Judy’s lifelong goal has been to visit Italy and take a gondola ride in Venice. In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo invasive surgeries and toxic chemotherapy. Judy and her sister Janet took their long-awaited trip to commemorate Judy’s fifth cancer-free anniversary. The sisters came from Ohio, USA, to join us on our tour of the Great Cities of Italy.
I always wanted to visit Venice, Italy, and take a Gondola ride over the canals. It was time to rejoice after I beat breast cancer and subsequent surgeries and chemotherapy and lived for another five years. So, my sis and I called CodedHits and started arranging our trip. My expectations for the trip were far surpassed by the reality of the experience. I appreciate Lydia and the rest of the team for helping me realize my ambition. I’ve made it 12 years without dying and am finally eager to see the world. CodedHits, you guys are fantastic, and God bless you, according to Judy’s submission for the CodedHits Unlocked Awards.
We contacted Judy to inquire about her fantastic vacation to Italy, why it was so meaningful to travel with her sister and her future plans.
Why you and your sister decided to take your ideal vacation in Italy?
My wish list has always included a trip to Venice, where I hope to ride a gondola. Nonetheless, in 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which abruptly ended my hopes and ambitions. I underwent two operations and several months of chemotherapy of varying types. I was warned that if my particular form of cancer returned, it would typically do so within five years. Those past five years were among the most stressful I’ve ever experienced. Through it all, my sister Janet was right there at my side. She was present for all my medical procedures, including my visits, surgeries, and chemo injections. I made it to 2015 by the grace of God, which marks five years since there has been any indication that cancer will return. It was time to rejoice in our success.
With Janet, I began fantasizing about and preparing for the trip of a lifetime. Our first stop in Italy was also essential because it allowed me to realize one of my lifelong goals of visiting Venice and experiencing life on a gondola. Rome and the Vatican were also on our list of places to see. After researching CodedHits’s many trips, we took the Great Italian Cities vacation.
I cannot express how wonderful our tour guide, Lydia was. She went out of her way to accommodate all of our requirements. Janet was experiencing a great deal of discomfort in her foot, making it difficult for her to walk. Lydia arranged various modes of transportation to get Janet to the destination our group would reach at the end of our treks. We had no idea at the time that Janet had broken a bone in her foot; she didn’t realize it till we got back to Ohio (it’s no wonder she was in so much pain), but we didn’t find out until then.
What are your Great Italian Cities vacation highlights?
Rome & Vatican City
This Italy vacation gave me many lovely memories. Vatican City was important for Christians. The Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s ceiling were breathtaking. The tomb of St. Peter was my favorite part. I was really emotional. Visiting St. Peter’s grave after visiting his city. My sister and I saw “Peter in Chains Basilica” in our free time. Peter’s shackles are here.
We toured the Colosseum next. Next, we threw one coin into the Trevi Fountain, guaranteeing your return to Rome. Then they sat on the Spanish Steps and snapped pictures.
Janet and I returned to Vatican City on Sunday to hear Pope Francis. I was surprised we could participate in this event. St. Paul’s Basilica was next. We visited Paul’s tomb and chains. I was overwhelmed again by being there.
Florence, Pisa, and Assisi
We traveled to Assisi by bus to see St. Francis Basilica the following day. The next stop is Florence. We were able to see Michelangelo’s David statue made of marble. We took advantage of the time provided to buy some gold jewelry.
Our bus made stops in Bologna, San Gimignano, and Pisa. We had plenty of time to spend in Pisa. We have a unique connection to the Cathedral because Janet’s kids have Pisano’s last names and are descended from Pisa. One of their great-greats carved the pulpit in the cathedral. I am trying to remember how many greats. While in Pisa, we frequently encountered the name, Pisano.
Gelato was one of the things my sister and I couldn’t resist. Everywhere we went in Italy, there appeared to be a plethora of gelato stores, and of course, we had to sample a new flavor at each one. I actually forgot how many scoops we had. We also did a lot of souvenir shopping, to the point where Lydia discovered a post office, and we shipped some boxes home.
Why was this trip to Italy with your sister so vital to you?
Traveling with my sister and enjoying this trip was extra wonderful because we were celebrating my five-year breast cancer survivor. She remained with me for hours after surgery and many hours of treatment, and when I became exhausted from the chemo, she came to my house to aid me. There was no one else I would have wanted to go on this vacation with save her. We were both having a party.
I’d also like to emphasize how fabulous our tour guide was. Lydia went above and beyond for us numerous times. Lydia, thank you.
Where would you most like to travel next?
The next item on my bucket list is to travel to Turkey and Greece and retrace some of Apostle Paul’s steps as he spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following that, I would like to tour Ireland.
If you enter our CodedHits Unlocked Awards, you can win two spots on our Balkan Delight tour. Who would you choose if you were the victor?
I’ve never been to the Balkans, but the region’s rich biblical history would help me cross more items off my bucket list. My first option for a travel companion would be my sister, Janet. We’ve traveled together frequently, both independently and with our families. We travel exceptionally well together and share similar preferences. We both appreciate discovering new locations and trying fresh foods, particularly gelato.
Thank you for sharing your touching story, Judy.