Italy – May 2017

I feel like an evil genius! I’ve figured it out!

I believe I’ve mapped out the best trip possible for us starting in Venice and ending in Rome.

Here it goes:

Day 1: Land in Venice at 7:30am. Take a nap and stroll around.
Day 2: Venice tour day!
Day 3: Day trip from Venice to Burano.
Day 4: Drive to Golfo Paradiso, after spending a few hours in Verona.
Day 5: Tour Golfo Paradiso.
Day 6: Drive from Golfo Paradiso to Bologna, stopping at Parma & Modena on the way.
Day 7: Bologna tour day!
Day 8: Train from Bologna to Rome!!
Days 9 & 10: Tour Roma.
Day 11: Fly home.

We’re going to be moving a LOT more than normal but I think we’ll be okay!

If anyone has any recommendations or tips for these cities, please share!

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Oh The Places You’ll Go…2017

Well, it’s been 2017 for 10 days now and I’m planning travels for this year! Here is a list of what we’re thinking for 2017:

~ Montreal or Ottawa road trip with our friends for our 30th birthdays.

~ Italy for our 30th birthday slash five year wedding anniversary trip (I’m thinking a road trip of the north with a few day stop in Rome – of course!).

~ Perhaps a second trip to Europe, for an extended long weekend.

~ Las Vegas!

~ Boston or Chicago (or both) road trip.

~ Rounding off the year somewhere hot, if our time off allows. I haven’t had a beach vacation in years!

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Intense Wanderlust for Roma

I feel a relatively strong feeling of wanderlust on the regular but it’s been a few months since a big trip (with not a whole lot planned for the near future) and I’m getting the itch again.

Add a dash of Rome craving from the book Roman Crazy (recommended to me by my friend Teresa) and that our trip to Italy next year might be delayed and I’ve got it bad. I’ve got the wanderlustin’ for Roma blues!

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So that I don’t go completely mad (and to feel like I’m doing some planning for something), I’ve started a list. Well, two.

The first, places & things I haven’t seen (yet) in Rome. Included so far is: the Pyramid of Cestius, the catacombs, the Baths of Diocletian, Ostia Antica and the neighbourhood of Testaccio.

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Secondly (and equally important) is restaurants and things to eat. We have our favourite restaurants but I would love to have carbonara at Trattoria da Danilo, anything at Eataly Rome, bucanti all’amatriciana and all the artichokes! Plus, I must be reunited with the beautiful Roman style pizza.

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What would you add to the list? Do you have a love on for a city the way I have for Rome?

Italy’s Heel: Road Trip

Our third trip back to Italy (in three years, we are I am obsessed), we thought we’d see some of the south. My Italian cousin, Umberto, had shared his love of the south despite being Roman, and we had never been any further south than the Amalfi Coast so we thought why not? The original plan was to get to the south and take a boat across to Greece. Unfortunately, boats don’t run any earlier than mid June and since we bought our flights already we decided to make the best of it.

The idea was we would have a few home bases and do day trips to different towns. First things first, we planned where our home bases would be – Bari, Brindisi, Lecce and, finally, Matera. We basically wanted to try to cover all of Italy’s “heel”.

We took a train from Rome down to Bari and set ourselves up in our hotel. Our first day there we walked around the town and made our way to a car rental place. Now we had our wheels to get out and explore – and that’s just what we did! Each day we made it to a new place (or two) and at the end of our time we drove back to Bari and trained it back to Rome.

We did very little planning of our day-to-day, which made it one of my favourite trips. No pressure to see everything, just driving to a new place, walking around and enjoying the adventure.

Here are the places we visited in the 10 days:

Bari
Trani
Polignano A Mare
Brindisi
Osunti
Lecce
Otranto
Santa Maria di Leuca
Gallipoli
Porto Cesareo
Taranto
Matera

The people of the south were lovely, though it was a different feel to the rest of Italy. That’s part of what I love about Italy, though. Every province has it’s own food and personality. The south was stunning. More beautiful then I ever imagined. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back!

In the future, I’ll definitely be sharing a little more about my favourite towns on this trip.

Have you ever been to the south of Italy? What was your favourite town?

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Buon Appetito – Roma

Let’s be honest, the best part about traveling to Italy is the food – for me at least! All of Italy’s regions have different specialties and flavours. The north serves more rice (risotto) and food made with butter, the south is traditionally more poor so they serve a lot of beans and use more olive oil. No matter where you go you can find delicious dishes. This blog, though, is going to focus on some of the specialties of Rome.

Spaghetti cacio e pepe

This dish is so simple and so delicious – spaghetti topped with cacio (pecorino romano cheese) and pepper.

Roman Style Pizza

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Italy is obviously known for it’s pizza, but did you know that it differs between regions? Roman style pizza is very thin and doesn’t have a discernible crust. If it’s done right, it will have a slight char.

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There are two ways that artichokes are made in the Rome region – Roman style (alla romana) and Jewish style (alla giudia). Roman style artichokes are cooked with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Jewish style are marinated in lemon juice and water then fried in olive oil.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

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Translated into English, this dish translates to, “hops in your mouth”. Saltimbocca alla Romana is veal wrapped in prosciutto and sage, then cooked in a wine sauce.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Think breakfast in a pasta dish. Spaghetti alla carbonara is bacon (pancetta or guanciale) and egg that, combined, create a creamy sauce. The pasta is then topped with Pecorino Romano.

 

To be honest, I could go on and on about all of the incredible dishes you can find in Rome, but those are my favourites. I hope you try them all when you visit Rome!

A Rome Favourite – Piazza Navona

It’s hard to pick a favourite piazza in Rome. Each are unique and have their own vibe, but I must admit the Piazza Navona is my absolute favourite! Here’s why:

The Fountains

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There are three fountains in the Piazza Navona, one on either end and one in the centre. At the south end is the Fontana del Moro, at the north is the Fountain of Neptune. Both beautiful, but the centre fountain, Fountana dei Quattro Fuimi (Fountain of Four Rivers), by Bernini is the piece de resistance. The four rivers depicted are the Danube, Nile, Rio de la Plata and Gagnes. Above them, an Egyptian obelisk.

The History

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The piazza was built entirely on the interior of the Stadium of Domitian, which was used mostly for athletic games and explains the long and oval shape. If you walk to the north end of the piazza, you can see remains of 1st Century stadium as the city built up and around it.

The Energy

There is something specific about the energy in the Piazza Navona. You can walk in from all four sides and come upon a wave of it. You’ll see large crowds, entertainers, painters, kids, couples and more! Even though the piazza was a market in the 15th Century, it still hosts the Christmas Market.

And it’s even more beautiful at night.

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When you visit the piazza, grab a gelatto, stroll and take it all in!

Can’t Miss Roman Sites

When you hear the word Rome, you think about the Colosseum and Forum. But Rome is so much more!

Here are my Can’t Miss Roman Sites…

Trevi Fountain

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Recently under reconstruction, the Trevi Fountain is once again open for all to marvel at. The fountain is beautiful, but always packed with tourists. Visit early in the morning or late at night (the lights are incredible). Legend says that if you throw a coin over your right shoulder into the fountain, you’ll make it back to Rome again. The city collects and uses the coins to feed it’s poor.

 

The Pantheon

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The Pantheon we see today is the second built in this location, though it is still almost 2,000 years old. When you visit, be sure to look up! The big circular hole (oculus) in the dome (Rotunda) is the only source of natural light. On April 21st at noon, the light from the oculus hits the metal above the door lighting up the entire porch.

 

Piazza del Poppolo

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Featuring the oldest obelisk in the city and twin churches, this is considered the entrance to the city. All roads lead to Rome, and this piazza leads into the city. When coming from the north, the piazza turns into a three streets (known as the trident), with centre road being Via del Corso. Look up to see Pincino – a beautiful and large garden with great views of the city that lead into the Borghese Gardens.

 

Campo di Fiori

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The Campo di Fiori is a huge piazza that is filled daily with vendors selling everything from vegetables to cheese, olive oil to grappa, flowers to clothing. It’s a great spot to shop for souvenirs or to just have a taste of something yummy!

 

Spanish Steps

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The Spanish Steps (though filled with tourists and, therefore, pick pockets) is a great place to walk, eat some gelato and people watch. At the base of the steps, close to the Spanish Embassy, is the Fountain of the Ugly Boat and the Roman shopping district. Dior, Burberry, Armani, Prada, Cartier and more are just steps away!

 

All five of these are places I have to visit, even if I just have one day in Rome. Be sure to check them out on your visit!