My 50th Birthday Gift – A Singles European Cruise – Featuring Hidden Treasures of Italy

By:  Judy McMurtry

January 10, 2021

As I reflect on past travels, I reminisce about my special trip on Norwegian Epic cruise ship to Western Mediterranean. It was a 7-night cruise that started and ended in Barcelona with stops in Naples/Rome (Civitavecchia)/Florence & Pisa (Livorno)/Cannes/Palma, Majorca. Of the three countries that I visited my favorite was Italy. I enjoy taking cruises because it allows me the opportunity to visit many places to determine which ones, I like the best, and this trip was my dream vacation that I planned my entire life. I’ve had fantasies of traveling to France, Spain, and especially Italy. I loved Italy the best and look forward to visiting this exciting country for more than a couple of days in the near future. My favorite city was Rome, in addition to the cruise experience which also included culture, friendly people and lots of fun was something that one could not forget. A great deal of preparation went into the trip such as, making arrangements for the necessary travel documents and studying the culture, historical sites and the history of each country, so that I can truly have an experience and not just enjoyment.

                        The travel experience in Europe was wonderful. It was educational as well as a culture awareness learning experience. The country with the most culture experience was Rome Italy, because out of the three countries it was the one that retained most of its old charm and heritage. It was still the authentic version of itself; Italy remained the same image with a few small changes over the years. I learned from my studies that in 1700s the modern pizza was birth in Naples, Italy. I had an opportunity to enjoy a couple of slices of the famous Margherita pizza, which was named after Queen Margherita. The Queen requested her favorite pizza maker in Naples, whose name was Rafaelle Esposito to create 3 different types of pizza. The Queen selected the pizza that was made with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and a spring of basil. I indulged in a Margherita pizza at a family-owned café, sitting outside enjoying the beautiful setting and the flavor that burst with all natural home-grown ingredients.

The friendliness of the people and the taste of the food. Everyone in the restaurants were so laid back and relaxed, no rushing, but simply taking their time eating and enjoying the company of whom they were dining. The staff were very friendly and they understood the art of customer service. The next stop on my journey was Rome Italy, this was a dream come true. I was only in Rome for one day and it was not enough. I decided to purchase a tour bus trip ticket to maximize my stay in Rome, because there were so many sites that I wanted to see. The bus tour allowed me the opportunity to hop on and off the bus at all the tourist locations I wanted to visit. The bus stopped at great tourist sites like the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Pantheon to name only a very few. I took lots of pictures and just wanted to be in the presence of greatness. It was a wonderful, but short tour of one of my favorite cities.

I decided to do a little shopping in Rome, because I heard about the great leather made for clothing and shoes in Italy. I found a great shop that sold beautiful shoes and another shop sold leather jackets, so I purchased a cute pair of sandals and a leather jacket.

Leather shops – Saddlers Union the best Italian leather stores in Rome.

One experience in Rome will always stand out, Gelateria | Caruso and I went to a nice café in Rome. It was located on a quiet street, with very little to see around it. The tourist bureau recommended it to me, because I asked for a nice quiet café that served gelato. The café served freshly made gelato of many different flavors; the ladies only spoke Italian and it was quite remarkable to communicate with them, however I managed. It was a great experience; the shop had an old time feel to it and the recipes were probably past down from generation to generation. This was the last stop before my time was up in Italy, was to locate the best ice parlor for the famous gelato. I was very excited to have discovered a beautiful place called Gelateria | Caruso that served the best gelato that I have ever tasted in my life. I enjoyed the pistachio and it opened up my taste buds to new levels. I have not been able to find anything like the gelato at Gelateria | Caruso and I have tried.

My trip to Italy was over 8 years ago and I remember it as if it was only yesterday. I will hopefully return soon to Italy and I plan to stay at least 14 days to really enjoy this beautiful country; especially, Rome. I would encourage you to one day travel to this wonderful place and I promise you will not leave there the same.

Author Judy McMurtry BIO:

For 33 years, I was the person behind the scenes of successful businesses making it all happen. Driven by my passion for leadership development, I had a successful and diverse leadership team. My name is Judy McMurtry, and during those years, I thought I had it all. Maybe you’ve been there too. 6 years ago I realized that I was stuck and wanted more than just a career in someone else’s corporation. That’s when I decided to retire from the corporate world and start a new chapter in my life. On this journey I’ve been trained and mentored by world-class leaders. I am equipped with the tools, resources and experience to help any team improve productivity, performance and profitability. Now instead of leading successful teams myself, I help leaders find success through their teams and grow organizations, from the outside-in. If you’re looking for a team transformation, email me at and I’d love to sit down for a free exploration for together we can transform your team.

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

3 thoughts on “My 50th Birthday Gift – A Singles European Cruise – Featuring Hidden Treasures of Italy

  1. Such an amazing read. Didn’t know about the queen and her desire for pizza that’s a great fun fact.

    I experienced Rome and hope to travel back to visit Amalfi coast.

    I pray one day soon you visit again for your 14 day trip.


  2. Loved reading about your travel adventure. Italy is also one of my most favorite destinations in the world that I look forward to visit again after the pandemic is behind us! Next time include the beautiful isle of Capri! I think I can say that we definitely share the love of travel and adventure!


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