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Around the World: kc in Italy (Part II)

Lots of news this week!

First, newsletter subscribers Kim Burton and Ingrid Roeske have both won copies of guest poster Tony Ollivier's debut novel THE AMSTERDAM DECEPTION. Congratulations! The books are winging their way to you this week. Happy reading! And for those of you who didn't win this month, click on the title and you can order a copy of Tony's book for yourself!

The feature interview for the June newsletter is with none other than the Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer. I'm SO excited for Rob's new book, and newsletter subscribers are going to get a crack at two copies I am giving away! Have you subscribed yet? The link to do just that is at the bottom of this very page. Along with lots of book talk, quarentine recommendations and the interview with Rob, I can promise you a chance at some of the new swag that's coming for my new novel, EIGHTY DAYS TO ELSEWHERE, due out this summer. More on that soon.

In the meantime, as a way to add a little cheer in these stay-at-home times, I've been sharing some pictures of the beautiful and remarkable places I've seen in my travels.

Take a look here to revisit virtual journeys to: Iceland, Orkney, Wales, Niagara Falls, London, Seoul, Milano, and Tokyo. And today, harking back to a post in April [which, honestly, seems like the Dark Ages, doesn't it?] I promised we'd head back for another glimpse of Italy. [Check out Part One here.]

I had the MOST amazing visit to Italy last year, and I was planning to spend a good chunk of the springtime this year returning there, along with a voyage on to Greece, as research for my next book, AN ACCIDENTAL ODYSSEY, coming next year. Alas... the plague has put an end to my plans. Instead of moping -- and come on, which of us hasn't wanted a good mope lately? -- I'm going to take a peek at the beauties of this amazing country. Join me?

Travelling through Italy gives the visitor the feeling that this country has been its wonderful boot-shaped self, dipping a delicate toe into the Mediterranean -- well, forever. Rome in particular, with its breathtaking Colesseum, has been home to humanity for way more than two millennia, and is a testament to this country's long history. But the truth is, the nation of Italy has a much shorter timeline. Italy as we know it today was only unified the same decade as Canada [1861, to be precise], and not joined into a fully-formed republic until after the Second World War in 1946.

My route through Italy last year involved a lot of zig-zagging for research purposes, but today, let's start in the north and head south, shall we?

Monto Bianco -- the Italian side of the behemoth known in France as Mont Blanc -- towers over the tiny town of Courmayeur, which is where I took my first footsteps into the country. The trains in Italy are fast and generally timely, and this picture was taken as I hurtled away from Monto Bianco, through the foothills of the Italian Alps, and on my way to Milano.

While I have been to Italy before -- a long time ago -- I have never been to Rome.

And once I got there? I wanted to never leave. Rome is an amazing, chaotic, gorgeously historic city, with far more to see and do than can be managed in a single visit. Nevertheless, I gave it my best!

Perhaps you can tell from the crumpled state of this map, but my dash across Rome was completed on foot, in a July heatwave, and still ended up being one of the most memorable visits of my travelling life.

This gentleman's expression notwithstanding, I had the most fun ever, running through the streets, getting lost a dozen times, visiting the Parthenon, the Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps and that remarkable testament to just how much gold and artwork can be crammed into half a square kilometre, that city within a city -- the Vatican. [I don't know if this happens year-round, but in July, they have a whole segment of their staff devoted simply to assisting those travellers who faint from the heat.]

As a wimpy westcoast Canadian, I don't generally, as they say, do heat, but I'd just spent a week in pre-monsoon India, so had built up some immunity, I guess.

I thought this shot of the dome of St. Peter's, taken from inside the Vatican, was impressive, until I got inside, and saw...this.

Teeny people left in at the bottom to give a little sense of scale. And please note the heavenly beams of light, streaming in from on high.

Words tend to lose all meaning under these circumstances, yes? I will reiterate, then, only that I had the most wonderful time, and would return in a heartbeat.

After another memorable train journey, my last stop in Italy was all the way down in the heel of the boot, where I travelled to Brindisi. This ancient seaport, found at the end of the Appian Way, is a testament to the Italian ability to blend old and new with incredible charm.

I took this shot in the marina where brilliantly painted rowboats nestled alongside speedboats, fishing vessels and one very large specimen from the Italian naval fleet. The waterfront was so beautiful; the promenade flowing from ancient Roman roads lined with palm trees and topped with a gorgeous view of the harbour.

This seafarer's monument guards the harbour, providing a beacon at night, as well as a memory of all the seafarers lost during the war. A beautiful farewell from a brilliant country.

As I send a final salute to Italy, a quick reminder to sign up for my newsletter, via the link on the page below. The next issue is arriving THIS week, and if you sign up now, you'll have a shot at winning a copy of featured writer Robert J. Sawyer's latest book THE OPPENHEIMER ALTERNATIVE, which is launching tomorrow!

Do you have a dream vacation spot? I'd love to hear your thoughts on Italy or on wherever you plan to visit in that far-away time when travel becomes possible once again. Let me know the place you're dreaming of in the comment section below.

More soon...



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