This story is about my Dad and Mum on their second trip back home together, but without us kids as we had all settled down.
Mum said to Dad after sadly one of his older brothers had passed away that it was time to go back home one more time and catch up with all their family and friends.
Flying Qantas they arrived at Fiumicino Airport on 1st July, 1998, which was also Mum's birthday. They then had to take a small Alitalia Airlines plane to Palese Airport in Bari. Nicola, who is Dad's niece's son picked them up from the airport and then they headed back to Zia Angela's house which is where they would be staying. All the family including Dad's special sister Santa were all there waiting with open eyes and arms. They were over the moon to have Dad back home again and to see Mum.
Zia Angela lived in Via Mazzini, but during the day Mum and Dad would stay in Via Roma, which is where Dad's big sister and nephew Franco lived. Then at night they would go back and sleep at Zia Angela's house.
After 15 days with family and friends, they then went to Rome to stay at the Beverley Hills Hotel where they would catch the tour 'Insight' to travel throughout Italy. Even though they were born in Italy, there was so much of this amazing Country that they had never seen. They met some lovely people and had such a memorable time.
When the tour was over, they caught a small plane from Rome and went to Catania, Sicily for a few days. They then caught a taxi to Taormina followed by a bus to Messina where they stayed for a few days catching up with some family friends. Back at Taormina they caught a Traghetto (ferry) to go to Villa San Giovanni in Reggio Calabria. They then caught a train to Mum's hometown of Cozenza where they stayed in a Hotel for 4 days and caught up with all their family and friends and explored Mum's home town.
On the morning that they were to leave Cosenza, a relative of Mum's came to pick them up and took them to the station as they were going back to Bari. They stayed there for another 15 days with Zia Santa in Via Roma. They went to lots of unforgettable places together while they were there. They went to Monte Sant'Angelo, Padre Pio and Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata in Foggia. They visited the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari. They made precious memories together at Lungomare in Bari which Dad always talked about and told me that I had to visit there one day. They also went to Dad's home in Bitritto where he grew up and which is still owned by his younger brother.
Mum tells me that they also did a day in Bitritto just by themselves exploring Dad's hometown.
On the 1st September when leaving Bari for Toronto Canada, Dad's neice Angela and her two son's Frank and Nicola took them to the airport in Rome. Dad was really sad to be leaving them, but also happy as he would be seeing his big brother who he was always close to growing up.
Before arriving in Canada, they had to take a British Airways plane to London. Mum told me that the Heathrow airport was so big that they had to catch a bus just to get to where their plane was taking off and that they nearly missed it.
They finally arrived in Canada later that same day. They stayed there for about a month living with family and catching up with some old friends. One of them was another Luigi from his school days who gave him a copy of their class photo. Dad was so happy and now I have it. Dad celebrated his birthday there and had such a great day and night. They spoilt him with love and gifts, but he deserved it. I sent him a card, but sadly it didn't get there in time.
On the 1st October, they arrived in Miami, but only for a short time and then they boarded an American Airlines plane bound for Caracas, Venezuela. They stayed there for 3 weeks catching up with Dad's nephews and neices and a few special friends. One of them was his best friend Luigi who he had also gone to school with and got up to mischief with when he was a teenager. The smile on Dad's face said it all. They left there with amazing memories.
Then on 22nd October, they arrived in Dallas Fort Worth for a short time and then off to Los Angeles where they would let themselves go. Mum was so happy that she stayed at the Regent Beverley Wilshire which is where 'Pretty Woman' was filmed. They also went off to Disneyland where they went crazy on all the rides like they were young teenagers in love. Mum just followed Dad as he wanted to do anything and everything. Maybe one day I won't be so scared of rides.
I'm so happy that Mum and Dad got to experience this amazing trip together. Dad actually bought a movie camera with him and I was so proud that he had learnt how to use it as he bought us back memories of their trip. There were no iphones back then and the camera was a little heavy, but not only did he manage to work it out, he did an amazing job with it. My Dad was pretty clever when he believed in himself. Now, I get to share these memories and they will live on with my two boys, Sam and Luke and their families one day.