Fabia

She lives with her German shepherd just outside Milan. A retired travel journalist, her home had many interesting artefacts from all over the world, with a study on the top floor. She vacated her house for two weeks so we could explore the nearby lakes, and experience the romance of living in a 1000-year-old tower.

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Sabina

Sabina’s Roman apartment was our home one July. We met lively Sabina, charming Alessio, and little Leda one evening near the Pantheon, and chatted in Italian and English. I enjoyed the practice. But she was horrified to find how much I had paid for Italian lessons; she would have done it for half the price!

Friends-Not-Yet-Met

On A Separate Life, I have a still-to-be-completed series written on bloggers I know, though we’ve never met in person. Since 2006, through their blogs and mine, laughing and crying, I’ve grown to love these people who give support, encouragement, and love online, forever honoured that they share their lives, good and bad, with me.

Elaine and David

We shared a jeep together at Ulusaba, watching as lions fought over a carcass, thrilling at an epic journey chasing wild dogs. We liked them immediately – no kids, easy to talk to, fun, kind. Technology kept us communicating, and they visited us here. We’ll meet again, I’m sure; maybe England, but preferably South Africa again.

Florentina

Meeting internet friends means putting a face to a name. Disconcertingly, we often have to replace the familiar pseudonym with the real name. I met Florentina this year; we had read each other’s words for years, even after our paths had diverged. We got to hear each others’ accents, see our smiles. What a treat.

Matej

He welcomed these strangers from the other end of the world. We learned about how the revolutionary days had affected him, and he gave us wonderful advice on scenic driving routes. Now, from afar, we are able to admire his intricate and creative work online, and one day hope to stay in his new house.

Jasmina

We had met online, talked about our deepest hurts and feelings, so it was inevitable we would meet when I was staying only a few hours away. We chatted like old friends as we ate lunch in her apartment, and walked the streets of her town. I regret the limited time, and vow to return.