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London City Guide; The Best things to Eat, See and Do in London

London City Guide; The Best things to Eat, See and Do in London

London City Guide; The Best things to Eat, See and Do in London

I wrote a mini London city guide on my Instagram but I couldn't include everything there so I have expanded the guide here on my blog. You will find my personalized selection of the best things to eat, see, and do in London.

London is many things for me. It has been home, a place to transit through on my way to other homes in Niamey, Harare or Rome, sometimes the city was a torment with its dark winters and the exasperating Piccadilly line, but more than anything London has always been a place to return to. 

London is the place where I made my very first list for a traveling friend. Now here is one for you. It includes places I have been going to since I was a child and places I discovered last week. Bookmark it and share it with your traveling friends.


Life in a Modern Rome

Roman Forum with murmuration

The Eternal City has changed in the more than a dozen years since I first moved here. A lot. Some things are arguably worse now, like public transportation what with buses bursting into flames and months of closed metro stations, not to mention the endless delays of the Metro C line. Compared to my first years in Rome when it was near impossible to find out when a shop or restaurant was open so many things are easier now. From apps on my phone, I can summon taxis and tacos, book seats at the movies an on a train. 

Fellow ex-pats (yes I use that word to describe myself, unlike just about everyone else I know here I am in Italy as a guest of the Foreign Ministry and will have to leave when my husband’s job here is finished) and immigrants wring their hands at the invasion of all of this non-Italian culture. I am not worried. The first of the Erasmus kids are in their 30’s now and have seen the world, tried new foods, learned new languages and most importantly, come home. Like Italians with their confident adoption of English words like business and selfie with no fear about the loss of their language, I have little doubt that the local bar will survive the opening of the long-rumored Starbucks and no one is completely abandoning their leisurely Sunday lunches at the beach because of a delivery taco on a Saturday night.

I still eat more Amatriciana than sushi and the Pantheon still makes me gasp when I walk by but here are a few new-ish things that make life in Rome just a little bit easier. 


Discover the Countryside Near Rome

Easy Farm visits Near Rome Agriturismo Colle Tocci

Easy Farm visits Near Rome Torrino dei Gelsi

When we first moved to Rome we made a decision about how we would spend our time here. Instead of using Rome as a base to explore Europe's great cities we chose instead to stick close to home. In our first years, we drove to charming hill towns and soaked in sulfury hot springs. We explored beaches in summer and deepest winter and found places to eat on country roads and next to volcanic lakes. Nothing was more than a two-hour drive and we rarely left the region of Lazio. 

After a few years, we got busy with life and found favorite places that we returned to over and over. Our exploring deepened instead of widened. 

When I got the invitation from Italy Indeed to join a Camera di Commercio di Roma endeavour to highlight some of Lazio’s lesser-known places I was thrilled to ignite that exploring spark again.

When you are planning your visit to Rome, consider adding a day or two to your trip and do some of your own exploring in the Lazio countryside. 


August in Rome - 2019 Edition

August in Rome

Most of my friends have scattered to houses in the countryside, cool alpine villages, and beachy islands for the next few weeks. I do Italian summer slightly differently. I spent most of June and July on my beloved Ponza before the crowds arrived and now that August is here I plan to stay in Rome. For most of it anyway.

If you too are spending time in Rome this August click on over to my updated post for information on where to eat and what's open in town.


Postcards from a Secret Rome

come fare foto belle in viaggio e condividerle su Instagram GPS

come fare foto belle in viaggio e condividerle su Instagram GPS

It sounds uninspired to say but Rome really is an extraordinary place. The city is home to some of the worlds most important and revered sites. The Colosseum, the Vatican Museums and the Trevi fountain are the overachievers. The ones that get all the attention and crowds. Rome is also full of secret places. Treasures to be discovered. Sometimes lost in all of the discussions right now about over tourism is practical things you can do as a traveler. My suggestion is to add something unusual to your list of must-see places. I promise you will not be disappointed. The easiest way to dig deeper is to book a tour with a local tour company that works with registered guides. That way you are guaranteed an experience with people who live here and know and love their city,

This past June I was invited by City Lights Tours, together with Global Postal Service to experience their private Secret Rome Tour.  The day of the tour was one of the hottest days ever recorded in Europe. When I woke up the day before on the island of Ponza and checked the weather I seriously questioned the decision I had made to leave my island idyll and come back to the city. I needn’t have feared. We were whisked to six different places all over the city in an air-conditioned van.


How to Go to the Beach in Venice

How to Go to the Beach in Venice

How to Go to the Beach in Venice

This year we had a lovely mild winter with enough sunny afternoons for spritzes outside in January and long beach lunches in February and March and then spring arrived like a soggy gray blanket. Here in Rome the sky stayed stubbornly leaden with occasional breaks for a ferocious downpour. I wore out umbrellas, had to throw out shoes that never quite dried and literally thanked my inanimate tumble-dryer regularly.  It is early June now and as I type every fan in the apartment is on and I don’t dare turn off the pinguino in the bedroom for fear it will never be able lower the temperature below 23 degrees with its small laboring compressor again. 

Italians know what to do when the weather heats up. They do not suffer in un-airconditioned apartments or wait in long lines with no shade to see historic sights. They go to the beach. Or maybe the pool

The last time we were in Venice we woke up to a perfect early spring day that promised plenty of sunshine and no wind so we decided to hop across the canal to Lido. Three vaporetto stops from San Marco-San Zaccaria station (it’s the one around the corner from Piazza San Marco just past the Bridge of Sighs) and you are transported from the crush and the crowds that is sadly what Venice is becoming most famous for to another world. On Lido there are cars, make sure to look both ways if you have been in Venice for a few days, Liberty style villas and kilometers and kilometers of beach. You can rent a bike, take a walk, lounge by the sea, have a spritz, have lunch, and be back in Venice for dinner. 


How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

How to Spend a Weekend in a Castle in Tuscany {Castello delle Serre}

There is a lot of talk these days about over tourism and "authentic" travel in Italy. Even the word authentic has been used to so much that its meaning is becoming elastic and slippery. I have a lot of thoughts and am working on a much longer piece on this subject but for right now I want to share a very specific way you can have a remarkable experience that benefits people and businesses who are invested in the places they live.

One important way to be a responsible visitor starts with where you stay. Do your research and find a place that is owned by people who live in the place you are visiting. If you are planning on spending some time in Tuscany then the Castello delle Serre checks all of the boxes. 


Al Pompiere Restaurant in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

Al Pompiere Restaurant in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

Al Pompiere Restaurant in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

The weekend before Frank Bruni’s piece about dining while middle aged hit my Facebook feed I had a late night conversation about a meal I had just come home from. The food was fantastic, the volume level was fine but the newish space was on a rooftop and had very uncomfortable chairs. Despite all its sparkly charms, I am in no hurry to return.

These days I am happiest at home with Netflix or entertaining friends and family. When I do go out I am not interested in the newest place that is getting all the buzz. I am the cliche from the article. The one whose desire is comfortable consistency

As much as I love a simple plate of Amatriciana in a place with interrogation lighting sometimes a more refined and elegant atmosphere is called for. Al Pompiere in the Ghetto hits all the right notes. Frescoed ceilings, starched white table cloths, clientele with regular tables and almost unspoken orders that have been memorized by a staff that has not changed for decades. 


A Guide to Venice in 10 Spritzes

A Guide to Venice in 10 Spritzes

A Guide to Venice in 10 Spritzes

One bitter January morning over our morning cappuccino Noah and I joked that we were going to attempt to have 10 spritzes in one day. Venice has a similar elastic and disorienting sense of time and place as another beloved place of mine. Like a late morning Sazerac at the Carousel Bar in New Orleans, in Venice it is perfectly acceptable to have a shot of grappa with your morning coffee or a 10:00 am prosecco with a gaggle of gondoliers. We didn’t hit our goal that trip but we sure had fun trying. 

One other thing about Venice is you walk. A lot. More than think you will even if you regularly hit your 10,000 steps a day. To help you plan your stops every few thousand steps or so I created this guide to some of my favorite places to have a spritz in Venice at just about any time of day.

Most bacaro, the traditional bars that serve wine, spritz, and cichetti, (plates of small snacks) are standing room only. My picks all have a place to sit down. 


Where to Eat in Ostiense; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Where to Eat in Ostiense; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Where to Eat in Ostiense; Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Ostiense is a neighborhood literally on the other side of the tracks. Don’t let that scare you though. You will find it just past Rome’s astonishing 3rd-century pyramid on the other side of Testaccio. 

There are three new, new in a Roman sense anyway, spots that I have been visiting regularly and I think that you should too. 

No matter what time of day your appetite strikes there is something to hit the spot. 


Come have coffee in Rome with me

Your flights are booked and you have chosen where to stay and maybe you have even a scheduled a tour or two but are you still feeling a little overwhelmed by your trip to Rome? Thinking about a day trip? Are you wondering where to eat and drink and shop? Or how to best get around while you are here? I can help. 

Spend an hour with me over coffee (or a spritz) and we will have a chat and come up with a plan for you to make the most of your short time in the city. This is not a tour. It is a conversation and is designed to be brief so that you have more time for your own exploring equipped with information and intention.

I have lived in Rome for the last 15 + years and love sharing my favorite places. My friends have long called me the source because I am quick with a recommendation no matter the question. Looking for the best place for a quick meal with a cranky 10-year-old or the perfect spot for a sunset cocktailWhere to find the sparkliest mosaics or spot a Caravaggio without the crowds? I can be counted on to find the answer.  

Let me help you find your way in Rome. Contact me here for information about availability and scheduling.