In case you missed it, here’s the latest from our Enlightened Mama/Enlightened Wellness monthly newsletter….
As I sit on my couch, snuggled under a blanket, with light snow dropping outside215 my window, it seems unbelievable to think that just three weeks ago, I was basking in the sunshine at a secret, locals-only beach, in the grand city of Napoli, as the kiddos splashed around in the Mediterranean Sea.  Our bellies were full of fresh pasta, pizza, and wine (only Chris and I on the wine part) and our hearts full of gratitude for the opportunity to spend ten days in Southern Italy together on an amazing family adventure.
In short, our trip was fabulous.  The extended version?  It was fabulous, but also the greatest lesson in patience, fortitude, and faith I’ve experienced.  The whole trip is a bit of a novella, but here are the some of the highlights:
             Italy, here we come!
–Missing our connection in Rome followed immediately by Chris misplacing our suitcase, then two hours of me and the children hanging out in the terminal waiting for him to find it.  Upon finding it, we opted to rent a car and drive to Napoli as opposed to paying the money for the flight change, then had to exchange the rental car before even leaving the parking lot, since driving a manual transmission is not one of my talents.  Good thing, since I happened upon my bag housing all of our electronics just outside the rental car office, left there by a man who will remain unnamed (but I’ll give you one guess.)  I’ll give it up to myself and my children for tons of patience with my betrothed during that whole ordeal, with a huge amount of faith gained for the Italian people for not stealing my stuff.
–Navigating Naples and the surrounding area sans any real maps or GPS, as we thought we had packed all of our Italy maps, thus feeling above the need for GPS. Turns out we had nothing but our internal compasses, some pseudo-directions from many fabulous and kind Italians, and an enormous amount of patience, fortitude, and faith. This came in handy as we got lost on every single day of our adventure.  And if you’re wondering, driving through tiny cobblestone streets packed with cars, scooters, and pedestrians, with no signs and a complete lack of traffic laws can be a bit nerve-wracking.
–On the subject of getting lost….sometimes it’s a pretty wonderful twist of fate.  On the day of our big arranged tour of Pompeii, we initially got just lost enough to miss our tour bus, which meant we had to drive their ourselves.  This would have been no issue if we actually knew where we were going, so we got lost (again!) This time is was pretty grand, as we found ourselves heading up Mt. Vesuvius.  As we arrived near the top, we realized that there was an option to hike the last 8 kilometers in order to peer down into the volcano itself.  Despite recommendations against it from a few folks who had just completed it, we went for it!  It was a long climb up, especially given the fact that we were all wearing sandals, yet, it really felt like there was no option not to do it.  After all, the whole trip was about Giacomo experiencing things he might not otherwise, and standing at the top of Mt. Vesuvius is definitely an experience like none other.  There was nothing but fortitude for the five of us, as we climbed that summit (sorry Isadora–I get the extra fortitude for carrying you the whole way up and down!), combined with faith from the children to believe Chris and I that there was actually a top despite seemingly being lost in the clouds, along with Chris and I having tons of patience with the incredibly frequent stops requesued by the children to take breaks along the way.

From the top of Mt. Vesuvius
–Having faith that everything would all work out, despite our challenges, was an essential element to our entire trip.  This was incredibly evident when a lack of planning on our part brought us to the Catacombs of Cappuccini in Palermo (Giacomo’s biggest part of his wish) just as they were closing.  In order for him to see them, we had no choice but to stay an extra day in Palermo to tour them. Our extra day meant a bonus trip to the beach and the alleged best gelato in Sicily (we would agree!)  Similar poor planning also led us to miss our return flight home, but a little faith, fortitude, and patience later, and we found ourselves getting an incredible spare day in Italy! This meant a stay at a quaint bed and breakfast near the airport with taxi arrangements to ensure making our revised flight home (accommodations made by some guy working at the Delta Airlines counter,) two of our best meals in the ten days of travel, great boutique shopping, plus an incredibly relaxing final day as a family in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
All in all, we have no complaints, and only joy and immense gratitude for our Italian adventure.  The lessons learned on our trip are ones that we will all take with us on the journey of life, as it seems that having a little patience, fortitude, and faith can actually get you through just about anything.
In Gratitude, Liz Abbene
(for a more complete look at our trip, check out this video)