A journey down the spine of Italy, from Milan to Naples, taken 60 years after my mother as a young girl did the very same route.
I had found a book, hidden away since 1956. A book written by great-grandfather.
It was my great-grandfather who had taken my 12 year old mother and 11 year old aunt on their Italian adventure. In the book he wrote of all their experiences on their tour, the people they met, the sights they saw.
As I read, I realised I had to follow in their footsteps.
So I find myself, waiting for the bus at Milan Centrale, and wondering just what changes I would see find in my own tour down the great Christmas stocking country, from north to south.
Following great swathes of the old Orient Express route on sleeper trains, a hint of murder and romance in the air. Stop-overs in the grand European cities of Empires’ past.
Or on rural trains through fields and plains in those mysterious regions between the Vienna Woods and the Black Sea.
A long detour round the back of Europe.
A new world opens up for Kemp after he meets his travelling Passepartout – a bored, searching, pretty Greek teacher in a suburban English boarding school for the summer, longing to get away and explore.
Passports in hand, they make a dash for it together…