Florence: Visiting the Uffizzi

I’ll tell you right off the bat – I don’t really care for Renaissance art. I’m mostly interested in art from the last two centuries or so. The Renaissance is just not my style. I know, I know, I’m a barbarian. But the art just seemed so repetitive and boring – Madonna and child, Madonna and child, Madonna and an even fatter child, portrait of rich person, portrait of rich person, portrait of ugly rich person, fat cherubs, biblical scenes, blah blah blah.

I wasn’t even going to visit the Uffizzi, but people looked at me the way you look at someone who tells you they don’t like crême brûlée. (Like a crazy person.) So I changed my mind.

I met two badass girls in Rome named Leah and Stella. Leah said that she felt the same way about Renaissance art, but that the Uffizzi was still something to see. She gave me a couple really helpful tips which made my four hours at the museum (yes, four hours!) go smoothly.

Continue reading “Florence: Visiting the Uffizzi”

Florence: First Impressions & Travel Resources

I took the bus to Florence because it’s cheaper, and it’s only three hours from Rome which doesn’t feel long anymore. It was hot in Rome but the storm was just starting to break as I left the bus station in Florence. The men who peddle umbrellas and those colorful plastic bag ponchos seized the opportunity to pounce on anyone caught in the rain unprotected.

img_1401

Continue reading “Florence: First Impressions & Travel Resources”

Eating my way through neighborhoods of Rome: Monti, Trastevere, Testaccio, and more

I don’t know what to tell you about Rome. I didn’t do the things you’re supposed to do. Shannon and I agreed we would definitely skip the Vatican because we’ve both been before, and while we might pop by and wave hi to some of the famous monuments from the outside, there was no way we were waiting in line to go in.

IMG_0324

Continue reading “Eating my way through neighborhoods of Rome: Monti, Trastevere, Testaccio, and more”

Ciao from Italia!

Hi! I’m in Italy! I’ve been eating my way through Rome, Florence, and Bologna and I’m exhausted! I haven’t spent much time in Italy in the last ten years (with the except of a January weekend getaway to Turin) and it’s been so much fun to be here. I love having a morning espresso standing up at the counter and trying to speak Italian. 

Each city had its own distinct vibe – I couldn’t tell you which was my favorite. I fell in love with the Monti neighborhood in Rome but was overwhelmed by the tourist hordes elsewhere in the city. Florence had its own tourist crowd but it was easier to escape the city center, so it didn’t feel as suffocating. I loved finding little spots for cheap eats, and visiting a few major attractions (they lived up to the hype). 

Bologna was the perfect antidote after a week in cities occupied by tourists – it’s a city of locals, gritty, delicious, Italian. I had the best pasta of my life and people actually gave me the chance to speak the little Italian I know. In Florence, everyone in the city center spoke English right off the bat without bothering to find out if you spoke Italian or not, which I found incredibly irritating. We’re in Italy, at least let me try to practice what Duolingo and Bellini taught me! 

I’ve been keeping some notes along the way in hopes of writing a more thorough blogging account once I’m back in Lyon. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything I have to say, or just with life in general, and I don’t get around to blogging about everything I’d like to. Let’s see if I can catch up this summer, shall we? 

   
    

    
   

I hope your summer is off to a good start, wherever you are!

Weekend in Turin

There was really no reason not to go to Turin. I didn’t have to teach for another two weeks because winter vacation is super long, bus tickets were cheap, and since when do I turn down a chance to go to Italy?

We convened way too early to get the 6:30 a.m. bus at Perrache in Lyon. Shannon was pretty like a flower as usual, and I looked the way I imagine bears look when someone interrupts their hibernation before spring.

At first I was wary of the five hour bus ride, but the bus was actually really comfortable, and one of those five hours was spent at a rest stop in the middle of the alps (bus drivers have to pee too). Now I’m an IDbus fan. It’s not the speediest but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the train.

I can’t say I fell in love with Turin, but it was fun to get out of France for the weekend and visit the land of aperitivo.

Some highlights…

Aperitivo

I feel like aperitivo was 32% of the reason we went to Italy. Many restaurants and bars offer a complimentary buffet with the purchase of a drink in the evening. Maybe it was love of food, maybe love of free stuff, but we were super excited about the prospect of aperitivo.

Most places seemed to charge between seven and ten euros for aperitivo. The buffet we tried wasn’t out of this world, but hey, dinner and a drink for ten euros isn’t bad. (Any local tips for aperitivoing like a boss, Italy-dwellers? We may have done it wrong.)

I had imagined myself sipping Aperol spritzes, but then I realized I hate Aperol. It looks red and juicy, but it’s bitter! So I let Shannon get her Aperol on, and I stuck to prosecco.

Aperitivo Turin La Vie En C Rose

Zuccherini at Clorophilla

After aperitivo and before late night Belgian fries was Clorophilla. It’s a trendy bar that looks like a jungle cave and serves fresh fruit cocktails and shots. Its signature drinks are made with an herb-infused alcohol called Genepy.

The tables on the sidewalk outside were great for a) resting our tired feet after all the city strolling we did, and b) people watching! We saw very few people in their 20s and 30s, but it was fun to see 40 and 50 somethings and teenagers at the same bar. We decided that all the Italian teenage boys seemed to dress the same (jeans, sneakers, jacket) and put too much gel in their hair. Black thick-soled boots and heels were clearly a trend among the girls. Just a couple hours over the border, but so different from France!

So, the zuccherini. It made me think of zucchini, but then I realized that “zucchero” is sugar. Zuccherini are really, really strong fruit alcohols served in a tiny cup with a sugar cube. We tried violet and lavender, not sure what to expect. We tossed them back. They were tasty. Then the 90 proof alcohol hit, our eyes watered, and the bartenders urged us to “chew! chew the sugar!” which we did, frantically. Then we took selfies to remember the moment. I won’t be sharing those here. Here’s a weirdly-lit photo of alcoholic fruit instead.

Turin Clorophilla La Vie En C Rose

Eataly

Sunday was mostly spent at Eataly. It is a giant emporium of food. I bought a mini cheese grater, which may seem odd for someone who doesn’t eat cheese, but it was an inch and a half tall and I thought it was delightful. Also, I had prosecco with lunch.

Because you can eat lunch in Eataly! And then get gelato for dessert.

But do you know what Eataly didn’t have? Mozzarella. At all. Come back on Monday, they said. Let me just reiterate that the enormous Italian food store that has all the Italian food items you could imagine was entirely out of mozzarella cheese. How did that happen? Pizza party bandits?

It was quite easy to get to Eataly on the metro (which is pristine). We walked through a mall to get there, and we saw children and parents riding what looked like giant furry wind-up animals. Didn’t know quite what to make of that!

IMG_1211

Um, anything else?

We were in Turin for less than 48 hours, and it was January. Most of our time was spent eating, strolling, and attempting to communicate in Italian.

Turin Tabacchi La Vie En C RoseTurin bikes La Vie En C RoseTurin Street art La Vie En C RoseTurin La Vie en C RoseTurin piazza Pixlr La Vie En C Rose

Have you written about Turin? Please share a link! I had a tough time finding local tips in English.

I’m dying to go back to Italy – I’m considering Florence, Bologna, Rome, Naples, the Adriatic coast, or maybe the Ionian… help! Where are you favorite places in Italy?

Italy blogs I love: Where’s Zoe Now, Ms. Adventures in Italy