Friday, August 30, 2013

Waking up to summer


This is the last weekend of August. What a harsh realization. I would like to say "time flies," but at the risk of sounding cliché, I won't. In any case, when we say time flies, it isn't really what we mean. It's not so much that time has really gone by quickly (getting to Fridays always takes forever!); it is more that we realize how long our thoughts have been elsewhere.

Summer has "flown by" for me because since May, my head has been a resident of various la-la-lands: maid-of-honour world, new job planet, travelling universe and moving-house territory.

For most of this summer, my mind has not been a conscious inhabitant of Rome. I have not, therefore, fully partaken in this Roman summer.



With the last weekend of August before me, I hear the fading echoes of "I am so excited for Rome in the summer!", words spoken back in May at the turn of the weather and the lengthening of the days. Those echoes got fainter and fainter the deeper and deeper I ventured into each of my other worlds. 

August 30 and I am just waking up. There is so much I haven't done! I've barely touched my list of Quintessential Roman Summer Musts, activities I need to do every year to put me in the summer spirit, like decorating a tree at Christmas. (Visitors will attest to this list because I make them do all these things too.)

It goes something like this: 

1. Lungo il Tevere Festival: http://www.lungoiltevereroma.it/  




2. Outdoor concerts at Villa Pamphili or Villa Ada
3. Opera at the Terme di Caracalla


4. Aperitivo at La Singhita on Fregene Beach


5. Granita di Caffe from Tazza d'Oro


6. Cioccolato Fondente gelato (let's face it, this is all year round)



7. Limoncello (preferably somewhere along the Amalfi coast)


8. Drinks at the Hotel Minerva Rooftop


9. Notte delle Stelle Cadenti (Night of the falling stars) at the beach on the festa di San Lorenzo (August 10) http://www.regioni-italiane.com/notte-di-san-lorenzo-0132.htm

10. Beaches (many of them)


11. Paddle boats at Bracciano lake

12. Watermelon Stands

13. Campari and/or Aperol Spritz


14. Icy dessert (the granita's cousin) from a Grattachecca

15. Festival at Castel Sant'Angelohttp://www.nottiacastelsantangelo.it/index_EN.php

16. Outdoor movie
The list is long, but there is so much more to do. Roman summers are really a wonderful time of year. And even nicer, summers here do often stretch into September or October. So hopefully, I am not too late to partake in some of these wonderful things that I have not yet managed to do.

So if you are in Rome but your mind is in a land far-far-away, may this be a reminder to snap back to earth and to make use of the long days, blue skies and warm sun.

And send any other Roman summer suggestions if you have them!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

For an out-of-city experience

I've spoken a lot about the importance of getting out of Rome for day trips. For me, it serves as a reminder that I am in Italy. So, I have been following my own advice and taking day trips to some of my favorite, "nearby" places in Italy. Behold:

My Top 7 Day-trip Destinations 

(less than 2 hours from Rome)

7. Bolsena





Distance from Rome: 1 hour 40 min.

Where it is located: Province of Viterbo, Lazio. On lake Bolsena (did you guess that?).

Why I love it: There is something about a small, scenic town (especially an Italian one) that is really serene. Maybe because there are fewer people there, maybe because calm water is pacifying, or maybe just because lakes in general have a soothing effect: Bolsena is a peaceful town. And it is particularly to my liking because it has a bit of a bohemian twist. There are a couple alternative-looking, Starbucks-be-gone-type of cafés equipped with antique furniture, books on vegetarianism or natural remedies and informative pamphlets on both. On the menu: loose-leaf teas and organic wine choices.


6. Capalbio




Distance from Rome: 1 hour 35 min

Where it is located: Province of Grosseto. Tuscany.

Why I love it: It is a very elegant little town. It has a great converted warehouse bar (café) and restaurant. I think I also loved it because of circumstance; running into this town on a coffee break saved us from another quasi 2 hour drive late at night coming back from Scansano when we couldn't find a single hotel with rooms available. (Tip: In July, it is better to book a hotel room than trying to find one impromptu). As a non-Italian, Capalbio isn't a town you would know existed. It keeps a low profile compared to the Hollywood/Rick Steves Italy and that is refreshing.

5. Orvieto





Distance from Rome: 1 hour 30 min

Where it is located: Province of Terni. Umbria.

Why I love it: Orvieto, in comparison, is probably in a Rick Steves guide; it isn't exactly a hidden gem any more, and it definitely fills to the brim with tourists in the summer months. However, if you go in the off-season (November- March), it is quite charming. And, in any month, its Cathedral is truly magnificent; the view of it from a distance really makes Orvieto stand-out.


4. Nepi 




Distance from Rome: 55 min

Where it is located: Province of Viterbo. Lazio.

Why I love it: I am not sure exactly, but it probably has something to do with the fact that its aqueducts go right through the city! In Rome, the mineral water, Acqua di Nepi, is also sold everywhere. I find it neat to see from where this water derives.


3. Anguillara Sabazia 







Distance from Rome: 50 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: Like Bolsena, Anguillara is a serene and beautiful town on a lake, Lake Bracciano. The dark blue water frequented by ducks, geese and swans makes you think you are in a far-off place, certainly not 50 minutes from Rome.

2. Trevignano





Distance from Rome: 52 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: Also on Lake Bracciano, Trevignano has a large boardwalk that starts with beaches on one end, winds past the town with restaurants with open-air terraces and ends with little boutiques, interesting shops and picturesque home fronts on the other end. Something about Trevignano makes me, the quintissential city girl, want a little house out in the country.

1. Nemi






Distance from Rome: 45 minutes

Where it is located: Province of Rome. Lazio.

Why I love it: My favorite. It is known as the town of fragoline, wild strawberries. There is a festival here every year, but even without the festival the small strawberry pastries, jams and other goodies are available for sale in all the town's stores. Nemi sits high on a volcanic lake and the view from above of this circular black water is enchanting. It is especially spectacular at night with the glowing orange of the street lamps. Nemi could be my fairytale city.


Any other day trip destinations I should check out?


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