Amsterdam-Koblenz-Montreux-Florence-Rome-Castiglione di Sicilia

Our train left Amsterdam at 10 o'clock Friday morning, three days after the mayhem of the 11th of September in Lower Manhattan. We are on our way to Sicily to fulfill a wish of Mary's mother. She wanted her ashes to be thrown into the Etna. Along the way we shall visit some of the cities where she stayed at different periods of her life. The first stop is Koblenz, where we visit fort "Ehrenbreitstein" overlooking the city. It was the seat of the American high command after world war one and EHRENBREITSTEIN Mary Clarkson Allen Bagby had lived within its walls with her first husband and their two children Philip and Allen. Lieutenant Colonel Bagby had been one of the adjudants of the commander in chief Henry T. Allen. In his memoir, "The Rhineland-Journal", the general refers to his adjudant several times. He sends him on special missions to Berlin to discuss the problems caused by the excessive demands of the occupying French forces with German goverment officials. Once a dinner with the couple is mentioned. Three of their daughter Allen's six children; Mary-Allen, Daphne and Philip Macneil will join us in Rome to participate in the rest of the trip.

MONTREUX Next day by train along the Rhine via Basel to Montreux arriving there in the late afternoon for the weekend. Mary Clarkson had been sent to a school for girls in the nearby Vevey in 1913 to improve her French and to be taught proper Victorian manners. Our hotel in Montreux had known better days and from our room Lake Geneva could barely be seen, the view blocked by recent additions of office and shop buildings. The weather was cold and windy. On a heated terras along the lakeside walk, lined with palm trees, we have our evening meal. The next day we take a boat trip passing the pier at Vevey.

FLORENZ On Monday morning by train through the Alps to Milano where we stay one day as normal tourists to see the cathedral and the last supper of Leonardo da Vinci. Then on Tuesday to Florence where we stay until the end of that week in hotel David just outside the old city. Mary's mother had spent a year at a convent school with her friend Louise Bucher in 1911 and taught herself Italian by reading Dante, using a dictionary. We visit the beautiful Uffizi museum twice and wander through the city. On Friday we find the convent and take some photographs.

The next day on to Rome by train to meet the others in hotel Aventino. It is located on the same hill and only a few minutes walk from the apartment where Mary's mother lived from 1960 to 1969. We spend a long weekend getting acquainted again, inspecting the neighbourhood and visiting some of the wonders of Rome.

On Tuesday the 25th of September the five of us, with the old lady's ashes, take a morning flight to Catania and from the plane a smoking Etna is clearly visible. SICILIA At the airport we are met by the owner of the two apartments we rented for a week in Castiglione di Sicilia, a village on the North-Eastern slope of the vulcano. On Wednesday, the next day we make the trip to the top of the 3000 meter high mountain and return the ashes to the earth and dust they came from.