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McKinleys have Thanksgiving in Italy
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Abigail McKinley poses in front of the Roman Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, commissioned in AD 72 by Emperor Vespasian.
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Laura Beth and Kathryn McKinley stand on a balcony with the city of Florence, Italy in the background.

Can you imagine spending Thanksgiving in Italy? That’s where three of the McKinley sisters were spending the holiday – Kathryn, Laura Beth, and Abigail. 

For Thanksgiving, Kathryn and Laura Beth decided to meet up with their youngest sibling, Abigail, who’s currently spending her semester at Harding University studying abroad in Greece and Italy. According to Kathryn, they wanted to take advantage of their time off work to have a week-long European escapade.

“Having Abigail in Italy was a great excuse to kick off that adventure,” said Kathryn. “I’m always looking for a way to travel and I love to ‘travel-hack’ and find killer deals to anywhere around the world. We lucked out and found great deals to Italy.”

Since Abigail’s group was visiting Rome the weekend Kathryn and Laura Beth arrived, they reunited with her there and then again in Florence later in the week. On Thanksgiving Day, all three sisters shared a traditional Thanksgiving meal at The Villa where the Harding University students were living and studying for the semester.

“Being able to experience another country with my sisters was something so special to me since I wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving this year,” said Abigail. “They brought a little piece of home to me in Italy.”

Added Laura Beth, “The staff of Harding University in Florence provided an amazing meal, including baking a 35-pound turkey for all the students and visiting families to enjoy.”  

 “It was a great break from pasta and pizza,” joked Kathryn. “Who would have thought we would have gotten tired of pasta and pizza when in Italy.” 

When asked if she was upset to have three of her girls missing for the holiday, mom Lynette replied “absolutely not” without hesitation.

“Our family motto is ‘and we’re off on another adventure’ and Jeff and I have always raised our children to be independent and embrace each experience,” said Lynette. “Caroline is in PT school or she would have joined them, but this time next year, she’ll be in Zambia.”

The McKinley sisters all encourage everyone to travel abroad, explaining you can find great deals and travel on a budget.

“Travel shows you the good in the world and opens your eyes and heart to people who are different than you,” said Kathryn. “It’s important to realize the majority of people are good and so eager to show you their way of life and to be open to learn from these interactions and experiences.”

As for specific recommendations in Italy, each sister shared her own. Here are their suggestions for must-do activities and must-see spots: 

Explore Florence – It is not as touristy as other places. In Florence, you need to see the Uffizi Museum. It has so many famous paintings and the building just has so much history. Climbing up the 400 steps of the Duomo gives you another perspective of Florence. – Abigail

Visit Rome – You need to see the Colosseum and some of the Roman ruins.  The history behind the city is so interesting and it amazes me how old some of these landmarks are! My favorite restaurant we went to in Rome was Ristorante Maccheroni. The kitchen is in the middle of the dining area so you can see them making the pasta right there. – Laura Beth

Take a tour for popular places in Italy – You can wear yourself out trying to plan all of the sites by yourself. Take advantage of the experts in those cities by booking tours. We did a “Rome in a Day” and “Walks of Florence” through Walks of Italy company recommended by travel guru Rick Steves.  – Kathryn