When in Rome…

Let me take you back, not just to the summer of 2018 when we took our trip to Rome but to the summer of 1957. There was a young man named Tom Ripley and he had one talent, becoming someone else. If you haven’t gotten the reference by now, The Talented Mr. Ripley, is one of my favorite films, set in dreamy coastal Italy and most notable for its gorgeous cinematography and score by Gabriel Yared.

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If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend it. The cast is fabulous and it’s currently on Netflix. I wish I could time travel and visit Italy during the 1950s. It feels so romantic and stylish, I adore the fashion from the 1950s.

Our Airbnb was just five minutes from the famous Piazza Navona in Rome. We spent our morning searching for locations where the movie was filmed. Little did I know that using my phone to match the photos would make a glare from the sun that annoyed me, but you get the idea. Piazza Navona looks exactly the same from when the film was made twenty years ago. With exception to the giant Apple store advertisement on a building being renovated.

It took all our strength to not jump into this fountain!

We walked to a store and bought some groceries and stopped for a gelato. We could only find a small convenience store so the groceries were limited. Although they had a full olive bar, unfortunately, we don’t eat olives. So many shops sold every variety of pasta you could imagine however our Airbnb had no cookware and I was already burned out on pasta.

We spent the afternoon napping and enjoying the air conditioned bedroom while Antz did some work. Then we forced ourselves to take a walk and grab some dinner. It’s hard to find something good in our neighborhood due to all the obvious tourist traps, and I wanted shrimp fettuccine alfredo so bad. The place we chose looked legit yet had no idea what shrimp alfredo was but agreed to make me fettuccine pasta with shrimp.

So, check out what they served me after waiting 30 minutes in an empty restaurant. I didn’t eat one bite, it was ice cold like they took it out of the freezer and put it on a plate. The visibly irritated waiter tried to offer me something else but I didn’t have the energy to wait and I tipped him anyway. I had been in Rome for less than 24 hours and already had two horrible meals. I just don’t eat well when I travel. I have terrible luck with eating outside of the US. My palette is not at all refined. Don’t worry, I survived Rome on a lemon gelato diet. We took a nice evening stroll and I fell in love with this vintage movie poster shop but we have limited wall space in our apartment, I had to leave empty-handed.

At least I found some decent wine! It was a chill first day and the heat made it difficult to go out during the day. We waited until dark and took a lovely night stroll for more gelato although the temperature remained in the 80s.

It’s hard to be glamorous when you sweat off all your makeup from the humidity. I must admit, visiting Rome in the middle of the summer was not a wise choice. The city was overrun with tourists (imagine the worst stereotypical versions) it was unbearably hot and Rome is really a huge tourist trap, like you can’t walk down the street without guys trying to get you to come eat at their restaurant or buy something from their shop. I don’t like feeling accosted when I’m outside. Well, you live and you learn. I was happy to cross it off our travel list but my next visit to Italy will be during off-season and in a town that is not so popular (dying to go to Sicily!)

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Summer Roman Holiday

I can not believe it took me over 40 years to finally visit the amazing city of Rome! Antz and I traveled to Venice, Italy all the way back in prehistoric times of 1997. We didn’t even have cell phones or digital cameras back then. So, this trip was long overdue. We took the train from lovely, quiet Turino to bustling, crowded Rome in the evening.

As per usual on long train rides, I edit my photos, Liv snacks and reads and Antz plays on his phone or draws. We didn’t get a carrefour which is four seats facing each other but this seating was fine.

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It was tricky finding our way out from Roma Termini, which is enormous. My phone didn’t have service inside the terminal so we just guessed which direction to walk. The real side of traveling is dealing with the hot, overwhelming crowds and the frustration of navigating a new city. I try not to let it get the best of me but I am so much happier when I have a pre-booked car waiting for us or I can just call an Uber. Once I got service, we discovered that only Uber Black cars were available which is too expensive, so we walked in the dark to the bus stop.

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It was too damn hot to be lost. When the bun goes up, it’s serious business time.

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Our Airbnb was very cute, perfectly located near the famous Piazza Navona, had an elevator (we were on the top floor), an awesome balcony overlooking the square and AIR CONDITIONING in the bedroom! We were so happy in the apartment, since we had a late arrival my photos are pretty bad. I love a sexy wood ceiling.

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We were starving so we headed to the first pizzeria that looked the least crowded. I must say that for Italy being the pasta capital of the world, they really have terrible tourist trap restaurants all over Rome. You will not find anything impressive near the city center. The food wasn’t great but we were so tired and hungry, who cares.

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It was midnight by the time we finished eating so I thought it would be a good idea to check out the Trevi fountain since the crowds would have died down by then. We walked past some boring old buildings and not at all special landmarks that have existed since the time of antiquity, no big deal.

Ciao sweaty Lizzie!

Well, as you can see there is no perfect time to walk around Rome. It was still crowded and 90 degrees at midnight. Be we are in Roooooommmaaa!

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There she is folks… the Trevi fountain in all its glory.

It’s almost impossible to get a shot without someone in it at this fountain. The ground is covered in trash and you feel like you will get pickpocketed but we waited and found someone who looked trustworthy to get this shot. I hate to say it, this place is overrated. It felt artificial, like Las Vegas but dirtier. I won’t say to skip it but keep your expectations low.

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I am proud of this shot because I had to crop out so many heads and selfie sticks.

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Despite my poor reviews, the fountain is extraordinarily beautiful and full of coins (the money is collected daily and supposedly donated to poor charities).

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Lesson learned, no late night siteseeing after a long day of traveling, we were all cranky and my quest for the “perfect” family shot was in vain. We called it a night and happily went to bed with the air conditioner cranked on high.

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Ciao Rome!

Off to Torino, Italy

We landed back from Nice to Paris with only 48 hours to sleep, do some laundry and re-pack our suitcases, we hopped on a train at 5 am to the small town of Torino, northern Italy.

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Why did I choose to visit Turin? (Torino in Italian) Well, I was planning a summer trip to Rome but I discovered most of the trains were sold out of first class seats and it only was a five and half hour ride to Turin versus a grueling eleven hour ride to Rome. Then I found the cutest Airbnb rental for less than €100 for two nights!  I knew it was worth spending a few days in a smaller town before our week in Rome.

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This is my favorite meme

We took an Uber to Gare de Lyon at 5 am because it was too early to take the bus or Metro. Our train was scheduled to leave at 6:25 am so I may have overestimated our departure time. Spending an hour waiting, I never paid attention to how beautiful Gare Lyon is.

We had a long wait with no cafes open yet to get breakfast. Lucky for us, there was a piano in the station and talented folks treated us to a rendition of Dr. Dre and Amelie medleys.

We traversed this gorgeous lake somewhere in southeastern France for ages. I need to find out the name of this lake but I am guessing it could be lac d’Annecy. I want to go to there.

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We arrived at the Torino Porta Susa train station before noon. Let me say how much I appreciate a clean, not too crowded, easy to navigate train station like this one. We couldn’t use Uber so we walked to our Airbnb. It was unbearably hot so after 20 minutes, I was drenched and feeling grumpy. However, my mood lightened as we passed the beautiful buildings and quiet streets.

The city is so classic Italian and charming but also terribly hot. I was so relieved when we made it to our Airbnb and found an elevator in the lobby. It’s such a luxury in European buildings.

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That stained glass window was bellissimo! The street we stayed on was quiet in comparison to our lively street in Paris. I am sure Italians take siesta hour very seriously.

Wow, we actually had to use an old skeleton key, so delightful! Our apartment was small but splendid. It had the perfect mix of modern and old-world. I adore the stain glass window and arched ceiling.

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I loved the balcony (although it was too hot to hang out there) but lovely breezes.

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The bedroom had this lovely, ancient painted ceiling.

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It’s always weird to me that most homes in Italy have a bidet. I honestly never used one. Someone is going to have to show me a tutorial, I have so many questions!

Our Airbnb host was super cool, he gave Antz an ice cold beer upon our arrival.

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We needed lunch and gelato right away so we walked to the tram and headed to Old Town.

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I love the curtains for shade on the balconies. Torino is so lovely, all I was missing was a convertible Fiat 500 like this beauty.

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I really need to learn how to drive a manual transmission! I would drive this adorable car in a heartbeat if I fit inside.

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Did I walk into the 1950s? Look how cute the street lamps are!

Balcony goals!

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Prego Antz!

I can’t believe how incredibly beautiful this pharmacy is. I saw it on Pinterest and had no idea what the address was but it was easy to find.

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Italy has my heart with this Accidentally Wes Anderson signage.

Liv got peach, Antz got chocolate chip and I tried cantaloup. I can’t get enough Italian gelato. Ice cream is mandatory several times per day in the Italian summer heat.

So of course we arrived during the awkward afternoon time of 3 pm – 7 pm when most restaurants were closed. We walked for hours looking for anything open but we ending up having to wait hours before 7pm. I don’t know how to time our travels so that we don’t end up starving in the middle of the day but it always seems to happen. We stocked up on some water and fruit from a convenience store and went back to our Airbnb for a nap before dinner.

Guess who overslept?! We slept right through dinner so we were starving the next morning.

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Believe it or not, this was the first time the three of us brushed our teeth together at the same time. We all can’t fit together in our teeny bathroom in our apartment in Paris.

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Thank goodness we found a cafe that was open but it wasn’t the bacon and pancakes breakfast we were hoping for. We settled for orange juice and pastries.

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We left on a Sunday so most places were closed and it was brutally hot so we took the bus downtown to take some photos of Turin before our afternoon train to Rome. I was playing with the settings on my Nikon but as always, I ended up with blurry shots. D’oh!

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Even Lulu was sweating.

I wish we could have figured out how to rent a bike but we proceeded on foot.

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There’s something alluring about telephone booths, I suppose it’s the same appeal as a photobooth. It brings back nostalgia and I love the 1960s vibes. Also, how rad is that green mailbox. I love a good mailbox.

We loved these adorable tram cars. However, they weren’t going in our direction.

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We saw this roof in the distance so we walked towards it. This building is the Mole Antonelliana which is now a museum of cinema. It’s believed to be the tallest museum in the world however the access to the roof was closed so we just browsed the gift shop.

 

The store selling these paletas saved our lives. It was deathly hot!

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We took the bus back to our Airbnb and walked to the train station. We had a couple of hours to kill before our train so we hung out in a tiny shop with a little fan.

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Turin was charming, very quiet, less tourists and slower paced. I wish we were able to try some food but we never seem to time it right. So 48 hours later, we were off to Roma.

Arrivederci Torino!

Summer Vacation: Nice for What

We headed down south of France for our summer vacation to sunny Nice. We were excited to visit our dear friends from LA who moved there a few months after we did for a year-long job. I was also excited to find that our friends Louise and Florent (our house swappers) were also there for the summer. We discovered that no one stays in Paris during August due to the extreme heat (and lack of air conditioning) and the flood of tourists. Instead of taking the train, we flew because it’s less than two hours flight and I found tickets on Air France for about €60 each. I couldn’t find any available house swaps that were located close to the beach so I found an Airbnb one block from the beach. I would have preferred to do a house exchange but Airbnb was the least expensive option I could find. There were insane mansion rentals with private pools that were driving distance to the beach that were up to €1,000 per day! Our Airbnb was a studio apartment that was clean, compact and most importantly, it had a pool and air conditioning (Liv and Antz must-haves).

Our flight from Paris was super easy and quick. Our rental was only a fifteen minute Uber ride from the airport.

 

We had to wait ages for our host to let us into the apartment and we were dripping with sweat, so as soon as we dropped our bags off, Liv and I changed into our bathing suits and jumped right into the pool. Antz had to start work but he was in heaven with the freezing cold air conditioning.

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After a few hours of Liv jumping into the pool like a mad woman and me getting sunbaked, Liv and I showered and we all decided to find a place for dinner. The neighborhood we were in barely had any restaurants nearby and everything I saw was closed. It was around 6:30 pm so we were starving. I found an Italian restaurant on Yelp so we took the bus to Old Town Nice.
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We got off the bus at the wrong stop so we walked for several blocks and found Old Town a little after 7 pm so we had a wait awhile to be seated. Did I mention it was blazing hot?
At first glance, I wasn’t impressed by the menu and the staff seemed to ignore us. All was forgiven when they finally brought out our food.
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This was my first authentic Mediterranean meal and it was DELICIOUS! I am not exaggerating when I say it was the best pasta meal I ever had. I loved it so much, we ended up eating at this restaurant several times during our stay. I even ordered it to go a few times. I don’t know how they made such a simple plate of shrimp alfredo so perfect but I wish I could have some right now. Antz had spaghetti and Liv had pizza as always. They weren’t blown away as much as I was.
By the time we finished our meal, Liv and I had to go to the bathroom. By now, we have gotten used to sharing a tiny European bathroom stall so I asked Liv to hold my iPhone for me. Well, my clumsy self ended up accidentally knocking Liv’s hand and she dropped my iPhone in the toilet! Before I could react Liv screamed like someone got shot. I was so worried about calming her down I just stuck my hand in the toilet and grabbed it. Luckily it was before we used the bathroom. It was half funny and half traumatic. Antz was quick to point out that I had an iPhone 8 (which was brand new) so it’s water toilet proof.
We went to wait for the bus however we noticed no one was waiting with us and it was close to 9 pm so we agreed the buses stopping running by then so we decided to walk back to our rental. It was a beautiful and breezy walk back along the Promenade des Anglais next to the beach. We didn’t realize it was over an hour walk but it was so nice out, we didn’t mind.
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Our first day in Nice was chill. I honestly didn’t think it was that pretty of a city as I expected but I later found out we were staying on the wrong part of town closer to the airport in a more tourist area.
Day two is when we found the true beauty Nice had to offer.
I used the hashtag #niceforwhat for our trip on my Instagram. If you are old and lame like me this is what the kids were listening to last summer! Apparently, it’s a bop.