Any vacation – be it a road trip across state borders or overseas to a different country – yields unforgettable memories and experiences. For Ann and Frank Masiello, a trip to Italy was truly “the trip of a lifetime.”
But the Masiellos, of Shrewsbury, had long kept the idea of traveling on the back burner. Ann has lived most of her life with a chronic medical condition, making long-distance travel difficult.
So, to make their trip to Italy a reality, the couple needed a very customized trip. With the help of their AAA travel agent, the Masiellos enjoyed a private escorted tour of Italy to experience the country at a comfortable pace.
“Life doesn’t stop because of your condition,” Ann Masiello said.
The couple experienced famous Roman landmarks – such as the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel – and toured Florence, Orvieto, the Chianti region, Assisi and other breathtaking Italian locales.
“The tour guides navigated us to every place possible you could think of seeing,” Masiello said. “They did anything they could to make the trip memorable and really went above and beyond.”
But the highlight of their journey occurred in Rome, where they were accepted to sit in the front row at a Mass led by Pope Francis. That proximity, and the ceremony itself, was an emotional experience for the Masiellos.
The couple lost their son four years ago. Ann brought medallions that she had made in remembrance of her son to the ceremony and asked the Pope to bless them. Then she gave one of the medallions to Pope Francis to keep.
“The Pope was very warm and humble,” she said. “He spoke to you like you were the only one there. Now, a part of my son will always be in Italy with him.”
They have kept an album filled with more than 1,000 photos and mementos from the journey to relive their memories of Italy. And those keepsakes are proof that anyone can experience the wonders of the world.“There’s no rewind in life,” she said. “You have to keep moving forward and enjoy the gift you have.”
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