The morning after we checked into the Palazzo we met Floriana. Born and raised in Soriano, this beautiful young woman led us and our new companions on a walking tour of the village and the castle. She shared the village history in such a real manner that I half expected to see Roman soldiers awaiting us as we crossed the drawbridge into the castle. Another day Floriana took us to meet her friend, the Princess Giada Ruspoli, and we were all invited by the Princess to have lunch with her in the private quarters of her castle in the village of Vignanello. Lunch with a Princess! This was every girls dream and I was so excited at the prospect. Princess Ruspoli was pleasant and friendly and her staff served us a wonderful lunch while we ate and sipped wine in her private quarters in front of a roaring fire. Her beautiful castle has an amazing history all of its own, including playing host to Popes and to George Frideric Handel himself. She shared the history of the castle and her family as she led us on a private tour of the castle. After this wonderful lunch and castle tour, Floriana took us to the small village church which boasts an organ built by Handel in the 16th century, while he stayed in Vignanello as a guest of the Ruspoli family. This castle and church are not on the tourist lists of
and had it not been for Floriana and her relationship with the Princess we would never have known of this historical gem. As we sat in the wooden pews of the church, the organist played the organ and Floriana sang the most beautiful version of "Ava Maria" I have ever heard. The accoustics were amazing and the organ had perfect pitch. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to the sweet sound of Floriana's voice and thought of the history I was experiencing that day. Italy
And on yet another day Floriana and her talented friends entertained us with an opera dinner at the Palazzo. The talents of this little troupe was very evident and we all enjoyed the evening immensely. These activities allowed us a rare peek into the lives of the local Italian people and each of us came away feeling richer for the experience.
We had numerous wonderful experiences in
, more then I can possibly share in this blog. We made a connection with each person we met, and made friends quickly for the remainder of our time there. For me, the real beauty of travel is meeting fellow humans across the globe. My true meaning of humanity is the realization that we are all the same inside, no matter where we are born or the upbringing we experience. Our dreams and hopes, our fears, longings and our prayers echo those of each other. I look forward to my next adventure! Italy