Here is a lovely story of a trip to Italy submitted by Gina Hanna . . .thank you for sharing it with us!

I have enjoyed (with envy) all the posts by everyone who has made a trip to Italy and had a chance to get to an IL VOLO concert.

I doubt I will be making a trip to Italy AGAIN so I closed my eyes and tried to remember the trip I and my family made to a beach on the ADRIATIC SEA.

Now you must UNDERSTAND we were In the US Army stationed At Bad Kreuznach Germany and on a budget. So this story will not have much glamour.

My friend Anna, who was stationed in Frankfurt, invited her elderly aunt, who had just married, to spend their “honeymoon” in Italy. Then my husband’s young brother decided to come over to Germany and go with us to the beach. My three young children invited one of their good friends.

We had shipped over an OPEN ROAD camper as our transportation during our Army tour so we packed the camper with everything we thought we could not live without, packed the kids, my husband’s brother Rick and picked up Patty on the way to Italy. Anna with her aunt and new uncle drove her car.

About a hundred miles on the road Rick discovered he forgot his passport on the dining room table. Same was discovered with Patty. We knew that Italy would let us in but we might have problems coming back to Germany. Decided to keep going.

I will not describe the trip with four children ages 9 and three 6. “Are we there yet?”, was their favorite conversation.

We had rented two cabins on the beach. One for Anna and one for us. Within seconds the kids found out that the Italian children (girls)  did not wear tops of their bathing suits. Modesty was the conversation but finally settled on the individual’s choice. The group of four was made up of three girls and one boy.

After a group conference it was decided to go to VICENZA to look around and then go to the Army base laundromat to do all the sand-soaked clothes. While there we went to a ceramic factory and “loaded” up on pretty bowls and ceramic chandeliers.  Back to the beach.

Vicenza on Map
Vicenza on Map and website –
Città di Vicenza A collage of Vicenza showing: the Villa Capra “La Rotonda”, the classical temple in the Parco Querini, a panorama of the city from the Monte Berico, the Piazza dei Signori and the Renaissance Basilica Palladiana.

One more group conference and the decision was to go by boat to VENICE. We squeezed on this hot boat and hoped we make it  to see a gondola. The boat stopped right at San Marco’s square. Everyone was hot and thirsty so we sat down at one of the tables on the square and ordered Iced tea. WELL besides busting our budged due the exorbitant prices the “Iced Tea” was warm. “Refreshed” we then made a tour of interests on the square and wound up at a crystal store.

The tourist blood boiling in our bodies we started the shopping. The store had several floors and the higher the more expensive. We shopped on the first floor and again  bought a chandelier. To this day I do not know why the fascination with chandeliers since we were living in base housing and crystal chandeliers did not fit with the “decor”. A year after trying to clean all the tangling crystals I sold it to an unsuspecting newcomer.

St. Mark’s Square

St. Mark's Square overview– St. Mark’s Square overview-

St. Mark's Basilica– St. Mark’s Basilica-

St. Mark's Campanile– St. Mark’s Campanile-

Doge's Palace– Doge’s Palace-

The Basilica of San Marco overlooks one of the most beautiful squares in the world, a real marble salon, the city center for centuries. Next to both the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, all the most important religious and civil ceremonies have always been held there and now the Piazza San Marco is considered the city’s main symbol and tourist attraction.

This great square overlooking the water is a mixture of spaces, volumes and styles: the Procurator’s residence, the bell tower, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansoviniana Bookshop.

On Ascension Day, the Doge and the city’s most important members got on board and sailed out to the Adriatic, to the Lido port. Here the Doge threw a ring, symbolizing union between Venice and water, into the sea and pronounced the solemn formula: “We wed you oh sea, in the sign of true, eternal dominion“.

Now to the highlight of the trip. A RIDE IN A GONDOLA. We found an empty gondola and asked how much? The price was astronomical so we went into the bargaining mode.  This poor gondolier gave in and took 8 of us for one price and then got yelled at by the other gondoliers for taking so many and and not sharing.  We had a “wild” ride thru some canals and were happy to get back on solid ground. Where was Ignazio singing “O Sole Mio”? Not born yet since this was 1975.  All the movies presented a different picture of a gondola ride.


A Practical Boat for Romantic Venice

The gondola originated in Venice, Italy, that magical city situated on a series of six islands at the edge of the Adriatic Sea. The “streets” of Venice are waterways, making boats the official transportation choice.

Of all the differing watercrafts in Venice, the gondola is the most well-known. It is an ancient row boat, evolving over the last 1,000 years to become the sleek, graceful shape you see today. Its unique, asymmetrical design allows just one oarsman to navigate the narrow Venetian waterways using a single oar.

Time to go back to Germany. Problem Rick’s lack of a passport. After checking we were told that he had to go to Trieste and get the papers to get back home. He went on his own and came back with the right papers. We hid Patty in the camper’s bathroom.

We packed, loaded all our purchases in every space we could find and hoped no one would stop us and ask why we had all these chandeliers. Anna left her purchases with us.

As it turned out no one asked us for passports at the German border and no one checked the van for the chandeliers.


We loved every minute of the trip and started talking where to go next.


Credit to all owners of photos, websites and videos.


  1. Gina, what a wonderful story! I loved the simplicity of your trip and ultimate joy you experienced. So happy you were able to have a gondola ride (even minus Ignazio) it is such an amazing thing to do. Thank you for sharing your story!!

  2. PS…I forgot to comment on Piazza San Marco and the Basilica. We were in awe at the size of the piazza. The photos do not do it justice as to how spacious and magnificent the area really is…and the Basilica left us speechless…such exquisite beauty! Your photos bring it all back. 🙂

  3. What a great adventure. It it obvious you enjoyed your visit very much to be able to have such a wonderful memories to share with us.

  4. While stationed in Germany we tried to take one trip with the children and one by ourselves. We got to Paris, London, Spain and Holland. All lovely and full of great memories.

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