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I never realized how one trip would change my life ~ Gloria Coppola

In a bygone era, a curious child of a mere tender years of five, found herself perched amidst the chatter of grown-ups in a New York City apartment complex. The year was the late 1950s, and it was a lifetime ago, for certain. Amidst the exchange of pleasantries, the child's senses were drawn to the wondrous tales of her aunt's travels, bringing with her a cache of leather treasures. The family marveled at the exotic finds, but the little one's mind fixated on a pristine white glove, which she gingerly grasped, savoring the buttery softness that felt like plush velvet. It was a texture unlike anything she had felt before, as her gloves were only of wool or cotton. But this one had an alluring scent that tickled her imagination, a fragrance that piqued her curiosity. She couldn't help but yearn for more.

This sprightly and bubbly 5-year-old burst in, for she reveled in the company of her elders. "Oh Aunt Mary, where did you get this soft glove? "With those words, a tale was born, one that would leave a wide-eyed little girl - me - entranced. As I snuggled closer, Aunt Mary wove a spellbinding story of her escapades of shopping on the winding streets of Florence, Italy. "Italy? Where might that enchanting land be?" My parents silenced me with a finger to the lips. Despite my eagerness to find out more, the family chatter took center stage, leaving my curiosity hanging.

Aunt Mary was a jet-setting superstar in my eyes, constantly swooping off to the magical land of Italy, bringing back treasures and tales of her adventures with long-lost aunts in far-off towns. Not quite as elaborate has my imagination would conjure up. I was all ears, but alas, my questions were met with frustrating silence. But, boy, did that curiosity bug bite me hard!

Though my curiosity burned bright, my lips remained sealed, leaving me yearning for more. Then one day, the winds of fate shifted, and Aunt Mary returned with a gift from the fabled lands - a pair of delicate white gloves, fashioned from the finest Italian leather. With a smirk on her face, she looked down at me, handing me the very same gloves I admired a couple of years prior. As I donned them for my first communion, I felt like a princess, basking in the wonder of this magical gift from afar.

As if in the blink of an eye, the sands of time trickled down, and I was bidding adieu to the hallowed halls of High School. A paragon of academic excellence, my report card gleamed with triumph in most domains, except for a subject that never quite piqued my interest - history. Yet, a peculiar enchantment lingered in the tales of ancient lands, and little did I know that it would ensnare my imagination for years to come. Who knew one day ancient history would intrigue me more than most mundane things I've studied.

As graduation loomed, Dad popped the usual question: "What do you want as a gift?" My mind instantly went to Italy, but I knew my folks' budget wouldn't stretch that far. So, I braced myself for the usual reply: "Work for it, kiddo!"

However, this time, I refused to let my dream slip through my fingers. With a tenacity born of a fierce resolve, I pledged to gather the necessary funds and make the journey to the land of my heart's desire, even if it meant traversing the vast, unfathomable depths of the ocean!.

I asked my boss at the grocery store if I could work extra hours to save up for something special. But, my mom was concerned it would distract me from my studies leading up to graduation. Late at night, I'd confide in her about my burning desire to explore new places. She heard me out and offered to speak to my father. Could it be? Was I actually going to pack my bags for Italy? This was 1973, so there were no computers to help me plan my trip. And much to my surprise, my father acquiesced, granting me permission to chase my Italian dream. And so, the adventure began.... well, if I paid for it all.

As I would later learn, my dad wanted me to figure it out on my own. He was a tough cookie, but it only made me more determined and driven to achieve my goals in life.

Back in the day, the library was the only resource available for research. I remember spending countless hours browsing through shelves until a kind librarian directed me to the travel section. Her guidance not only answered my questions, but also provided some valuable tips for this curious teenager, leading to my first adventure in the beautiful land of Italy.

As time quickened its pace, I found myself standing in the midst of the wondrous ancient wonders of Florence, Italy. At every turn, my senses were engulfed in a symphony of beauty, and I began to see the world through the eyes of my beloved Aunt Mary. With each passing moment, my heart was captivated by the enchanting spell of this place. Soon, I would fall in love. My heart is forever in Florence and honestly, all of Italy. It's a soul home for me, I believe.

Oh, the places I've been! My sea-faring adventure took me to every nook and cranny of this stunning land, each one a surprise package. I scribbled in my journal for years, soaking up the vibes of each stop, gushing over the locals, the dazzling culture, and oh my, the gelato! Yes, I fell in love with Gelato!

In half a century's time, I revisited my journals, discovering a tale begging to be told. While it may not rival Aunt Mary's exploits, my journey will be one of wonder, brimming with love, and spiritual epiphanies aplenty. And if you want to read about many of them, grab a copy of my 3 time award winning book based on my travels with a wee bit of embellishment for additional intrigue.

You never know where one trip may lead in your life.

Soul-cations offers small group excursions with moi, your host, Gloria Coppola.


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