A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Part VI ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah

The Final Chapter or “Oh, go home already!  Haven’t you had enough magic happen?” ~Marie

May 22: Excelsior Palace Hotel, Taormina  

Before we went to Taormina we took Maria to her brother Gaetano’s house in Catania, where she was to stay another 2 weeks! Her brother was very happy to see Maria after all these years! He invited us into his beautiful home where we met his wife and toured their apartment which was just lovely and filled with all kinds of beautiful decorative items.

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Maria’s sister-in-law, Cettina, invited us into her kitchen and fed us in the true Italian custom, course after course! After about 2 or more hours we said goodbye to Maria and left her with her brother and sister-in-law.

From there, the remaining trio and our guide went to Mt. Etna, 6,000 feet up the mountain; the other 4,000 feet could only be traveled by cable car, and they were not running that day because of the wind. There was lots of lava rock on the hillside which depleted any vegetation where it formed. We walked part way up to one of the craters and Ciro & Deborah went up further. The wind was so strong Deborah felt she would be blown off the mountain!! The view from Etna is breathtaking!

We finally arrived at our hotel in Taormina late afternoon. We did the necessary check-in and put our luggage in our rooms. Once checked in, we then headed out on foot to the beautiful city of Taormina.

Taormina is a very touristy town; in fact, it was the first tourist city in Sicily. A German writer went there to write and that attracted other Germans to vacation there and take photographs which led to businesses opening up in the city. The first establishment was a German Bar.

May 23:

We went to the Teatro Grecco, the theater where Il Volo performed their very first concert in Italy, July 20, 2014, and because it sold out so quickly, they added the next day, July 21, to the schedule. We sat on the concrete seats that surround the theater and watched workmen prepare the stage for upcoming events (an opera was going to be performed there soon).

After touring we went to town again, which was right outside of our hotel. We went through the three arches which separate one part of Taormina from another part – the old and the new. We went into shops and just walked the beautiful street. At the square we took pictures of the seascape and noticed small padlocks along the railing. Ciro explained that it was a sign of true love. Many years ago a young couple vowed their lifelong love for each other by putting the lock on the railing and tossing the key into the sea below. Ever since, many couples perform the same ritual along that railing.

Ciro told us we would stop somewhere special to have the best granite ever!! When we arrived there, Deborah said “Look where we are!! BamBar!! Ciro said, “you know this place?” and we said “of course, this was on our list of places to see, and Il Volo was here last year!!” We sat outside and Saretto (Saro) Bambara, the owner of BamBar, came to our table and talked to us for quite a while about the boys. We enjoyed every bit of the granite, and every minute of our conversation with Saro. Saro is very close to the boys and he took a selfie with all of us and sent it to Gianluca!

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The inside of BamBar is filled with pictures of famous people who have been there… Il Volo, Michael Douglas & Antonio Banderas, Rosario Fiorello, etc.

We went back to the hotel and showered and dressed in our Il Volo shirts, then we went to Castelmole, an artists town way up in the mountains. We stopped at Turrisi Bar, which is famous for its penises! Yes, you read right – penises!! We had a drink there – Limoncello – as we admired all the, let’s say, figurines and artifacts!! It overlooks the sea and of course there are beautiful views. This bar is 4 stories high and we stayed on the second story and took pictures of the beautiful view while enjoying our drinks.

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When we finished our sightseeing of the outskirts of Taormina, we went back to the town center for dinner. Ciro dropped us off at the edge of the other side of town and told us where he would meet us for dinner, but we couldn’t find the restaurant (thanks to the Limoncello!!) and Ciro was already there, curious as to our whereabouts (and even a little worried we think), when we finally found it. There are so many little alleyways (for lack of a better word) along the main street with so many restaurants that we couldn’t find the one we were looking for.

When we finally sat down at our table, all 3 of us in our IL Volo 2014 tour shirts, people throughout the restaurant noticed us. Three young girls at the table next to us started a conversation about our shirts and Il Volo and, of course, it went on the entire evening.

The best part of the night (for us Sicilians) was when the street singers appeared. We were so elated to have heard them coming our way, and when they got to the top of the street where we were seated, they saw our IL Volo shirts and came to our table.

THEY WERE THE SAME MUSICIANS/SINGERS THAT APPEARED WITH IL VOLO AT THEIR FIRST CONCERT IN TAORMINA IN 2014!!! This group serenaded us for quite a while, singing one of Ignazio’s songs, Quando L’Amore Diventa Poesia, and a few others!

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After a superb evening, we went back to the hotel to watch the Eurovision contest. On our walk back, people on the street kept pointing at us and saying “IL VOLO.”

Because the lounge in our hotel had a large screen TV, we sat there to watch the contest instead of going to one of our rooms to watch it. Even though our sweet, talented young men didn’t win first place (everyone knows it was fixed) they are in first place in our hearts!!!

When the show was over, around midnight, Deborah, Joan, and Madeline hashed over the contest and finally went to our rooms.

May 24:

This was a bittersweet day because we had to leave Sicily to go back to Rome for our last night; however we still had one more stop to make!

Hotel Monte Tauro – where the boys stayed last year for the Taormina concerts. It is a 5 star hotel with a phenomenal view of the sea! The hotel clerk allowed us to take pictures in the lobby and she even took photos of us sitting on the couches where the boys sat last year! This hotel is truly befitting our exquisite, classy young men!

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Against our will, we drove to the Catania Airport for our flight to Rome. After going through security, Joan and Madeline headed up the escalator for the terminal. They couldn’t figure out where Deborah got to, when suddenly they saw commotion below them in the glass elevator, only to see that Deborah was stuck in the elevator!!… she couldn’t get the UP button to move and the door wouldn’t open for her to get out! It took 2 employees about 5 minutes to extricate her! While we felt bad for Deborah, we couldn’t help but laugh!

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Once we landed in Rome we took a shuttle to the Marriott Park Hotel, which was beautifully appointed; everything there was elegant. Because Deborah is a Marriott Gold Elite member, the three of us were able to sit in the lounge and have drinks and food on the house, thus eliminating the need for dinner. (With Deborah’s VIP status, Joan and Madeline were able to enjoy other upgrades as well). Deborah, Joan, and Madeline sat around in the lounge eating, drinking, facebooking, and talking about the wonderful experiences we had on this trip.

May 25: The Party’s Over

After a wonderful complementary full breakfast, Madeline and Joan bid goodbye to Deborah to go to the airport for the flight back to Philadelphia. Deborah was taking a later flight back to Pisa to catch her flight to Elba d’Isola where she was meeting one of her sons, his wife and her 4 grandchildren for yet another beautiful vacation.

This was truly the trip of a lifetime, and as our guide, Ciro, titled it – “The Four Beautiful American Ladies for Il Volo 2015 Tour.”

We hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to Italy. For more information or additional photos please send a private FB message to Madeline, Deborah, Maria or Joan. Grazie!


Your trip was of what dreams are made.  Thank You Maddie, Deborah, Joanie and Maria for allowing us to enjoy your fabulous adventure as you lived it!  Like Gale Wall said yesterday, “.. You made the land and it’s people come to life for us..” ~Marie

29 thoughts on “A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Part VI ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah”

  1. I would like to thank everyone for allowing us to relive this adventure with you, and a special thanks to Marie for posting it on this wonderful site! We hope you enjoyed reading about our encounters with the relatives and friends of our beloved Il Volo, and visualizing the beautiful countryside of this magical land, it’s history, and its people! Ciao a tutti!

    1. Maddie, thank YOU for sharing your vacation with everyone. It was so well written I think every one of us felt like we experienced the same excitement as you all did. I will say the one thing that got me was your emotional experience in the town of your ancestors. I could only imagine what you felt as I know I would feel the same. My parents were to take a trip to Italy and all was planned in Spring of 1994 to visit our ancestry land of Basilicata and Naples (as well as other cities). They were not able to take that trip as my father passed in Dec of 1993. I know as soon as I would take one breath of Italian air, I would just break down. I’m so glad you had that opportunity to visit your ancestral city and had the other ladies by your side.

      There is no other title that you all experienced but “Trip of a Lifetime”.

      1. Leelee it is so sad when things like that happen. when we approached the city and I saw the sign I just pictured my grandmother in her apron and the bun in her hair. She lived with us until her death 55 years ago. And then my more modern mother (who died of pancreatic cancer within 3 months of the diagnosis) flashed before my eyes and and I just got so welled up and then the tears started to flow. They are both in my heart at all times. I am so glad that I got to go there and am planning another trip for 2017, Lord willing, vowing to spend more time in Casteltermini.

        Thank you and all the readers for your kind words and for taking the journey to Il Volo Land with us!

        Love and regards,

      2. This ‘trip of a lifetime’ was for me also a dream come true. It was 50 years since I returned to my home land. It was even more special traveling with the ‘girls’. I was so glad that I was still able to speak Italian and communicate with Ercole, Eleonora and Nina and all the others that did not speak English. It was an honor to know them.

    2. On maddie, thanks to all of you for sharing your magical italian vacation. I would be lying if I said I was not a bit envious of your adventures. I could almost Invision everything you are describing. You are a wonderful writer. Glad you all had a lovely time. I bet you were reluctant to leave that beautiful country. I know I was. Thanks Marie for posting Maddie’s and the other ladies’ incredible and UNFORGETABLE vacation.

      1. We did all have a wonderful time and our experiences were once in a lifetime. I know they were for me. Not only the IL Volo portion but the other 3 weeks I spent with my brother and family in Catania. I am ready to go next year!!

  2. Awesome, wonderful as always boys, meraviglioso and in spain maravilloso, because here is Spanish version Grande Amore, I love it <3 Me encanta esta canción <3 :-).

    1. We will certainly re-live this trip many times and sharing it with our friends on the Flight Crew and Facebook was the BEST !

  3. Thank you Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah for sharing all of your fantastic dream vacation. You were so smart to wear your IL Volo shirts on the day of the Eurovision contest! Ciro sounds like he was just a lovely considerate guide to have. Truly this vacation was blessed with all manner of good fortune Thank you again for sharing it with us.

  4. Ladies what a wonderful trip you had thank you all for thinking of all of us and sharing your special trip with all of us. Who knows maybe some of us will get lucky enough to someday do what you four did but if we can’t you helped us believe in the goodness of life. Again thank you for the wonderful post.

  5. What a wonderful, wonderful journey! I have looked forward to reading your journal every day and am sad it has ended. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    1. Of course there are other bits that were too trivial or long to put in our Journal….but that’s what Facebook is for.

  6. I thank all of you for sharing your trip with us!! Reading it was as if I was there with all of you. Thanks, Marie for posting this. I was so jealous of all of you, but I enjoyed it and I felt I could even taste the flavors of the foods you ate, but talking to relatives of our “men” was so exciting. I got goosebumps through your whole trip. I know it was a vacation that all of you will never forget! Thanks again. Take Care, Victoria

  7. I have a question…….. Does any of the people use the
    computer?……. I was just wondering if any of them follow
    the Flightcrew blog and read what we write about…….They
    possibly might if they knew about it…….. Just a thought.

    1. Gail, you pose a great question. Yes, everyone uses the computer or some other electronic device to access social media, so I will put this blog out there if that’s ok with Maria, et al.

      1. I knew you meant me, Maddie. There’s just a lot of Maria’s around.

        Of course you may put this blog “out there”! Thanks for asking! ~M

  8. Well– Our journey has ended but our fond memories of all the truly wonderful people we met along the way and the beautiful country we were able to experience and explore will live on forever in our hearts.
    Thank you so much Marie for giving the Flight Crew the opportunity to follow us from the beginning to the end of our adventure. I hope you all enjoyed reading about our Trip of a Lifetime !!
    And a special thank you to Madeline who painstakingly took notes everyday of our journey and put them into this wonderful journal so that four woman that were brought together because of their love for three beautiful young men, can relive their friendship and memorable trip forever.

  9. Buongiorno tutti! I have finally found the right moment to catch up on everything. I want to thank you Marie for posting our dream come true on your site! It was truly an amazing trip of a lifetime and I loved all your comments when we posted on fb while in Italy & Sicily, as well as all your comments here. I am so happy to have made so many new friends because of these three beautiful, talented, wonderful young men, as they have brought so much joy to my life as well! We were so happy to share our wonderful moments and experiences with you and all ILVolovers thoughout the world. Grazie mille! Deborah

  10. This was a wonderful series of stories of a fabulous trip to Italy. Thank you for sharing your adventures and helping us see where our Italian ancestors came from. Trip of a lifetime is so appropriate. Thank you again.

    1. Because of our wonderful IL Volo and their wonderful families, I know my memories are fantastic!

  11. To all: I couldn’t have made a better statement than what Joan and Deborah wrote above. Thank you so much for traveling with us on this journey, and hope you will all get the opportunity we have had to travel to the beautiful country that our boys love so much. Grazie.

    1. I am totally in agreement with this sentiment. GO
      if you possible can and can afford it. It is worth it.

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