Falling for Food

Get it? Because it’s autumn, my favorite season, which calls for lame puns and posts about fab food! 🙂

So I’ve been in the fascinating city of Rome for over a month now. Crazy how time flies when you’re adjusting to a new place. During my time here, I have managed to scope out and try out some cozy cafes, yummy restaurants, and delicious gelaterias. I’m currently sitting in one funky cafe right now as I write this blog post, so we’ll see if the atmosphere makes for quality writing as I share with you my favorite spots in Rome so far.

Must Eat Gelato

If you are in the Eur district of Rome, then you need to treat yourself to Gelarmony. Like, right now. It is a pay and walk away gelateria, charging only 2 euros and fifty cents for a small that comes with three flavors. Not many gelaterias give you the option of three flavors in a small. This tiny shop also makes all of its gelato in house, and it’s heaven in a cup or inside a croissant or on a cone, whichever you prefer. Personally, I highly recommend the cannoli and pistachio flavors (these are by far the most popular and for good reason), although I’ve never gotten a bad flavor here. Just the other day I tried the raspberry lemonade (definitely made me pucker up) and the chocolate pear (that actually had pear pieces mashed into it). So pick your poison and go for a stroll in the large park across the street.

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If you are near the Trevi Fountain, you should check out Gelateria Valentino. This gelato shop has received many awards over the past few years for its homemade goodies. There are many flavors to choose from, including some interesting fruit ones, but above all, I recommend the oreo and mint flavors here. The location is a prize in itself as well because you can stroll through the beautiful ivy side streets after stopping at the Trevi Fountain.

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Service at both of these establishments is top notch! They are super nice to nonnative Italian speakers, sharing a big smile and usually a gelato sample or two.

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Must Eat Takeaway 

If you are near the Spanish steps and hunting for some mouthwatering homemade pasta, check out Pastificio Guerra. It’s a tiny shop, but hopefully the line out the door stops you from walking right by it. For only four euros, you get a to go container of pasta (picking from two different choices daily). The line may seem daunting, but it moves quickly. And even though its cramped with a lot of people, if you stay inside, you get free water and wine. Score! Also, you can purchase their dried pasta in bags as a souvenir to take home with you.

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Egg pasta with a creamy zucchini sauce. Yum!

If you are back in my hood Eur, you should grab an arancini (similar to suppli, just bigger) from I Siciliani while you shop on Viale Europa. They have all different flavors of fried rice balls, but my favorite is the pistachio one. Sounds strange, I know, but try it. I either grab one of these on my walk home from the gym (healthy, right?) or a cornetto from the 24 hour cafe Conca D’oro down the street. If you have a sweet tooth instead of a salty craving, then pay one euro for a cornetto (varying pastries) there. My go to one is a flaky croissant filled with nutella. Yes, such a fantastic thing does exist.

 

Must Drink Cafes

If you want to sip on a daiquiri or martini named after your favorite author or literary character, then pop by Libreria Mangiaparole for an afternoon of reading, writing, or conversing. I went for a book club meeting and tried the Hemingway Daiquiri, and it was definitely more spirits than cherry. The cafe itself has a hipster vibe that I can appreciate and occasionally hosts events like language exchanges and trivia nights. The owners were very welcoming, accommodating our large group easily and inviting us back for our next meeting.

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Currently, I am hanging out at Anticafe. I knew nothing about it except the name was intriguing, so I hopped off the metro at San Giovanni and arrived here after walking a short block. I was greeted when I walked through the door and was offered a time card because this place doesn’t charge for drinks or snacks. It charges four euros per hour (one euro for every 15 minutes), and you can drink/eat whatever you like while you’re there. They also have free printing. How cool is that? I have been munching on some cookies, trying different fresh squeezed juices, and typing away at this post. Needless to say, I will totally be coming back whenever I need to get a few hours of work done on the computer.

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Bonus, free wifi is offered at both of these cafes!

Must Eat Aperitivo

I have participated in many aperitivos during my time here, but the only aperitivo I’ve tried that’s worth mentioning is the one at The Beer Oasis or L’Oasi della Birra in Testaccio. For those of you that do not know (like me when I first showed up), participating in an apertivo is when you purchase a drink (usually around 8-12 euros) and are provided free snacks (basically an unlimited buffet). Not only were there several pasta, rice, meat, and veggie options, but they also offered deserts! The restaurant is a maze, especially to find the food line, but I find that to be part of its charm. We sat downstairs in a small stone enclave with cushions on the benches and wine bottles surrounding us on the shelves. The Beer Oasis left us with full bellies and big smiles.

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As always, thanks for reading! 🙂 Please feel free to ask a question or leave a comment. I would love to hear more recommendations on places I need to eat/drink at while I’m here. Will post more about my specific adventures soon!

 

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More SupplĂŹ Please

Has it already been two weeks since I left the United States? I can’t believe how quickly the days have passed since I touched down in Rome, Italy.

My first weekend was spent getting settled in my apartment in EUR, Rome. EUR is currently a residential and business district of Rome that originally was created for Mussolini’s 1942 world fair to celebrate twenty years of fascism (which never happened because of WWII). Its well known landmark is the cube shaped colosseum that overlooks the surrounding neighborhood. I found a grocery store that sells peanut butter (priorities people), a gym that’s within walking distance (notice how I mentioned the peanut butter first), a beautiful park with a lake that’s just around the corner, a shop that sells homemade cannoli gelato that I wish was farther away so I wasn’t tempted to go every night, and a conveniently located bus stop in front of my building that takes me directly to work. The family I am staying with has welcomed me with open arms; I really don’t think I could have gotten any luckier when finding a place to stay–a temporary home– people and places that already have a piece of my heart.

After spending my Sunday wandering around the downtown area of Rome, getting lost amongst the cobble stone streets, Monday rolled around. My first day of work was brilliant! I absolutely adore the after school academy where I teach. Each age group has an individualized classroom to best meet the needs of the Italian students. My first week was full of planning various lessons and prepping the different rooms. My bosses have been so generous, introducing me to their relatives, giving me guidance on the surrounding area, and feeding me delicious pasta when I forgot to pack a lunch. Without them, my transition would not have gone as smoothly.

On my second weekend, I was a bit more adventurous. I hopped on the local train and rode it out to Ostia, a beach town that has 2000 year old ruins in its outskirts. Ostia Antica used to be the port city of ancient Rome. I spent more than two hours climbing over fallen stone, ducking under archways, and avoiding dangling cobwebs. The size of the archaeological site is huge; I barely saw half of it before I gave up, vowing to return another day with renewed energy and snacks, and ventured to the nearby beach to prop my feet up in a lounge chair. Ostia is often overlooked when visiting Rome because it is out of the city center, but I would highly recommend spending a morning or afternoon touring this gem if you have a few days in Rome.

This past week was my first official week of teaching at the Greenhouse English Academy. I had both private and small group classes; the students’ ages ranged from three to thirteen years. The students were mostly timid but I’m sure that won’t last long. The curriculum I am teaching is interesting at every level, which is quite a blessing. I’m encouraged to incorporate songs, crafts, and games into the lessons, which is fun for everyone! 🙂 The week went smoothly; my easiest first week of teaching yet! Maybe after two years I am finally getting the hang of this crazy, wonderful thing called teaching? To celebrate, I treated myself to some pizza and gelato of course!

This old city is full of beautiful and interesting finds; I am looking forward to continued exploration over the coming months. Hopefully soon, I will be that person who can tell you where to find the best carbonara or mouthwatering supplĂŹ. Or at least, hopefully soon I will be able to respond in Italian without making a fool of myself.

Thanks for reading and supporting me on my Italian adventure! If you have any recommendations or questions, feel free to drop a comment below. I always love hearing your feedback! Cheers! 🙂

Ciao Rome 

Hello my readers! I am off again! This time I’m headed to Rome, Italy to teach and learn. Currently, I am sitting at the airport by my gate, playing the usual waiting game. When it comes to travel, there are so many highs and lows, sprints and pauses, news and olds. I’m hoping to continue sharing my abroad experience with you all through my blog. Thank you for your support and continued reading! As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to drop a comment on the post. 😊 

Until Next Time

On this breezy Sunday afternoon, Emily and I wandered the winding streets of Casco Viejo reflecting over the past nine months as we snacked on pintxos and sipped fruity wine. We delayed the conclusion of our meeting reminiscing over our favorite trips, contemplating what we will miss about Spain, and sharing our excitement for returning to the States soon. As the hour struck and we parted, I realized that today was the first of many ‘farewell for now’s.

They say that April showers bring May flowers…but what about everything else that drifts in and out with May? Shouldn’t there be some warning with the happy go lucky saying? Like, not only do you get May flowers but expect the month to turn your world into a giant storm of worry and wonder until you’re exhausted from wishing and waiting for weeks. It’s not as catchy, but it’s definitely more straightforward about all of the change that comes with May. And why isn’t there a clever quote about June? June is the conclusion of spring and the start of summer. June is a month of change just as much as May is; an ending and a beginning.

For the past several years, May and June have been months of endings. Five years ago, I graduated from Clarksville High School. Four years ago, I said adios after spending my first month abroad in Spain. Three years ago, I hugged my first group of GSH scholars goodbye. Two years ago, I graduated from Austin Peay State University with a B.S. in English Literature. One year ago, I concluded my first year of teaching at Clarksville High School. This year, I completed my Expert in Bilingual Education course and first year of teaching ESL in Spain.

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Oldies but goodies!

For the past several years, May and June have been months of beginnings. Five years ago, I was accepted into Austin Peay State University. Four years ago, I hopped on a plane and began my first Spanish adventure abroad. Three years ago, I began my journey as a GSH counselor in Neverland. Two years ago, I was hired as a ninth and tenth grade English teacher at Clarksville High School. One year ago, I was selected into the Meddeas program in Spain. This year, I was offered a TEFL job in Rome, Italy.

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Oldies but goodies!

May and June are full of growth, doors opening and closing. No other months seem to carry so much weight as these sixty-one days of blooming springtime. May and June terrify me. May and June excite me. A fluttering fills my chest as I hold my breath through the waves of these months. May and June are both promising possibilities and inevitable endings. They are truly magical, and I’ve always been a sucker for fairytales. So as I pack my suitcase and mull over my nine months spent in Spain, I am preparing myself for a bittersweet rest of June. The next few weeks will be filled with happiness and melancholy, hellos and goodbyes, the new and the old. And just in case, during this upcoming whirlwind of moments, faces, and places, I don’t have a chance to express my gratefulness, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been apart of my journey so far. Here’s to the next chapter! 🙂 Cheers!

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Mundaka to Bermeo

“And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy, and your eyes sparkling” is one of the quotes I’ve tried to live by during my time abroad this past academic year.

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On Saturday after my workout, I tagged along to some coastal towns with my friends Susan and Emily. Our first stop was in Mundaka, a surfer’s paradise. Apparently, it is home to one of the longest left-hand waves in the world (I wish I knew more about surfing in order to properly appreciation this aspect of the small town). Although I didn’t take advantage of the surfing scene because balancing on a board while salt water crashes all around me does not seem enjoyable, I did find Mundaka quite enchanting for other reasons. The port provides lovely views of the surrounding lands and water. The Santa Catalina Hermitage, a nineteenth century shelter located on a cliff on the outskirts of town, also provided amazing views of the ocean and mountains. The Mundaka BC (Basque Country) store exhibited local artists’ photos as well as sold Basque products, including various clothes, shoes, and accessories. I bought a yellow shirt that Susan found in a discounted bin for my Mundaka souvenir. A good twelve euros spent supporting the local Basque country artists!

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Mundaka’s Santa Catalina Hermitage

We followed the walking path from Mundaka to Bermeo, a thirty minute trek along the rock littered coast, which continued to amaze us with its gorgeous views. Once in Bermeo, we enjoyed some yummy calamari, shrimp, and croquettes at one of the port cafes. Our lunch view was of the towering colorful buildings escalating up the hill of the old part of Bermeo. To walk off our lunch and make room for oreo and kinder gelato, we walked along one of the most important fishing ports in Basque Country, admiring the myriad of commercial boats while attempting to balance on the giant metal wave.

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Olatua ~ “The Wave”

Before catching the bus back to Bilbao, we entertained ourselves by guessing the meanings of the Basque titles of the abstract sculptures in Lamela park. When translated, the titles of the twisted metals had a range of different meanings, like moon fairy and black goat. My favorite out of all the artworks was The Warrior; if you look closely, someone drew a smiley face on the left side. 🙂

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I returned home from a Saturday afternoon spent breathing in the salty air of the Bay of Biscay sunburnt and worn out. And honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Sure, sunblock would have been advantageous, but a little extra color gives me the warming reminder of my fun day spent with friends under the Spanish sun.

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Adventures are never perfect nor are they always the expected outcome. Adventures can be challenging, yet those are usually the most rewarding. Adventures can be spontaneous or well planned; I’ve definitely had my fair share of both while in Spain and I couldn’t choose which ones have been more successful. But I do know that these adventures, no matter how big or small, make life exciting! So if at the end of the day, you aren’t a little smarter or exhausted or amazed or frazzled, then did you really live your day?

Rome, Italy: my next big adventure!

I will be moving to Rome for the next academic year! 🙂 Surprise! Super excited! With the conclusion of the Meddeas program fast approaching, I decided to mix it up and apply for English teaching jobs in different countries, my first pick being Italy. I absolutely adored Rome when I visited a few months ago, so I put it at the top of my list to explore more. Most academies in Italy immediately turned me down because I was not an EU citizen and would need to apply for a work visa, a lengthy process that most schools avoid like the plague. However, one academy decided that I’m worth the extra hassle, and I am so thankful they have given me this opportunity. Now I can say for certain where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing this upcoming fall; I will be teaching English to various aged children at the Greenhouse English Academy in Rome while taking Italian language courses and also second language acquisition related courses, which credits I can apply to my future master’s degree. Yay!

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When in Rome, reenact the Lady and the Tramp scene.

In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, here is a post about my first visit to Italy. Chris and I flew into Rome on Friday evening, where we kicked off our Valentine’s weekend getaway with some good ole Italian cuisine at Al Tettarello. We started with an assortment of bruschetta and then split a salami pizza and plate of mushroom fettuccine. All the people who have preached to me before about fresh pasta being heaven were not lying. Sooooo good! We didn’t even wait to take a picture of the masterpieces set in front of us before digging in. If you’re in the Monti district of Rome (or just in Rome in general), I highly recommend making this restaurant one of your eating stops. Our final meal in Rome ended up being here as well because it was just so yummy!

With our bellies full, we wondered around the Monti district, viewing the Colosseum at night. What a magnificent sight! The play of lights and shadows was beautiful. It blew my mind that in Rome we could walk past a ruin that was over 2000 years old and it was no big deal. People passed it daily on their commute to work. That will be me next year!

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Low quality picture of a high quality experience.

On Saturday, we began our morning at the Spanish Steps with a free walking tour. The tour itself was informative and hit major scenic spots in the downtown area, including the Pantheon. It was an incredible experience walking around such an amazing building. Again, I was blown away by the ancientness of it all.

Next, we visited the Colosseum and the surrounding ruins of the Roman Forum. Wow! Just wow. Not only being able to see but to touch and feel the history was such an incredible experience. I mean this is a city that can’t even construct a new metro line because they keep finding more and more ruins. We got lost for a few hours weaving through all of the fallen columns, partially existing rooms, and well conserved paintings. There was so much to see it overwhelmed us.

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Please ignore the plastic bag…it was keeping the street art we bought safe and sound.

We, of course, participated in the Italian aperitivo, where we sampled various Italian foods buffet style for solely the price of our drink. Amazing! We ate way too much suppli and gelato as well. Italian food has definitely captured the attention of my taste buds, and I can’t wait to explore more of the cuisine when I return in September.

If you have any tips for me during my future extended stay in Rome, I would love to hear them! 🙂 Thanks for reading! Cheers!

**Because it was a holiday during the weekend we were there, the Vatican was closed so no museum or chapel for us. On the plus side though, the Pope was giving a speech in celebration of the holiday so the Colosseum was pretty empty!

A Flower among the Flowers

On Saturday, I hopped on a bus with my tres amigas and headed to Burgos, Spain. Upon arrival, we quickly realized that the city was having a special three day flower festival. Surprise! Random themed displays of artistically placed flowers were scattered across the city. Needless to say, I was a Flowers on a scavenger hunt for flowers. 🙂

There were all different kinds of inspiration for the displays including 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Mary Poppins, Marvel Super Heroes, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Aladdin, Frozen, and Beauty & the Beast. Even with all of the variety, my favorite of the whole bunch of twenty displays was Alice in Wonderland! Not only was it the grandest show of flowers, taking up an entire plaza, but it was also the most creatively executed.

Now before you think that I spent my entire eight hours in Burgos looking at flower displays, let me clarify. I also toured the castle’s ruins, sported a hard hat to explore underground tunnels, stared in awe at the cathedral’s many diverse chapels, ate a yummy menu del dia of local food, and educated myself at the Human Evolution Museum.

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The magnificent and giant Cathedral of Burgos

Saturday was full of  jam-packed fun! 🙂 If you’re traveling in Northern Spain, Burgos is a wonderful place to stop for a day. Be sure to eat the traditional lamb dish while you’re there. If you have any questions about my travels, feel free to ask in the comments below. Cheers!

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Thanks for the fantastic day, Burgos!

Side note: good luck to all those hiking the Camino de Santiago! I saw many backpackers from all over the world traveling through the city on Saturday, making their way on their spiritual trek. If you aren’t familiar with the Camino de Santiago, it’s a long journey ending in Santiago de Compostela. As long as you walk a minimum of 100km, you will receive a certificate of accomplishment at the final destination. Exciting!

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The main route and various branches of the Camino de Santiago