A love letter to... Italy

My heart is aching for Italy.

I was supposed to be on my way there next week for a cruise north from Venice. I was fizzing with excitement about the sightseeing, the food, the wine, the people. Waking in a new town and city each day. The photos I would take; the stories I would be able to share.

Once, in 2014, I visited Rome for a whirlwind three day trip. I instantly fell in love with this chaotic, beautiful, ancient city and all it had to offer. I ticked off all the top tourist sights — the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps — but it was somewhere unexpected that I first gave my heart. Walking down a tiny laneway on my first morning, I stepped inside what looked from the outside like a non-descript church. Walking through the doors I was overwhelmed — the walls and ceiling were covered in the most beautiful gold mosaics and frescoes, the shafts of light were streaming so perfectly through the cupola windows, and the sense of peace was absolute.

One day, I shall go back to Italy and explore more. I'll stand in wonder on the Bridge of Sighs, walk the colourful paths of the Cinque Terre, eat pizza in Naples, gelato in Florence, and stroll happily in St Marks Square.

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I'll find that little church in Rome, sit quietly and remember this time — the moment I wrote this letter with an aching heart — and feel so profoundly grateful that it passed.

For the latest advice about Italy, see safetravel.govt.nz