The Best Italy trip: Celebrating a Kidney

I created this blog to share my adventures in Italy.  From being a spectator during Siena’s Palio to hiking the magnificent Dolomites, and hitting a few wine regions in between, I’ve tried to be more than a visitor, to blend in with the locals and have conversations about subjects other than “Where are you from?” and food. (Not that there’s anything wrong with conversations about food. Part of the experience of Italy is the food, and it’s one of my favorite parts. But I digress.)

One of my favorite trips, one that I look back on now with a nostalgia-filled heart and sentiment, was 15 years ago when my mom and I went as a celebration of her successful kidney transplant.

Fifteen years ago today – March 25, 2003 – I gave my mom one of my kidneys.  We went to Italy seven months later.

It was a wonderful trip. Mom’s brother, Uncle Charlie, was already in Cortona, the town in Tuscany many know from Frances Mayes’ bestseller “Under the Tuscan Sun.” We met him there and spent three days touring the beautiful countryside, stopping in Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Lucignano.

Montepulciano
Mom and I in Piazza Grande in front of the Municipal building in Montepulciano.

These are all hill towns, and they’ve got that moniker for good reason. For the first time in a long time, Mom was able to walk, ascend the steep streets and take the steps without any kind of medical instrument protruding from her body for dialysis. She and Uncle Charlie were so energized one day that they both walked up the main street in Montepulciano without stopping to rest. That was victory. That was success.

Mom and I then took the train to Bologna, where I had lived for 18 months in 1996-97 on a Rotary International Scholarship.  The celebration continued there, highlighted by a dinner with 20 friends at an agriturismo. The food (of course!) was outstanding as was the company.

Bologna
Taking a coffee break in the center of Bologna. I’m sure those bags were full of bread, cheeses and probably prosciutto.

Then we made it to our last destination, Milano, where we were hosted by Angilella cousins. Highlights were touring the Duomo, drinking Prosecco at a fancy bar on Via Montenapoleone and seeing the newly-restored “The Last Supper.”

Milano
Checking the guide book about the history of a church with Angilella cousins and their friend who came along to help.

We made a point of marking the kidney anniversary every March. If I weren’t home, I held a celebration of champagne and cheesecake in my office at Newsweek and put Mom on speaker so she could partake. Those were some fun celebrations!

I lost my mom seven years ago but I still celebrate Kidney Day. And so here I am, 15 years after the transplant, raising a glass of Prosecco and eating a slice of cheesecake to commemorate that day and to salute donors and recipients everywhere.  Cheers! Cin cin! Salute‘!

More on the kidney transplant:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/organ-donor_b_1659743.html

More on Mom, Me and our love of Italy:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mom-me-and-our-love-of-italy_b_3099796.html

 

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