“I noticed on your list that you are interested in coming to Cairns. Would you like to exchange your home with me?” Apparently, it may seem a simple question to those of us who are Home Exchange veterans. In reality, this distracted question launched through the Internet has turned into an incredible chain of unimaginable events, the effects of which are still ongoing.
It’s August 10th, 2013 and this question leaves from a computer in Cairns (Australia) at 6:36 pm destination Italy. The recipient reads it straightaway and sends back the answer. Surprisingly enough, 10 minutes later the two people involved in the correspondence meet up in person at the Trinity Resort in Cairns. This first encounter triggers a series of countless adventures that no human mind could ever dream of realizing because of a simple question. Let’s list out them in order:
(2013) tour in Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, Christmas with the Italian family in Viterbo (Italy), New Year’s Eve in Lucca, cooking class in Lucca, tour in Viareggio, Florence, Orvieto and Rome;
(2015) a week in Rome between seminars and amusements;
(2018) trip to Veneto with departure from Vicenza, then Marostica, Asolo, Castelfranco Veneto, Treviso and the amazing Prosecco tour through the enchanting vineyards and rolling hills in Conegliano Veneto.
But, who are the two people involved in this incredible connection? Who asked the question? Who answered? But above all, how is it possible that they met after a few minutes?

Two women and the Law of Attraction

I am in Cairns, and after my wonderful time spent in Sydney, I am using my laptop to plan my next experience to the Great Barrier Reef, when an alert pops up on my screen: a message from Debra.
” I noticed on your list that you are interested in coming to Cairns. Would you like to exchange your home with me?”. Debra, a beautiful American woman, in her fifties, chiropractic, for many years living in Cairns, dreams to come to my country. Searching on Home Exchange for people interested in going to Cairns, she comes across my profile and decides to send me “The Question”.
I immediately read the message and I get goosebumps.
OMG! What is the universe complotting? A smile arises on my face and, following the magic flow, I instantly answer: “Debra, I am already here! Why don’t we meet up? Come to my resort”.
Just the time to set up a conversation via Skype to get to know each other in a video chat, the time for Debra to drive to my place, and we meet in person. We are standing in front of each other, still incredulous but thrilled and enthusiastic: “Please to meet you!”. We hug!

A bridge between Australia and Italy

What a question! Not a simple phrase, but a row of words that in an imaginary fantasy becomes a bridge between Australia and Italy. We meet on the Internet by chance, but somehow we feel early that we were destined to meet.

Debra drives me to Port Douglas to buy stuff at the outdoor market, we eat fish at her house enjoying the stunning ocean view from the porch, she gives me a chiropractic session in her studio. We laugh, laugh and laugh.

Beautiful beaches, lush tropical forests, marvelous tea plantations, jumping kangaroos, tender koalas and the joy of diving into the pristine water of the Great Barrier Reef. But day by day my magical time in Cairns with Debra is running over.
“Debra please, come to Italy!”
Four months later I am at Fiumicino international airport waiting for Debra. It’s 5 pm on Christmas Eve. The plane has landed and all the passengers are passing through the sliding door which leads to the arrival terminal. I am staring at the door that keeps opening and closing: people coming, people waving, hugs, kisses. Time goes by, there are no more people from that flight. “Debra, where are you?”. I get back home. Alone.

I missed the Christmas dinner

Debra was still happily flying, while I was desperate because I had the feeling that something bad had happened to her. There was no way to contact her, and that night I went to bed really upset. I was sleeping when Debra landed at Dubai airport to catch the connecting flight to Rome. “Merry Christmas! Said the pilot, greeting all the passengers”.
“What? What day is today? Is it really December, 25th?” Debra replied. “OMG!!! I missed the Christmas Eve dinner!!!”.
She had confused the date of her arrival and sent me a text telling that she would arrive in Rome at noon.
On Christmas day I go again to Fiumicino airport with the intention of strangling her. But as soon as I meet her, after a first attempt to ask for explanations, she smiles at me so intensely and happily that I forget everything, surrending. “Welcome to Italy, my dear friend!!!”.

Why did I wait so long to come to Italy?

Debra’s luggage is heavy. Twelve gifts for me and my whole family make me think for a moment that she could actually be Saint Cloud. Then I give up on the idea because Saint Cloud is supposed to be a man!
Viterbo is only her first stage, then together we head towards Orvieto, Assisi, Rome, Lucca, Viareggio and Florence. How much art, how much beauty and how many “presepi”. She sees nativity scenes in any church, square, bar, restaurant and in any corner she happens to wander. “Presepi!!!” she shouts each time and we bust out laughing

Cooking Class Lucca with Chef Paolo Monti

In Lucca we celebrate the New Year Eve and on the New Year Day we get up early to attend the special cooking class that on this day the Chef Paolo Montihttps://www.cucina-italiana.com/ is giving just for us. Fettuccine, tagliolini, pizza, ragù, sugo ai funghi, brodo… (noodles, meat souce, mushroom souce, soup…). In a couple of hours, the table is set with a bunch of colorful meals that we have prepared and that we do not fail to eat, completely. No doggy. Poor dog!
For Debra it is her first time in Italy and while we are rambling together through the narrow streets of Orvieto, she says to me in a state of wonder: “Oh, Italy is so beautiful! Why did I wait so long to come here?” I feel so emotioned to hear that, that I secretly wipe away a tear.

Italy again!

Giulia, guess what! I am coming to Rome to attend some seminars. Why don’t you join me? Two years after the launch of her first question, Debra comes up with another question. And a few days later I am ready to pack my suitcase to jump into another adventure with her. October 2015, we are staying in Via Nazionale, in the heart of the “Città Eterna” (Eternal city).
Debra doesn’t like walking, that’s why she prefers sometimes to stop a taxi to get around. Or rather, get stuck in the traffic jam, which still seems to enjoy enough. At least, we don’t have sore feet!


Without listing the number of things we are doing in Rome, it is still impossible not to mention the Pakistan restaurant. Even if I do love Pakistan cuisine, that restaurant was the worst restaurant in our life. But, how many laughs! And Tartufi Friends in via Borgognone, the best ever (Euro 70,00 for a dish of Pasta with white truffle). Oh god!
But Debra also wants “Torroni” (typical Italian sweets that you can find only during the Christmas period). She orders them in a bakery, a beautiful shop well stocked with mountains of delicious cakes, biscuits, and bread. After a moment of astonishment, the baker agrees to prepare special Christmas torroni just for her. Awesome!
Every morning at six o’clock, Debra lives her creative moment. She is writing a book “Fountains of Youth”. I enjoy having an exclusive preview reading the first chapters. But the clock is ticking away, and we are arriving at the end of this adventure too.
Piazza della Repubblica, we hug and greet each other, and while I am heading to Termini train station, I hear her voice behind me saying aloud: “Ti amo!!!”.
I turn towards her, I am really amused. Debra is learning Italian, she is a good student, but I’ll have to explain her the difference between the two expressions we have in our language to say “I love you”: “Ti voglio bene” to express affection to relatives and friends, and “Ti amo” to express a strong feeling of love towards our love partner.
I can’t help smiling and happy, I shout her back: “I love you too Debra”.

The wonder of Veneto

Messenger 2018 July, 29th 06:16 Hi, guess who has a seminar in Venice Italy? Moi. Any chance you can meet up with me, please! Debra
Oh, yes Debra!!! Let’s start another adventure.
Debra’s question creates magic again and after two months spent planning our trip, on October, 28th I am on a train to Vicenza. A week to explore the Veneto region and, of course, to have fun as ever! Vicenza, what an enchanting city!

Olympic Theater Vicenza

The Olympic Theater, the Palladio’s villas, the Basilica Palladiana, how many wonders! We rent a car with a driver and feel like two princesses being escorted everywhere. The driver follows the planned route to discover the enchanting walled towns on our way to Treviso and he opens our door anytime we have to get out. This gesture is so charming that we soon forget that he gets paid to do that. Marostica, Asolo, Castelfranco Veneto, and Treviso. Sun, delicious food, wine and a deep sense of happiness and gratitude towards life, which is giving us the amazing gift of being together again.

The Prosecco tour with Yellowboot is our last stage. One day to get lost in the magnificent scenery of the green vineyards: infinite gardens that cover the rolling hills scattered on the horizon.

Tasting different types of Prosecco (superior, dry, extra-dry) we discover the history of these lands, the composition of the soil and the origins of this wine.
Debra can’t help to buy several bottles of wine, while I wonder how she can take them to Australia. The same question will be raised by the airport security officer, who in fact will sequester them. Salute amico! Cheers!

Opposite life situations

Debra and I often have video chat sessions that the time zone and the upsidedown seasons make sometimes bizarre. I mean, it can happen I am in bed with my hair in a mess and my face pretty ugly on the screen, while she is up, in her beautiful shape, playing with her cute dog Lala. Or, I am at home wrapped in my blanket with a hot cup of tea in my hands to warm up my bones, while she is lying down on the private beach of her front ocean villa, sunbathing. Sometimes she texts me while I am at work, while she is in a pleasant relax because has finished all her daily commitments. That’s absolutely unfair!

Do magic!

Italy and Australia, if you take a globe and put your index fingers on these two countries, you can better perceive the distance and you might wonder how it is possible to cultivate such a wonderful friendship between two people who live in the opposite side of the world and make it stronger and stronger. You might ask yourself, how it is possible to meet a person by chance and obtain through her a life enriched by so many amazing experiences. You could say to yourself that it is something unusual, that it will never happen to you. But this is not a novel! This is the true story of two women who created magic and who want to tell you that you must trust the infinite “human connections” that life wants to give you. Friendship is a gift and very often it manifests to us, but we are too absent-minded to recognize it, to catch it. And this is a waste. It’s a shame…

Please, dear reader, keep your mind and your heart open and set your spirit on the frequency of human connections and you will see that extraordinary friendships are already orbiting the sphere of your life. Don’t be shy and catch them! Do magic!

Debra and I will keep you posted because our story is far from done and the best is YET TO COME!

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  1. Absolutely beautifully written and thankfully you can remember the names of all those places because I cannot!!! Ti Amo : ) I know I know! I got it wrong again…. Where to next? Watch this space!

  2. A very emotional experience, friendship is something special and if you really find a friend you can understand what whappiness means!!

  3. Great job Giulia! And a great start with telling the adventures with Debra! Makes me want to meet her…. Say hi. Love Rita

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