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12.24.2014

Christmas in Rome

Christmas in Rome

Christmas in Rome

It is Christmas eve. My boy is home from college. Love Actually is queued up on the television and French onion soup is on the stove. Things will be a little quiet here on the blog while I enjoy this cozy time of year with my family and friends. 

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays from Rome.

12.19.2014

Shopping in Rome {Biola}

Shopping in Rome

Shopping in Rome

A few years ago before we moved from Balduina to Monti, before we were even friends, my now good pal Elizabeth organized an event for the Friends of the American Academy in Italy. There was a screening of the film Food Inc. and after the film there was a panel discussion with three farmers who spoke about small holder farming practices in Italy and how to shop in markets in Rome to make sure you were getting locally produced food. I had recently arrived from many years of living in Africa. I was bewitched by Rome's shiny supermarkets and the orderly, anonymous, fixed price shopping I could accomplish in one easy stop. That one afternoon of film, conversation and food changed everything about how I shopped for and fed my family. I no longer went to the supermarket and instead overcame my language fears and forged a fast friendship with the neighborhood butcher and trekked down the hill to the Trionfale market in search of vegetables that were grown in nearby Maccarese. One of the farmers at that American Academy event was Giuseppe Brandizzi, a third generation cattle farmer who sells what might be the best steak in Lazio. 

12.17.2014

Living in Rome {Gillian's List of Links}

Living in Rome

When you are a foreigner in a foreign land there are a lot of things to figure out. There are the practical things like learning the language and what on earth that stuff you need to clean the bathtub is called. In the grand scheme of expat life these challenges are pretty easy to tackle and master. And then there are the fuzzier, deeper things. First you learn about La Bella Figura and that it really does matter and maybe then you move on to why on earth does the shop owner stand in front of the entrance smoking a cigarette when all you want to do go inside. Whether you are living in Rome for a few months or a lifetime there is always another layer of culture to uncover. Another thing to try and make sense of. In the end that is why I chose this life. I enjoy that never-ending search for a deeper layer of understanding of a place that piano piano just might become my own. These are a few things that I have been reading and watching in my quest for understanding.

12.12.2014

Eating in Tuscany {Antica Locanda di Sesto}

Eating in Tuscany

The Tuscan Chef Aurelio Barattini was one of the first people I followed when I first got started with Instagram. I remember when his son was born and over the years I have followed along on trips to the beach and New York City. His behind the scene pictures of what he and the team of chefs at Antica Locanda di Sesto just outside of Lucca are cooking is sweet torture. Rare Tuscan steaks, hand rolled pastas, traditional Lucchese desserts; Each shot just makes you hungry both for the food and a trip north to Tuscany. Finally after years of attempts we made it to Lucca and I met my social media pal in real life.

12.10.2014

A Weekend in Tuscany {Lucca}

A Weekend in Tuscany // Lucca

A Weekend in Tuscany // Lucca

I have written here before about how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. But this year, my first with Noah away at college, the thought of planning and celebrating and feasting made my heart hurt a little. Mark had the great idea to just get out of town for the weekend. We chose to spend a weekend in Lucca. Thankfully.

12.05.2014

Eating in Rome {Açaí & Friends}

Eating in Rome

Since September I have really been on a mission to eat more vegetables and less pizza bianca. Luckily in my Monti neighborhood that's pretty easy. I can go get some green juice up the street or a slice of farinata from downstairs. The other day after a teensy shopping spree I was starving and wanted something quick. I was just about to succumb to a salty, carby slab when I spied Açaí & Friends.

12.04.2014

Christmas in Rome

Christmas in Rome

The calendar says December. The thermometer feels more like April. Here in Rome the city is busy getting dressed up for the holidays. 

Soon the streets will be filled with sparkly lights and decorated trees. For right now here is sneak peek of what's to come.

12.03.2014

Christmas Gift Guide {Gillian's List of Links}

Christmas in Rome

It's no secret I love a list. Another thing I love are gift guides. Here is my Christmas gift guide for 2014.

11.28.2014

Shopping in Rome { & Other Stories + COS}

Shopping in Rome

Shopping in Rome

It is not Black Friday here in Rome, but this is a post about shopping. 

I love to shop. I love looking at beautiful things artfully arranged in a gorgeous space. After years living in places that had little to offer in the shopping realm, wandering in and out of stores is still entertainment for me.

I rarely buy much anymore, except for books and food, but that doesn't count does it? I am afraid this is going to change. Pretty dramatically. On an elegant side street just off the via del Corso two stores have quietly opened that for me are going to change everything about clothes shopping in Rome.

11.26.2014

Eating in Rome {The Eatery}

Eating in Rome

Eating in Rome

I love to meet friends for drinks and to go out for dinner but I really don't enjoy crowds. That means on a weekend I am much more likely to rent a movie and send Mark out for take out than head to the buzzy new spot in town. Another dilemma I face is wanting to try everything on the menu. Dinner at Rome's best pop up restaurant, The Eatery solved all of these hassles.

11.21.2014

Coffee in Rome {Emporio alla Pace}

Coffee in Rome

Coffee in Rome

The other morning I was meeting my pal Heather for breakfast and somehow ended up leaving the house half an hour before I was supposed to. I assure you. That never happens. 

I found myself with 30 minutes to kill near Piazza Navona which can be kind of a wasteland of tourist trinket shops and bad gelato. Luckily a good cup of coffee is never far. 

11.19.2014

Autumn Entertainment {Gillian's List of Links}

Rome Stormy Skies

While my general world view is pretty sunny, my default entertainment choice skews dark. I have a few friends that never. ever. let me pick the movie. 

Here are a few things I am listening to and watching right now that are perfect for the shorter days and rainy nights of late autumn.

11.14.2014

Palazzos in Rome {Palazzo Colonna}

Palazzos in Rome // Palazzo Colonna

Palazzos in Rome // Palazzo Colonna

It's not everyday that my afternoon involves free reign of an art filled private palazzo. The other day as a benefit of my being a Friend of the American Academy in Rome I got to live out all of my girlhood princess dreams.

11.12.2014

Eating in Rome {Pianostrada + Trastevere}

Where to eat in Rome


Where to eat in Rome

A few Sundays ago the sky in Rome was an incredible soft blue and dotted with light fluffy clouds. The sun was shining. It was a perfect Autumn day. It was silly to be inside studying French (Mark) and writing blog posts (me) so we cast aside our chores and went for a long walk.  We were not the only ones who had that idea. Via Fori Imperiali was super crowded, the ghetto was almost impassable, we twisted and turned our way towards the river and away from the masses. We ended up in Trastevere, a part of town we rarely visit and barely know. I remembered that there has been a lot of buzz about a tiny spot on a tiny street run by a quartet of Roman women. Pianostrada was the perfect destination.

11.07.2014

Eating in Rome {Ristorante Ar Galletto + Piazza Farnese}

Eating in Rome

A general rule in Italy is the prettier the view the lousier the food. But as you know Italians don't always follow the rules. I am happy to report I have found an exception. Ar Galletto is in one of Rome's most beautiful piazza's with a view of the renaissance Michelangelo designed masterpiece that is Palazzo Farnese now the home of the embassy of France.

11.05.2014

Fountains in Rome

Fountains in Rome

Fountains in Rome

Did you know that Rome has 2,000 fountains? The eternal city's most famous fountain is currently hidden under all kinds of scaffolding. If you visit the Trevi Fountain now you will find the water has all been drained and that there is a long line to walk across one very narrow walkway to see a few details up close. It is not really very pretty and even less photogenic. While you can still swing by and toss your coins in,  here are a few suggestions for my favorite alternative fountains in Rome.

10.31.2014

A Weekend in Tuscany {La Bandita Townhouse + Piscine del Sole + Bagno Vignoni}

Weekend in Tuscany

Weekend in Tuscany


After an extraordinary visit to a fantastical castle in Tuscany a few weeks ago we decided since we had driven all the way to Tuscany we should probably just make a weekend of it.

While we spend a lot of time in the countryside, it is usually at a friends house where we sleep late, cook and read by the pool or fire depending on the season. There is sometimes a little bit of exploring, maybe even a visit to a pretty hill town. That means while we have visited lots of places we almost never stay for more than a few hours in those pretty hill towns. In the spirit of doing something different, I sent an email to an Instagram pal who just happens to own the very chic hotel La Bandita Townhouse in the town of Pienza smack in the middle of one of the most picture perfect parts of Tuscany and very near one of our favorite hot springs.

10.29.2014

What to do in Rome on a Rainy Day {Catacombs Tour + The Roman Guy}

What to do in Rome on a Rainy Day

What to do in Rome on a Rainy Day

Statistics show that Rome has a yearly average of 2273 hours of sunshine. But as we all know, not every day can be filled with blue skies. On a recent drizzly morning I was invited by The Roman Guy to head underground, safe and dry from the chaos that reigns (see what I did there?)when they skies unleash in the eternal city.

10.24.2014

How to Visit Sammezzano Castle + Tuscany

Sammezzano Castle Tuscany


I am not one to try my luck. I don't buy scratch cards, or enter contests and almost never gamble. Though maybe I should. The one time I played a slot machine it was with a quarter I found on a Las Vegas casino floor. I popped it into the the first slot machine I saw and hit a $200 jackpot! I didn't press my luck though. I walked right off the casino floor and bought a cashmere shawl that I still wear today. Improbably, I recently hit a different kind of jackpot. This particular win was more cultural than monetary, but I will take my luck in whatever it's form. Even better when that form is a rare visit to an abandoned castle in the Tuscan countryside.

10.22.2014

Museums in Rome { Musei Nazionale Romana }

Museums in Rome Musei Nazionale Romana


Museums in Rome, Musei Nazionale Romana

Walks of Italy and CoopCulture gave me a gift for my birthday. They didn't know it was my birthday, but I celebrated the recent October day (and the day before and the day after; birthdays should be indulgent right? ) with a walk around Rome with some of my favorite pals and by visiting the four museums of the Musei Nazionale Romana

10.17.2014

Where to Eat, Drink and Shop in Amsterdam

Where to Eat, Drink and Shop in Amsterdam

Where to Eat, Drink and Shop in Amsterdam

Earlier this week I told you all about what to do in Amsterdam. Today I will share where to eat, drink and shop.

10.15.2014

What to do in Amsterdam {Eating Amsterdam Food Tours + Where to Find The Fault in Our Stars Bench}

What to do in Amsterdam

What to do in Amsterdam

As a final hurrah to end a fabulous summer I recently zipped off to Amsterdam with an adventurous pal where we walked, ate, drank, shopped and talked our way through the streets of this charming and efficient city. 

Here are my tips for the best things to do in Amsterdam. 

10.10.2014

Eating in Rome {Healthy Choices in Monti}

Eating in Rome {Healthy Choices in Monti}

Eating in Rome {Healthy Choices in Monti}

I love food. I love to shop for food, read about food, think about food and obviously eat delicious food. Rome is a wonderful place for a food lover to live with the endless plates of pastas with bold hearty sauces, thin crusted pizzas, creamy gelato, craft beer, decadent pastries. I love it all.

But, as with all good things, there needs to be a balance. After a very indulgent summer of lots of travel and even more eating (and yes cocktails too) I am back on my yoga mat and craving plates piled high with fresh vegetables and spicy vitamin packed juices. Luckily I live in Monti, one of Rome's best neighborhoods where on the via Urbana there are three terrific options for when you are in need of a break from the Italian carb-a-thon.

10.08.2014

Where to Stay on the Rimini Riveria {Hotel Eliseo + Bellaria Igea Marina}

Where to Stay on the Rimini Riveria  // Hotel Eliseo //  Bellaria Igea Marina

Where to Stay on the Rimini Riveria  // Hotel Eliseo //  Bellaria Igea Marina

A wise friend of mine once said to me, “I think that Americans misunderstand Italians”


She went on to explain that Americans see Italians as passionate but she insists that that is not really the case. “Italians, she explains, are sentimental”

After a stay at charming Hotel Eliseo in Bellaria Igea Marina near Rimini I think I finally understand what she was saying.

10.03.2014

Where to Eat in Ponza

Where to eat in Ponza

Where to eat in Ponza

The island of Ponza is an extraordinary place. It has a wild, rugged charm with it's limpid blue water, fiery sunsets and rocky paths to empty beaches. By comparison, the food in Ponza is creative, refined and incredibly fresh. Read on for my list of where to eat in Ponza. 

10.01.2014

How to Visit the Temples of Paestum

How to Visit the Temples of Paestum

How to Visit the Temples of Paestum

Posedonia. I love the sound of the ancient word for this ancient place, evoking gods and the sea. In the spirit of adventure instead of heading to Capri after a languorous week in Positano as is our habit we turned the other direction towards what in modern day Italy is known as Paestum. This stretch of land just past the vertiginous Amalfi Coast is home to wide sandy beaches, some of the best mozzarella in Italy and the breathtakingly intact ancient temples. 

These are my tips for how to visit the temples of Paestum.

9.26.2014

Cape Cod Chic {Platinum Pebble Inn + Chatham Lighthouse Beach}

Where to stay on Cape Cod

Best beaches on Cape Cod

Are you looking to spend an elegant few days on Cape Cod? Here are my suggestions.

9.24.2014

Where to Eat on Cape Cod

Where to Eat on Cape Cod

Where to Eat on Cape Cod

It's all about the Lobster. And Oysters. And Clams.

And for a homesick expat a fish taco or two.  Here is my list of where we ate on a recent, much too short, trip to Cape Cod.

9.19.2014

Cocktails in Rome {The Corner Townhouse}


Cocktails in Rome

Cocktails in Rome

When  you go to have a drink at the newly opened Aventino hotspot The Corner Townhouse make sure you are really specific about where you are meeting your cocktail pals.