Knox eventually set her mind on studying abroad in college. She rejected soccer scholarships from several schools because she knew she would have to commit to the sports program.
Instead, she set her sights on a long shot: the highly competitive University of Washington. She got in and made a positive first impression on practically everyone she met, says friend Andrew Seliber, who testified at her trial as a character witness.
"I think it was her just open personality to, you know, see the good things in people and have always a positive attitude about everybody and everything in the world. And it was really refreshing coming to school and meeting people like that, especially like her, who were, you know, so willing to see everybody's perspectives about, you know, anything."
She considered Germany, Austria and Scotland, her mother says, before deciding on Italy, a place she'd never been and where the people spoke a language she hadn't studied.
"She wanted to try something different," Mellas says. "Once she decided on Italy, she thought about going to the really typical places: Florence or Rome. But she really thought that to her seemed more touristy. And she wanted just everyday, small-town, regular Italians and not where there would be hundreds of English-speaking people. She wanted to immerse herself in a smaller town, and she looked around and Perugia had a program."
Finally, the time arrived for her to begin her adventure in August 2007.
She and her sister went to Europe to visit relatives before catching a train to Perugia. From the start, it was an adventure, her sister says.
"The city was really beautiful. You could really tell on Amanda's face and how she was acting that she was instantly in love," Deanna said.
After school began, Knox sent enthusiastic e-mails to her family nearly every day. She described attending a chocolate festival and a book fair with Kercher.
A few weeks into her stay, she wrote in various e-mails that she had met a handsome computer engineering student who looked like Harry Potter at a classical music concert.
Knox had been a "late bloomer" in terms of dating, so news that she had met Raffaele Sollecito made her sister happy.
"She was just infatuated with the whole idea of him. First of all, he was a foreign guy, he was sweet, he was really kind, he was smart. ... He was exactly my sister's type." Deanna Knox said. "It was pretty exciting. I wanted to learn more about him, and it just happened that they were only dating for two weeks before everything happened. I wish -- I really wish that they could've gotten to know each other a lot better."
Sollecito, in an epilogue to his memoir, said he had been to visit Knox in Seattle after their acquittal but was nervous to see her, wondering if after going through so much, "perhaps we owed it to each other to live our lives and leave each other in peace."
It's not yet clear whether both will have to appear in court, side-by-side once more, for the retrial expected early next year.
But the judges' ruling is definitely not the end of the story that the two students or their families wanted.