The Physics laboratory lab is located at Gran Sasso, Italy's highest peak in the Apennine mountain range. The Gran Sasso underground lab is the worlds largest and I was fortunately to be given a personalize tour by Dr Sandro Bettini.
I was based in L'Aquila a closeby thriving medieval college town. My fondest memory of Abruzzo was a day spent exploring the ancient hill top villages, and the ancient Assergi village, home of a number of Australian expats located at the foot of Gran Sasso.
While in Italy I had arranged "homestays" through an international networking site.
In Florence I spent a long weekend with Luisa who works with a nonprofit that supports micro entrepreneurs, specifically Italian artisans and provincial food vendors. Luisa is a budding painter and a truly adventurous woman. She generously opened her home and friendships for my Tuscany visit, (I fulfilled a dream to shop for ingredients and cook a meal in Italy). Afternoon tea at Elisabeta's Tuscan villa'ette was also a charming treat.
From my time in Florence I have fond memories of the Mercato Centrale and the true living history treasures of Italy.
Strolling with new friends along the river Arno and Florence's honeycomb streets day and night was a simple pleasure.
The most truly enjoyable day was spent touring the Tuscan country side with Luisa, Raffaella, Alessandro and Luigi.
As with all my travels I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time to hear stories, share confidences and relish the delights of vibrant personalities.
Our morning in San Gimignano and a shared lunch feast at Bar Dell'orso at Monteriggioni leaves me with edible and social heartfelt appreciation.
My weekend in Florence was wonderfully fulfilling and has enriched my world view.My time in Rome was hosted by Mirella, a psychologist who is taking the leap of faith to launch her private practice. In her spare time she is a devotee of contemporary art, ancient architecture and has completed a sommeliers training. I now have fond memories of a day spent in Rome with Adrianna and discovering a sleepy Rome back street ancient pizza bar. The pizza was delicious (Adelaide's Lucca style) and the setting steeped in history.
While in Rome I was fortunate to connect with a number of women through my network. Adriana (Mirella's sister and an educator), Pietra (a sustainable foodaphile from the US) and Tatjana (an Eastern European advocate who lives in the very interesting Garbatella district).