weekly favorites

Weekly Favorites 12/07/2017 - Life Update from Rome and Amalfi Coast

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To catch everyone up with what's been going on here the past month or so, here's a photo roundup of my time in Rome, my recent trip to the Amalfi Coast and some other fun things!

Amalfi Coast

My friend Jess came to visit last week and we definitely fit a lot in. The morning after she got in, we left for a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast. I booked a hotel in Praiano, Casa Colomba, which is along the coast between Positano and Amalfi and it ended up being the perfect spot for us. It was nice to be a bit more removed from the crowds in either location and also have easy access to the entire coast. Our room had an amazing view and we actually spent our first day lounging on the rocky Praiano beach, followed by a great seafood dinner in nearby Atrani.

amalfi coast

amalfi coast

We spent our second day exploring Positano and hanging out on the water there. I love shopping while I'm in Positano because there are so many beautiful clothing boutiques and ceramic shops. I bought a couple of things as gifts and also had to make a last-minute bikini purchase as I left mine back at the room. Thankfully I found one on sale because the prices in Positano are notoriously high!

amalfi coast

amalfi coast

We rented a boat for a few hours and took it out for a ride along the coast. It was such a fun way to see the area that I hadn't done before and we had a lot of fun. The water there is absolutely unbelievable, so swimming and boating was incredible. We didn't reserve anything in advance; to rent the boat we just checked at a few stands around Praiano and Positano, eventually taking one out from Positano because it seemed easier logistically. Prices run from €100-€300 for a couple of hours to a full day and it was relatively easy to drive without much experience!

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American Holidays in Italy

It's always somewhat strange to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July in a foreign country and can sometimes leave you missing home more than usual. Depending on the holiday, I'll try to do a fun event with friends and family, while this year for the 4th of July, I actually worked at an American ex-pat event. I helped out at a booth for the company I'm currently doing social media for and ended up having a fun day talking to Americans living in Rome, eating burgers and being surrounded by festive decorations. Thankfully I also had my America-loving boyfriend and my American friend visiting to make it even better.

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Beat the Heat

With temperatures in the high 90's in Rome, it's a struggle to go out in the middle of the day. I've been regulating my body temperature the Italian way, with cold caffe "shakeratos" (coffee shaken with ice), midday spritzes and plenty of gelato breaks. We do have airconditioning units in our apartment but compared to being back in the States, here it feels as though you'll never cool down completely. I guess it's just a great excuse for an all-ice cream diet ;)

amalfi coast

amalfi coast

Italian classics

With visitors I roll out all of the Roman classics and we end up eating out quite a lot. Last week, I made it back to da Enzo 29 and got a plate of Amatriciana and Coda alla Vaccinara. It didn't keep me cool at all but at least we were seated outdoors and I made a reservation 2 days ahead this time. We also heard people asking for the next available reservation and it was ONE WEEK OUT. So people, call ahead at this famous Trastevere spot.

amalfi coast

amalfi coast

Luckily I can learn lots of Italian dishes from Edoardo's mom, Franca. Jess was very excited to try her hand at gnocchi with pesto and I don't think she was disappointed. A little background though— gnocchi making takes a lot of physical strength and it isn't for the weak of heart. Franca assured us that it's a little easier if you mash the potatoes when they're freshly boiled. It was such a great afternoon and we learned how to make a pretty delicious dish by the end of it.

That's about it! It's definitely been busy around here recently, but everything is starting to slooow down for the hot summer months in Rome. Hopefully this means that I can get back to posting more frequently. Edoardo and I are both really excited for our trip to the States and a little beach getaway that we have planned for August, but I have a lot more to share about summer in Italy before heading out!

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Weekly Favorites 13/06/2017

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Summer in Rome is weird. It feels a little like being back in middle school, with everyone waiting for June and looking forward to summer vacation. Because everyone takes time off in August here, sometimes for the whole month, the summer doesn't feel like having a full time job usually does. I'm going back to the States for about three weeks and then have a beach holiday planned for the end of August. And this situation isn't strange for Italians. EVERYONE takes at least a couple weeks off in the summer. Stores close, buses don't run as often and aside from tourists, Rome starts to feel like an abandoned city. This is all to say that the summer vacation feels are kicking in and it's hard to focus on work when the weather is hot and beach time is so close. These are some of the things I've been up to this past week, and a small guide to summer in Rome. la vita roma

Taking plenty of breaks during the working day, going on fun weekend trips, and having aperitivo on the beach as often as possible all help make the summer more fun. Edoardo and I head to Fregene often for drinks or a meal because there are lots of restaurants and beach clubs with seats on the beach, but Ostia is also nice and accessible by train.

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Gelato breaks are one of my few motivations during the hot summer days here in Rome. There's nothing better than a lemon or raspberry sorbetto when it's past 90 degrees F. Check out my favorite gelato spots in Rome.

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While I have to go to the center of Rome for work, it's best to steer clear in the summer months. Because everything is so hot and there are SO MANY people around, it's definitely not as much fun to visit the monuments in July or August. But if you do have to go, get out early in the morning to skip the crowd.

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I also enjoy checking Facebook and other event pages for outdoor events in Rome for the summer. Going to concerts, food festivals and other events is such a fun way to spend time in a city.

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I hope everyone has a great week and has at least one summer holiday to look forward to :)

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Weekly Favorites 07/06/2017

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It's been a couple weeks since I last posted and it's good to be back. We're in the swing of summer here in Rome and I'm getting an influx of visitors, as well as taking on some more work, so it's harder to dedicate as much time to the blog as I would like. Anyways, today's post is going to be all about what sorts of things I did in Rome and the surrounding area with my best friend who visited last week. There are some good spots in here and I plan on writing full posts about some of my new favorite restaurants, things to do in Rome, and destinations. My five highlights from the week, below:

Wine-tasting and "Cantina Aperte" in Umbria

Last weekend, we went to a vineyard in Umbria called Tenuta Vitalonga Winery. I definitely want to write a post about this great agriturismo and vineyard, but for now it's enough to say that we spent the entire day drinking different types of wine with an open buffet of food, for €20. They had a fun event going with live music and bottomless bottles, with tours of the vineyard and wine production process.

Trastevere Wanderings

I also got to meet fellow Italian blogger, Ishita of Italophilia, and spent such a nice afternoon with her around Campo de' Fiori and Trastevere. We got drinks, checked out English bookshops and chatted about all things Italy. Check out her Twitter and Instagram (@italophilia) for daily bits of this beautiful place.

Aperitivo at MASTO

Testaccio is always the cool place to go for local shops and typical Roman food. I was really impressed with my quick aperitivo at MASTO because of their service and wide selection of meats, cheese, and wine (what else do you need in life?) We stopped here before heading to Flavio al Velavevodetto and had a great meat/cheese board and a fabulous white wine recommended by the owner. He says that they're doing very well and are planning to expand soon to other cities in Italy as well!

Weekend beach trip to Sabaudia

As always, a beach trip was exactly what I needed. After spending a lot of time in the center checking out all of Rome's lovely monuments and neighborhoods, we escaped the hot weather and went to the coast for a couple days. We lounged (mostly under an umbrella), ate fish, drank spritzes and pretty much enjoyed life.

Weekly Favorites 24/05/2017

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Summer has officially hit Rome and I'm doing everything I can to keep cool. While it's nothing compared to the temperatures in August, we've had 80-85 degree days all week. For me this means plenty of gelato, eating outside, time on the balcony and trying to stay cool on public transportation. It's also a great excuse to get out of the city on the weekend to head where its cooler. Like I mentioned last week, we've already hit the beach and mountain towns the past few weekends. And this weekend, my best friend is visiting from the US which is so exciting. We're planning plenty of time in the center of Rome and trips to vineyards and the coast. I'm sure I'll have lots of new photos next week, but for now check out what I'm loving recently:

Fresh food

With all of the weekend trips we've been taking, I've really tried to do my produce shopping outside of Rome as well. The food is so much better, cheaper and fresher when you get it from farm stands instead of at supermarkets. Italy also has amazing produce in general, with fruits and vegetables that have very strong natural flavors compared to what I was used to in the U.S. Aside from getting all in of the pizza and pasta while visiting Italy, definitely try some fresh veggies or fruit as well!

la vita roma

la vita roma

Sunset aperitivo

I've always noticed the cute rooftop bar overlooking Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps but last weekend was the first time I got a chance to check it out. Il Palazzetto is a hotel, restaurant, cafe and bar all in one, but I wouldn't recommend it for the food. A quick aperitivo of a rossini (prosecco and strawberry puree) and a beer were what we got and while the prices are higher due to the location, the sunset and atmosphere were worth it. Great for pre-dinner drinks or a quick stop during a day of sight-seeing in the center.

la vita roma

la vita roma

Beautiful blooms

Just because Rome is beautiful, its flowers are amazing and I'm happy to be here :)

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Weekly Favorites 17/05/2017

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Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past week! I like to share my favorite activities, reads, listens and anything in general that I found interesting on a weekly basis. la vita roma

Beach Days

Last weekend I finally made it down the coast to Sabaudia, a small town between Rome and Naples. I've always loved this area (including Gaeta, Terracina and Formia) for its laid-back beach vibe, lack of crazy crowds and beautiful beaches. While we've taken weekend trips here in the past, Saturday I went down for lunch and some time on the beach with my boyfriend and Italian friend who is from the area. We had lunch with his family, which was VERY cool because most of the food came directly from their farm. They're surrounded by greenhouses and fields, growing their own produce to eat and sell. Of course, lunch was delicious, but it was so nice to meet some people who are from rural Italy and hear about their life on a farm/near the sea. So often I'm surrounded by city people, while I'm missing my home in the country.

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Our beach day was beautiful, but windy. We lounged, talked, got mojitos from a beach shack and my brave friend took a swim in the cold water. I love days like these where I have nothing crazy going on but I can be outside the city, hang out with friends and eat/drink all I want.

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Gelato Season

I'm back to my gelato-a-day lifestyle and not mad about it. This year I plan on taste testing even more gelaterias in Rome to find the best gelato in the city, but more often than not, I grab a quick cone between lessons around my neighborhood. A couple of my favorites are La Romana, Gutilla, and Fatamorgana.

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Instagram

I listen to a lot of podcasts about online marketing (like Smart Passive Income and Hashtag Authentic) which are really interesting for me. I studied communications and do a lot of work with social media in my day to day life and educating myself about it is always fun. If you haven't seen my Instagram page, check it out here or at @abbiestark in the app.

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 03/05/2017

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I can't believe it's May already. I know that this is very cliche but the year seems to be flying by. I'm just planning on enjoying the beautiful weather we have here in Rome until things really heat up for the summer and everyone stops working (July/August). After Monday, there are no more holidays in May and that feels kind of good.  April was such a crazy month with long weekends and lots of plans, but I'm looking forward to a productive month of work and with my best friend coming in 3 WEEKS!!

Looking forward...

What's new with Me:

All that said, there will be a lot of planning this month. I'm trying to expand my social outreach with the blog (with Facebook and Pinterest being priorities) and I would love to start making videos. I also really need to up my Italian grammar game and get cracking on the textbook I bought myself (nerd alert). Of course, day trips to the beach will be liberally sprinkled in throughout the month.

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Around Rome in May:

There are plenty of food festivals in Rome this month, with a food truck festival in Trastevere on the 5-7 and a wine festival (!!!) at Eataly on the 11-13. There's also a famous electronic music festival the weekend of the 25th called the Spring Attitude Festival, hosted at the MAXXI Modern Art Museum that I'm very interested in. Open all month is the Rose Garden near the Orange Garden Park that I've been wanting to go to for years! All in all, there's a ton to do this month and I want to check a lot of new things out.

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 26/04/2017

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After taking a break on Monday to celebrate the long weekend and Liberation Day in Italy, I'm back! There's been a lot going on with events around the city reaching a peak, due to the flurry of April holidays and days off. Here's a quick overview of my favorites and what I've been doing, eating, and planning.

DOING

In Rome, I've been taking frequent walks in the center to get outside in the sun. The city is starting to fill up with the summer tourist crowd and once again you can see people outside at all times of the day and night. My constant goal is to try as many new drink and food places as possible and experience the wide variety of Italian food that Rome has to offer. Most of the time I stick with classic Roman trattorias or pizzerias, but variety is the spice of life...

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We've also been taking many day trips in Lazio and in the country on these long weekends, which I love. There's nothing like the feeling of driving on Italian country roads with the windows open and seeing the amazing landscape. I really count myself lucky to have a car here because while I don't use it in the city (unless my boyfriend's driving at night) it's perfect when we want a last minute trip outside. Day trips also have the benefit of being much easier on my wallet as I'm saving up for summer holidays, usually requiring no more than half a tank of gas and €15 for lunch.

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EATING

On Sunday, I headed outside of the city with Edoardo to a sagra di cinghiale, where we ate pasta with boar ragu and stewed wild boar (I was more into the pasta than the straight mean but everything was good!) Going to sagras is always fun because the tiny towns that host them are full of locals who are so interesting. Tourists aren't common in these places so you can really get a feel for what rural Italian life is like. Plus the food is usually amazing, seasonal, and cheap.

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At home, we've implemented a once-a-week new recipe night, the goal of which is to perfect some of the classic Italian dishes we want to learn. Last week we started with Carbonara and this week, I went for asparagus frittata and pasta with artichokes. Picking up fresh produce at markets is so fun and inspires me to try new things and stop being so lazy in the kitchen.

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PLANNING

After cleaning off the entire balcony this weekend (involving 4 full bags of trash, cleaning out the drain pipe, scrubbing the pavement and one water fight) I'm so excited to spend more time out there. We love having friends outside in the summer and eating our meals there too. We really need another table for the space and some outdoor greenery to spruce it up. I'm thinking a couple of fruit trees and then lots of potted plants.

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At this point, everyone I know is planning out their summer holidays and deciding which seaside location to go to in August. We are booking tickets to the U.S. soon, which although they aren't the cheapest option for a summer trip, will give us both a couple weeks with my family. And after that, see if I don't try to snag a few days on the coast of Italy...

Weekly Favorites 12/04/2017

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This week we're gearing up for the food marathon that is Easter in Rome. After a fun pizza making party with friends Saturday night, we spent Sunday at a local market buying presents, eating gelato and drinking beer at the popup bars inside the market. The entire Italian culture of hanging out with your friends or strangers when the weather is nice, not really doing anything besides chatting and eating/drinking, is something that I fully support. It's so nice to enjoy life's small moments instead of always planning for the next activity. This weekend we have Easter and Pasquetta, the Monday after that's an Italian holiday. We'll be celebrating with chocolate, lamb and hopefully some time outside the city. Here's a look at Easter events in Rome this week, Buona Pasqua a tutti!

Listening

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I've been hearing all about Edoardo's trip to Luxembourg and how amazing he found the international culture there. So much that it might be time for a guest post ;) It's very interesting to hear how it compares to the Italian way of life and since he lived in London for a while, he can also compare this tiny city-country to a larger international counterpart.

On my own, I managed to finish up the entire 7 hour podcast S-Town in less than a week. It's made by the same producers of Serial (another favorite) and it's absolutely gripping.  The journalist's intuitive questions, high quality recordings of events, conversations, and interviews, and the superb editing make it a fantastic listen. Based on a small "shit town" in Alabama, the series follows the lives of several interesting characters and really probes into the deeper meanings of life. Not a light series, but definitely one that will get you thinking.

Reading

My favorite style blogger (Style Bee) is doing a fun clothes challenge right now, where she and her readers are trying to wear only ten items of clothing in 10 days. The 10x10 challenge is really interesting to me because I don't like having a lot of options anyways and it really forces you to be creative. Still to be seen whether I just give up and wear the same thing for two weeks.

I also wanted to give one of my favorite travel bloggers, C'est Christine, a quick shout out just because I'm loving her content recently. She does great weekly roundups and shares a lot about her life in NYC and travels around the world. Also her dog may just be the cutest thing ever.

Roman Neighborhoods: Rione Monti

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I spent a couple of days out in Monti last week and it's seriously one of my favorite spots in the city. I always recommend it to people who are looking for a different side to the city and want great food/drinks. Urbana 47 is always a favorite, with farm-to-table food and great drink choices, while I just tried the pizzeria Alle Carrette. It had decent Roman pizza and an authentic feel to it with a huge brick oven and employees that have been there forever.

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 05/04/2017

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With some visitors and appointments in the center of Rome, I've been all over place in the historic district and have revisited all of my favorite spots recently. The perfect 60-70 degree weather doesn't hurt either. All of the things I've so missed over the winter are all here again, including but not limited to: dining al fresco, daily cones of gelato, blooming wisteria and taking aimless walks around some of my favorite neighborhoods.

Trastevere

I've spent a lot of time in Trastevere, a tiny truly "historic" neighborhood in Rome where Italian families pass down their enviable apartments from generation to generation. It has some of the best restaurants, bars, and Instagrammable moments in the city. I finally tried out Da Enzo and had a 1.5 HOUR WAIT. It was worth it to get a taste of this classic Roman trattoria. Small piazzas litter the neighborhood and it's so easy to find a nice bar for an aperitivo outside. Just the best. I'm planning to write a more thorough review of Da Enzo al 29 and a Trastevere guide for anyone who's interested in learning more about either.

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Campo de' Fiori

Another Rome bucket-list moment was when I saw the Campo de' Fiori flower and food market this week because I made it to the center on a weekday morning at last. It was big, full of Italian food treasures and glorious.

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Life

In other news, I'm drinking orange and cinnamon tea, writing in my bullet journal and practicing being okay alone this week with my boyfriend out of town in Luxembourg. It's giving me some much needed practice being on my own, but I'm flexing my independence and Italian language skills so I'm doing okay.

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 29/03/2017

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It is officially SPRING in Rome and the weather is beautiful. This is an amazing time to visit the city (April-May) because the weather is almost perfect and you don't need to worry about super long lines everywhere. For me, living in a place where spring actually exists and isn't taken over by impending snowstorms is such a great time. Wearing lighter layers, spending more time outside at restaurants or in parks and taking trips outside of the city to hang out in the nature are all some of my favorite things.

To read:

Last week ended up being pretty relaxed without much going on besides a big family birthday on Saturday. We had a typical 4 hour multi-course lunch (accompanied by four different wines none the less) and were out late partying at night. Being hungover and very not into life because of the time change, I took Sunday as my opporutinuty to spring clean and organize my closet. It's actually always been one of my favorite things to do and I find it very therepeutic. Right now I'm really loving this spring cleaning series on iHeart Organizing and Lee's spring style on her blog Style Bee.

To listen:

Last week I posted about my weekend trip to Urbino, Le Marche and have some more content from the trip planned for Friday. Le Marche is such a gorgeous region of Italy that not many people get a chance to see. This American couple who moved from the US to Marche to start an agriturismo business are such an inspiration for me. I've been listening to their very funny, if a little long-winded, podcast about life in rural Italy from an ex-pat view and it's great.

Until Friday, ciao for now!

To look:

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la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

 

Weekly Favorites 21/03/2017

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In the week after my sister left, I've been trying to get back into the swing of things. It's like those post-vacations feels without the travel. There's been lots of reading, blogging, and organizing things around the apartment since our houseguest's departure. And I would like to report that her return journey went without a hitch but actually, she was lucky enough to get an overbooked flight, delayed departure and missing bag all in one!

For listening and reading, productivity has been the repeated theme this week. Somehow I'm recommending habit building to everyone, especially my English students as they try to create better study habits. I've revisited my favorite book on the subject, Better than Before by Gretchen Rueben. If you've ever wondered why it's so hard to start doing something and actually keep it up, this book's for you. The author breaks people down into four different personality types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages to building habits and routines. I'm also really liking this podcast by Pat Flynn and his Smart Passive Income, which gives tips on how to maximize your working hours and work smarter, not harder. Coming from a guy who's an expert on generating passive income (aka income that you're not constantly working to generate) it's worth a listen-------to even though it's a 2010 throwback.

In Italy-related news, Caroline and I took the first trip of the season to the beach at Civitavecchia and laid on the beach for hours reading. I can't wait until the weather is warm enough to spend weekends and days out at all of the amazing beaches near Rome. Longer trips down to Gaeta and Sabaudia are also in the works.

That's it, guys. Enjoy my pictures of Caroline's week in Rome, full of food and tourist attractions ;)

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 15/03/2017

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la vita roma Carolina is officially in Rome! The past few days have been a whirlwind as I try to show Caroline all the sites in Rome and with our weekend trip outside of the city. I'll definitely be posting more about it, but we managed to get to 4 different regions in two days (Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, and Abruzzo) and drove through everything from cities and mountains, to  the beautiful Italian countryside.

After such a busy weekend, we've been taking it a bit slower around Rome, hitting a few main attractions per day and stopping for plenty of gelato breaks. I think we've had 4 gelato's and a couple pizzas so far so we're doing alright. Tomorrow night we're checking out City of Wonder's ghost tour because Caroline is obsessed with all things paranormal. With an entire hour and a half dedicated to ghost stories and walking around Rome by night, it's a sure win. This Friday I'll have some more info on our trip to Le Marche (specifically Urbino and San Marino), but until then here are some lovely pictures from the week so far.

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 08/03/2017

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This week’s weekly favorites is dedicated to all the ladies out there for International Women’s Day! Since moving to Italy, I’ve noticed that the 8th of March here is much more widely celebrated than in the US, compared to Mother’s Day that’s more popular at home. Women’s Day here feels much more about girl power, feminism and general appreciation for women instead of a focus on moms (not that Mother’s Day should go ignored!)

But spending the day in a culture where women are celebrated with baked goods, memes from moms and with guys giving their special ladies flowers is a great feeling. Who says you need to be a mom to be appreciated for all of your hard work!

So in light of that, thank you to all the amazing women in my life who support me and this blog every week. For every retweet from my mom, comment from my Nina, long Facebook message of praise from Grandma or pasta post inspiration from my boyfriend’s Italian mamma, you’re what keeps me going.

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la vita roma

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la vita roma

Weekly Favorites 01/03/2017

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la vita roma Welcome to the first day of March and what will officially be known as "pizza month". After giving up milk for February, I am about to get on as much cheese, pizza, tiramisu, gelato and milky goodness as possible. And yes, I realize that I did the whole giving something up for Lent backwards, as today marks Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season. Oh well.

This week I've been madly planning for my sister's trip which is coming up in 10 days (!) and which still needs some researching. We've decided on a trip to Le Marche, a beautiful region of Italy on the east coast. And so the Airbnb stalking commences. I love to find apartments that are beautiful and characteristic of the destination, while obviously being budget friendly. Because we'll have a car, we have more freedom in choosing which city we want to stay overnight in (be it Urbino, Pesaro, or even closer to San Marino). If you're still wondering what all the Airbnb fuss is about, I highly recommend you sign up, get $20 off your first stay and be prepared to never book a hotel again.

Additionally, Edoardo and I are also deciding whether or not to make a trip to Luxembourg. He's going there for a few days for work and I'm thinking of flying there and meeting him for the weekend. Because we wouldn't have to pay for his flight or accommodations, it seems like a great option, but I'm still not convinced that Luxumbourg is worth a weekend trip of its own. If you've been there and loved/hated it, please let me know!

On another note, I've been binge listening to podcasts and have found some seriously good ones. Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids is pee-your-pants funny because it literally only features adults live reading their angsty teen and childhood journals. If you've ever cringed at rereading something you once wrote, you'll love listening to other people's most embarrassing memories too. The Budget Minded Traveler talks all about saving money while traveling and gives super helpful tips, while This American Life is one of the most well-known podcasts for a reason. They present multiple short segments following a single theme; they're all very interesting with compelling storytellers.

That's all for this week, aside from some gorgeous cinnamon-orange herbal tea that I've been loving! Things are getting crazy around here...

la vita roma

la vita roma

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la vita roma