One Day in Rome

The thing which never happens, has happened! On my upcoming trip to Italy I will have 24 full, unscheduled hours – all to myself.

No colleagues to entertain

No meetings to attend

No children to attend to

Just me, my map, and an ungodly amount of Frascati

I’ve visited Rome before, years ago, and after two weeks in Venice, Sienna, Cinque Terre, Bologna, and Florence I found it a sore disappointment: dirty, crowded, and overrun with tourists too lazy to do more than visit the big ten greatest hits.

But, Rome is the Eternal City for a reason. With a history that spans nearly 3,000 years Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Rome is commonly considered the birthplace of western civilization and was the capital city for the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

So, yeah, I get that it is important … but so is Detroit; I don’t exactly want to visit every Christmas.

In fact, I’ve always kind of considered Rome the Italian city that tourists visit when they don’t really take their time to research the beauty that is Italy (hence the endless brigade of tourists marching nose-to-tail behind a flag wielding tour guide).

As for my interests, want amazing ruins, visit Turino, want breathtaking chapels – Venice, and don’t forget the art, culture, and food that is Florence!

However, I recognize that I’m sorta … well … wrong.  In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy (which is exactly the type of description that would keep me away). But, people love Rome. People eat, pray, and love their way to Rome and back year after year.

Rome is ruination and reinvention, thriving, bustling, sleepy, and special.  There is no denying that moment when you walk around a corner and come face to face with iconic ROME – the Trevi fountain, the Vatican, Hadrian’s Arch, or any of a thousand other spectacular glimpses into the astounding history of this eternal city.

So, I am putting on my rose colored glasses (they fit quite nicely after a catastrophically shitty trip to Bali, strep throat in Istanbul, and a July heat wave in Shanghai) and prepping for the next great adventure.

My itinerary for one day in Rome:

1. Skip the Caesar Shuffle and the Vatican, I’ve been there and done that. Instead I’ll start the day with a leisurely stroll and cappuccino in Trastevere.

2. Then, I’ll continue across the Tiber to the Parthenon, a visit to the daily markets of the Campo De’ Fiori, and a stroll through the Piazza Navona .

3. After a full day of wandering, I’ll end the afternoon with the Dolce Vita stroll (as coined by travel guru Rick Steves) starting with a glass of wine and snacks at the Piazza del Popolo then a saunter down the Via del Corso and up Via Condotti to the Spanish Steps to surround myself with smooching lovers and that feeling of being painfully alone … for just long enough to make a Skype call home to my family as they settle in to their day.

And, hopefully, this time Rome will leave me aching to return, understanding what those nose-to-tail tour group tourists have been raving about for years.

One Year in Review

The LaBelleValise blog is now one year old.  This blog started as a travel log on all the places work, life, and wanderlust takes me and over the past year the adventure has been better than I hoped.

Here are a few of the highlightswpid-20141203_115451.jpg

Fine Dining at a Vegas Buffet

For Mother’s Day, I choose the time-honored tradition of leaving my children at home with Grandma and hitting Las Vegas, which, of course, includes a trip to the omnipresent buffets.

This year’s choice, Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace. Where for $45 one is given the opportunity to gorge on 500 small plate choices, a carving station, dim sum, sushi, breakfast classics, and of course – prime rib and crab legs.

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But this year, we’re doing it differently.  We’ve challenged each other to make the non-buffet, buffet. The dear husband and I will be taking turns creating a 21 course masterpiece, or beautifully plated and served breakfast (and not so breakfast delicacies).  The challenge, each of us is given a brief description and takes turns plating and bringing back to our den of gluttony (aka table) a lovely serving of the topic assigned.

Our Mother’s Day 21 course tasting menu:

  1. Fresh juices, fruit, honey & cheeses
  2. Antipasto/Charcuterie
  3. Amuse bouche – Black velvet pancakes & bacon
  4. Amuse bouche – Soufflé and breakfast meats
  5. Sushi, Pho, & Miso soup
  6. Salad & Fresh Vegetables
  7. Shellfish & Ceviche
  8. Soup and Breads
  9. Street Tacos & Mexican tastes
  10. Pasta
  11. Intermezzo (Gelato)
  12. Omelet & breakfast staples
  13. Assorted salads of Watermelon, mozzarella, tomato, and roasted beets
  14. The beef course with corn, carrots,  mashed potatoes & gravy
  15. Dim sum
  16. Fried & American Junk food: sliders, fries, tater tots, & mac & cheese
  17. Tapas
  18. Cookies & Cheese
  19. Cakes & Pies
  20. Ice cream, petit four & fresh juices
  21. Candy

I’d say we’re classing it up, except one can’t really call a three-hour champagne and calorie binge classy