Rome If You Want To!

It had been a lifelong dream of GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Alicia Leigh Willis (Courtney) to see Italy for the first time with her mother, Leigh… and she recently made that dream come true! “It was the perfect mother/daughter trip,” says Willis, who visited Rome, Florence, Lake Como and Tuscany. “It’s such an amazing place. Everything about it – the art, the architecture – it’s all so magical.”

The Willis women took the country by storm, traveling from one picturesque site to another by train. “It was pretty hilarious watching my mom and I carrying our suitcases,” says the junior Willis. “Of course, we packed way too much stuff. We were carrying these big bags trying to get them on and off the train. Oh Lord, it was a mess!” Aside from bringing more clothes than they’d need for a month, they had to make room for some of that famous Italian shopping! “We had to buy a suitcase to pack all the wine we brought back. Every little town we went to in Tuscany, we bought a bottle of wine. We brought them back for presents for everybody.”

The shopping, the history, the museums, the mother/daughter time alone – it was an unforgettable experience for both. “We’d be standing in the Sistine Chapel or staring at The David, and thinking, ‘Oh my God! Am I really here right now?’ It’s something we’ll always remember.”

Willis and her mom, Leigh, didn’t overlook the fabulous shopping that Italy is know for: “I had just bought some Prada bags,” Willis says, flashing her over worked credit card. “We had a little saying about my American Express card: ‘Don’t leave Rome without it!'”

“This is in our hotel over looking Lake Como,” says Willis. “We had a beautiful view. It was gorgeous. We knew we were going to be exhausted from all the tours, so we wanted to spend a day and a half somewhere it was relaxing. And this was definitely it.”

“We were leaving that day, but we woke up extra early to go to the Pitti Palace,” Willis says. “The palace is just amazing, but the Boboli Gardens there are amazing, too! It’s like a maze. You feel like you’re in Alice In Wonderland.”

“In Florence, there were street performers everywhere,” says Willis. “The woman in red… isn’t that crazy? That was our last night in Florence. The big white one is eating my ice-cream cone out of my hand! The funniest thing is that my mom dropped her ice-cream cone in the middle of the street trying to take this picture.”

“This is my mom, Leigh, and our friend, Dawn, who used to like down the street from,” says Willis. “she decided to buy land in Tuscany and is going to start growing olive trees. She’s brave, I’ll give her that! The town in the back ground is where she lives. Everything is interesting – the people, the little shops. You want to take a picture of every thing you see.”

“I’m not much of a tour person at all. But it’s good that we did it because we saw the Sistine Chapel,” Willis says of her afternoon in Vatican City. “The detail and the story behind it is incredible. I never realized that the church had covered the nudity. It’s kind of sad, in a way, but through all the restorations, you can see some of the original work. It was amazing just being there.”

“Of everything we saw, the coliseum was that most impressive to me,” says Willis. “It was just incredible. I learned things about the coliseum that I never, ever knew. I didn’t realize that it all used to be marble.”

“Dawn took us to this town called Civita di Bagnoregio,” says Willis. “There’s a bridge that takes 20 minutes to walk across that goes over to this huge hillside with a little town on top of it. There are only 18 people that live there permanently. We were sitting in this tiny restaurant overlooking vineyards and having wine and bruschetta and laughing and talking. I was like, ‘This is what you think Italy is!'”

© ABC Soaps In Depth – Rosemary A. Rossi