Greetings, and welcome to the five-part blog series on our recent travels to Italy!
EAT MOVE REST IN ITALY
A 5-PART TOUR
Below you will find a handful of helpful information on delicious dining, fabulous fashion, and stunning sights from the 5 places that Dusty and I visited during our summer vacation abroad!
Also be sure to check out Parts 1-3 for an Italian, plant-based primer, and a taste of Venice, Florence, & Tuscany!
VENICE // FLORENCE // TUSCANY // ROME // POSITANO
Part 4: There's No Place Like Rome
THE ETERNAL CITY
From Vineyards To The Vatican
We stepped out our front door, held each other tightly, and gazed out over the rolling vineyards one last time. We took in a breath of fresh, Tuscan air, and saddled up in our Fiat to make our way to the Eternal City--Roma!
We had originally made plans to return our rental car and take a train, but it was such smooth sailing (on the right side of the road--phew!), that we decided why not keep it and drive down to Rome? We opted to take the scenic route, past the expansive Lago di Bolsena, on out to the coast, passing through tiny villages, and stopping often to wander and explore.
Upon entering the circular city of Roma, memories from our European honeymoon came rushing back. We crossed over the Tiber River and caught a glimpse of St. Peter's Basilica, towering over the rooftops.
We made our way to our Airbnb, nestled in amongst other romantic, pink and orange dwellings. Our host informed us that there was no elevator in our age-old apartment building, so we proceeded to lug our over-packed luggage up three, long and grueling flights of crooked stairs. When we stepped foot inside, though, we were instantly transported back to modern time.
Keeping The Faith
The following morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and cabbed to the outskirts of the Vatican City, to meet our tour group. This would be the one and only pre-arranged, organized day of our trip, and a must-see for any Roman tourist! The reason why it pays to book a tour of the grounds, is that you get to bypass the endless line of people that wraps around the city's walls. Nothing brings the Christian faith to life like seeing Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel and listening to the stories of the faithful throughout the ages. Ultimately, though, regardless of one's beliefs or religious affiliation, the Vatican City is an awe-inspiring spectacle to be witnessed by anyone!
Most basilicas and chapels require that your shoulders and knees be covered, so I opted for a lightweight, linen button-up from Gap, my new favorite linen pants from a local shop in Venice called Sweet Benedict, a cute and comfortable pair of sandals from J.Crew Outlet, and I always keep my favorite Ray-Ban Clubmasters in my purse, because they go with anything and everything!
Smoothies + Salads
After our tour of the Vatican, we came across a café by day, turned night club and cocktail lounge by night, advertising açaí bowls, so we stopped for lunch! Escopazzo had the most uniquely amazing smoothies and superfood salads, and the aesthetic was on point!
Matters Of The Heart
One of our favorite locations in Rome is the Villa Borghese gardens--a lush, green, heart-shaped park in the midst of the city, providing a breathe of fresh air, similar to that of Central Park in New York.
As we wandered our way to the park to reminisce about the first stop we made on our honeymoon a few years prior, Dusty and I got into a silly argument. It's funny how the tiniest sliver can sometimes inflict the deepest and most painful of wounds. We pierced our way into the garden's edge, as the metaphorical blood began to drip from our mouths--we were being tested--I could feel it.
Romance isn't always romantic--even in Rome.
I refused to pass through the vein of the heart until we had settled our differences. Sometimes you've got to break down and strip everything away in order to repair and re-build. Emotionally and physically exhausted, we finally came to a point of tears dried up, a crack of a smile followed by relief and laughter, and made amends.
God has a funny way of injecting symbolism into our lives--if we look and listen, the synchonicities will begin to become evermore present and apparent. We crossed through the park with a renewed sense of the bond of marriage, and just how sacred it is.
Sunshine + Sundresses
Sundresses were literally almost all I packed...or bought! The sun was beaming hot, and the temperature didn't drop too much at night, so the brand new dress I bought in Orvieto (our previous stop), was comfortable for daytime sight-seeing and evening outdoor dining. I love finding one-of-a-kind gems that you can't get back home--the type of garments that you keep forever! And, when in Rome, you pair your dress with none other than gladiator sandals--I just love how they peeked out perfectly from the front of this dress!
Another must-see--or must do, is the Spanish Steps--an iconic, social hangout spot, littered with locals and tourists alike. Stepping our way down, we were met by horse-drawn carriages and narrow streets lined with shopping in all price ranges. The waft of fresh basil atop classic, pizza-and-pasta dishes spilled out from countless ristorantes and the melody of a distant accordion floated through the corridors.
Plant-Powered Pizza & Pasta
Dusty and I enjoyed more than our fair share of pizza and pasta, whether home-cooked (below) or dining out, and something different was baked into these artisanal, Italian classics. We didn't feel the pangs of a "food coma" once--as would be the norm at home with a deep dish pizza from somewhere like Old Chicago!
The cracker-thin-crust pizzas with barely even a dusting of cheese on top were the standard throughout all of Italia. We had no trouble asking vegano? (vegan?), or simply requesting senza formaggio (without cheese), and instead, we piled our pizzas high with tons of veggies; many restaurants even offered vegan cheese options. Pasta was equally as easy and delicious, and plant-based or not, you can't go wrong with spaghetti pomodoro--a typical pasta dish topped with fresh tomato sauce and basil.
Our favorite restaurant that we stumbled upon was called Hosteria del Mercato, which had plenty of healthy and delicious plant-based options. We dined outside on the narrow, cobblestone road, and enjoyed bruschetta and pizza, and then wandered our way inside for a dose of design inspiration. Upon entering the cross-shaped venue, there were crates overflowing with fresh, local fruits & veggies, and a juice & smoothie bar. Moving forward, there was indoor dining, backed by a lush, live, green wall. Off to the left was a fresh, bio (organic) supermarket, and to the right was a cozy, well-decorated bar. Someday we hope to open a place just like this one!
Fresh Fruit + Stunning Sights
On our last day, we went for a long run, looping around the Villa Borghese gardens and making our way to Campo Dei Fiori's well-known, open-air produce market. We re-fueled and stocked up on a bit of everything, and cabbed home to get ready for some necessary sight-seeing.
Nothing says Rome like red! I just knew when I bought my brand new, flowy red dress from Banana Republic, that it would be the perfect outfit to make me feel like a Roman goddess! Rome was the hottest of all the places we stayed in Italy (about 100 degrees!), so the more lightweight you can go, the better! I paired my dress with the hubby's favorite Ray-Ban Aviators and a simple sandal from J.Crew Outlet, and felt comfortable and fabulous--the best combo!
The Golden Hour
We walked our way along the road back to our Airbnb and stopped at a clearing to watch the sunset over the horizon. It seems that no matter where you wander, all of Italy possesses a warm, orange glow, pervasive at any time of the day--but especially just before nightfall.
There's No Place Like Rome
The photo to the left was taken on our honeymoon in June of 2013. We came upon a random church with a large, crumbling yet alluring facade. We entered and had a moment of silence, and little did I know that Dusty was snapping a shot of me from behind, that would now hang, framed beside our bed. It reminds me that God is always shining down on us.
This time, we had planned to swing by one evening to pay a visit, but it had closed at 6pm and we had just missed the cutoff. The next morning, we made our way to the train station and there it was, sitting right next door! We had about an hour to kill, so we took turns guarding the luggage and were both able to stop in. God also has a sense of humor, and puts things in our paths right when we least expect them!
Love Is An Action
Before we departed, we left our mark on Rome, and Rome most definitely left its mark on us. The main takeaway from Rome was that, you can be in the most romantic city in the world, and still find your heart upside down and inside out. There is an ever-present light and a looming darkness that evades our human existence on this earth, and from time to time, the two butt heads, and cause us to be tested in a very real way. Dusty and I have had our fair share of marital hurdles to overcome, but we've managed to come out stronger, more mature, and with a greater sense of understanding of one another's differences each and every time.
True love is not merely a feeling, it's an action. Choose love, be love, share love, spread love.
Stay tuned for EatMoveRest In Italy, Part 5: Positano, coming up next! We'll be bringing you more helpful insight on being plant-based abroad, as well as more food, fashion, and fun! Also be sure to check the EatMoveRest YouTube channel for the latest recap there! Until next time, explore more!