about Sorrento, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Bocelli and Pavarotti. Visit Sorrento, and there’s a good chance you too may soon be singing about your “Return to Sorrento.”
    IMG_1760 (1)
    Sunset in Sorrento

    Click here for more information about how you can join me and study in Sorrento this summer.

Summer Solace

Postcards and Prosecco

Venice, Italy

Edition 01  July 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to travel.

As a small child, one of my favorite possessions was my suitcase. Delightfully adorned with lavender and blue hydrangeas in a seventies style tapestry, the single handle suitcase, held a place of honor in my childhood. When it wasn’t in use, I kept the suitcase by my bedroom door, in plain sight. I remember wistfully staring at it, dreaming of the places I would carry my suitcase and willing the adventures yet to come.

For more than a decade and a half I have been traveling with students, leading study abroad programs throughout the UK and Europe. I believe travel is essential for education, necessary for understanding, and good for the soul. Mark Twain explained beautifully that, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” I see his words ringing true each and every time I take a group of college students abroad. Their worlds change, history confronts them face to face, art overwhelms them, and modern day headlines and the ravages of war walk by them on the street.

University life is great work, meaningful, rewarding, and when done properly exhausting. At the end of my study abroad trips, I return to the same thought. I need some time to myself. To explore and to sit still. To think deeply and to wonder aimlessly. To return to old favorites and to find new adventures. And so nearly a year ago, I set to work planning my sojourn sans my students. In late Spring of this year, after completing my annual study abroad , I returned to Italy and settled in for a more authentic experience in a Venetian neighborhood know as Castello.

At times family and friends joined in the fun and at other times I travelled by myself. Along the way, I collected hundreds of photographs, drank the best coffee, wine, and prosecco of my life, and learned a great deal in the process. Now that I am back in Florida, and unpacking my bags, I’m ready to share my adventures with you. With Venice as my home base, join me as I travel both north and south, east and west to some of the most beautiful places on our planet.

Dear Venezia

Postcards and Prosecco

Venice, Italy

Edition 01  April  2017


Dear Venezia,

For many years, daydreams of you and your floating water colored castles sustained me, transported me, and carried me away. Still photographs frozen in time and artists’ renditions of you danced in my head, breathing life, and possibilities into my soul. You dear Venezia, delivered a much needed imaginary escape during a series of difficult and tragic times in my life.

Love at first sight

The poets echoing refrain and artists’ masterpieces made me love you, long before we met. For decades you graced my hallway, my desk, and my office, waiting for me to see you again. I heard you calling my name, but was too tired, too heartbroken to answer. Yet, you persisted. You remained in my every day, watching and waiting, decorating the backdrop of my life. And when death came to call a second time, leaving me standing yet again over a gloomy windswept grave, you waited no more. You came for me, rushing in, redirecting my plans, and willing me to your verdant marshes.

As the chimes ring and the pilot speaks I wake to see you from the air above. Still woozy with sleep, I stare silently in disbelief, at your verdantly green islands stretched beneath me. I fear my daydreams may be too lofty to sustain the weight of my expectations. Yet, the thought of you overwhelms my senses. I am equal parts excited and anxious. Curious questions cloud my thoughts.

With a mix of adrenaline and sea midst coursing through my veins, I taste the salt water spray on my lips as I travel from the east barrier island, the Lido. At long last, I make my way to you. Much like a bleary eyed child awakening on Christmas morn, I am astonished as I finally see you. I stare, scarcely breathing. In front of me, a kaleidoscope of improbable possibilities.  Technicolored moments long admired from across the Atlantic float majestically before me in sea of hypnotic Adriatic blue. Euphoria washes over me as my heart rate quickens. In this moment, I too am floating outside of myself, a soul set free leaving the terra firma in my wake.

Parting is such sweet sorrow