Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When in Rome


I never really wanted to visit Rome. 

I love Paris since it's so pretty and I enjoy quieter parts of Italy, but Rome is such big city, difficult to navigate, with a reputation for a plethora of pickpockets. 

I was worried about traveling there. But I signed up for a foodie tour of Rome last summer when the idea seemed much more enticing than it did a couple of weeks ago when I packed my bags to leave in the middle of March.

The tour leader arranged our accommodations in apartments in the Monti neighborhood, sandwiched between the Forum and the Colosseum.






It couldn't have been a prettier spot. 

My first afternoon, I wandered around the corner from my apartment, and stopped short when I looked up and saw the ruins of ancient Rome right in front of me.

I suppose Romans have grown so used to these pieces of the past that are part of their daily landscape that they barely take note as they go about their normal lives.

But as a first-time visitor to Rome, I was more captivated than I expected to be.





The entire city tells the story of humanity. 

The monuments, the cobblestone streets, the crumbling walls, the ruins that have have been built, rebuilt and built again. New buildings constructed on old foundations.

Century after century, through wars and bitter struggles, what remains is the evidence that the people of Rome have continued to have hope and the courage to persevere, despite extremely difficult circumstances.






The churches on just about every corner confirm the faith that has woven the hearts of humankind with the divine aspirations of God for us, from the beginning of time.

Some churches looked so ordinary on the outside, I couldn't imagine how they could contain the soaring ceilings and house the magnificent art inside. 

Like the non-descript and practically hidden away church of St. Peter in Chains that holds the sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo.





Even though I couldn't take photos on my very limited and heavily supervised 15-minute visit to the Sistine Chapel {with more people than I could imagine crowded into such a small space}, there was spectacular art in every church to take pictures of.

Many of the churches open their doors without admission fees, inviting visitors inside to contemplate God, consider the art and experience what residents of Rome have the joy to behold every day.  

And of course there was the food. I was on a foodie tour of Rome, after all. 





I was a novice foodie compared to the other tour-goers, whose vast knowledge of Roman gastronomy provided lively conversation around the table. 

I didn't have much to contribute to their tales of high cuisine and culinary adventures from around the world, and sometimes I wondered what I was doing there, but I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I timidly tasted a plate of crispy curly chicory topped with anchovies, ate pasta with lamb sauce, and even tried a forkful of wild boar. 



But I drew the line and declined the slices of dried goat meat. Especially since I’d just petted them the day before on a visit to a goat farm in Umbria. 

{Don’t worry, they weren’t the same goats.}

I savored every crispy leaf of an entire fried artichoke {which is extremely difficult to make look appetizing in a photo}, dug into creamy bowls of pasta, and on one of my free days, I even revisited a restaurant from the tour for a second plate of their zucchini fries spritzed with lemon.





And there were cappuccinos. A lot. I had one every day, sometimes several times a day.

Coffee is a work of art in Rome.

Even the convenience store and gas stations serve a gorgeous cup of coffee.

I'm a girl who likes a grande mug or two {or three} of American coffee every morning, and I did yearn for it from across the ocean. Rumors that Starbucks will venture into Rome are stirring up the locals.

But by the time I left Rome, I'd grown used to my foamy cup of steaming coffee and learned to enjoy the smaller serving of deliciousness.






So I really did love Rome.

By the time I boarded the plane back to the U.S., I realized there's so much to appreciate in a city that's been around for a few thousand years that I can't possibly see it all in just a day {or even ten of them}.

So maybe I'll even return someday. To live as the Romans do for a short time, drinking their cappuccinos, eating pasta and soaking in history.

I definitely want another fried artichoke and a plate of zucchini fries.

But absolutely not the goat.





I'm visiting with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart



25 comments:

  1. Gorgeous pictures, as always. Glad you had a great time and are back! :)

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks so much for the welcome -- it's nice to be on this side of the ocean again! xo

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  2. I knew you would love Rome. But yes, there is so much there, too much to adequately appreciate in a matter of days. Your photos reminded me of our visit there. I don't know about you, but I even loved their gentle accents and how Rome is said Roma. So happy for you Valier and thanks for sharing your photos and impressions.

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    1. Hi Debby,
      It would take several visits wouldn't it, to feel like we'd seen most of what that beautiful city offers? Yes, I love how they say Roma and I could listen all day to their musical language! I only wish I could speak it! :)

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  3. I'm always happy to click on a linkup and find YOU! Your words and pictures are like a travel brochure or a travel documentary - I wasn't disappointed today. Those zucchini fries sound delightful and the fried artichoke? Oh!

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    1. Susan,
      Thanks for your sweet words! Even though the pasta was delicious, the salty fried veggies were magnificent! :)

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  4. I'm so glad you're back, Valerie! Wow! That old architecture is so detailed and artistic. I love that you described it as "evidence that the people of Rome have continued to have hope and the courage to persevere, despite extremely difficult circumstances." And the paintings in the churches. Amazing! It must have taken the artist years! Oh, and I'm so glad you sympathized with the goats! :) Did your mom enjoy it all, too? Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      I missed you! Yes, we both enjoyed it so much! I'm saving the goat farm experience for a separate post -- because you know, when there's farm animals involved I have to do some pun-thinking! :) The city was just spectacular and as I stood in St. Peter's square, I couldn't believe I was standing in such a famous place! I have lots more photos and I can't wait to share them! xo

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  5. Dear Valerie,
    Oh you give the best "Armchair Tours" ever! Your images and descriptions make me feel as if I was there walking those cobblestone streets with you. What an incredible display of artwork on those church ceilings--every available inch is covered. But this especially touched me today: "I suppose Romans have grown so used to these pieces of the past that are part of their daily landscape that they barely take note as they go about their normal lives." Isn't this a picture of humanity also? We overlook the beauty right in front of us, always longing for something different! I'm so thankful that you travel with fresh eyes, and share with all of us the beautiful surroundings that you find! --Blessings to you!
    P.S. I can't wait for more of the stories from this trip!

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      Oh I'm so glad you could travel along with me virtually! And thanks for being so kind to await more stories (I'm saving the goat farm adventure for a separate post!) I think of you often and hope you are feeling stronger now that spring is approaching! xoxo

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  6. I can't get over the lavish paintings in the churches... how beautiful it all must have been in person! And I have been enjoying some Trader Joe's zucchini fries lately-- though I'm betting yours were much better by far! What an awe- inspiring trip!! And the cappuccino looks delightful! Praise God I have been able to add back in some decaf here! But I'm sure you're glad to be back on home turf and I can't wait to see what other treasures come to the surface as you let the whole trip sink in. ♥ Thanks for taking us along to Rome with you friend. xxoo

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    1. Hi Heather!
      I had no idea Trader Joe's had zucchini fries -- I must get some! I'm so glad you've been able to enjoy a little coffee again too and hope you are feeling better. Yes, I am glad to be home -- Rome was a little colder than I thought it would be and now that I'm back in Florida, spring is definitely here (and quite lovely)! Hope it's on its way to Virginia too! xo

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  7. Beautiful photos! It looks like you had an amazing trip! The food looks delicious! You are making me want to leave the country!

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    1. Why Brittany, fortunately for you, you ARE leaving the country next week! :) xo

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  8. Valerie,
    Thanks for posting your photos. I was thinking of you last week and wondering how you were doing. So happy to read your glowing report :-) I love zucchini fries and I would also have skipped the goat. Welcome back and I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip. xoxo

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    1. Hi Dolly,
      I am so touched you thought of me while I was gone! Rome was amazing and despite a few trip-ups I'm so fortunate to have been there! It's all in the perspective! :) xo

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  9. Thanks for sharing about your trip. Italy is a place I'd definitely like to visit some day so I loved seeing your photos and the food sounds great too. I'm glad you had a good time!

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      Oh you must put Italy on your list! All of it is so beautiful, you can't help but have a spectacular time! xo

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  10. Hi Valerie! I am so gald you are back safe and sound! Looks like an amazing trip! and yo your pictures are beautiful! I love the one of you are the end! Beautiful! and the cappuccino looks amazing! Thanks for sharing all these pictures and your amazing thoughts too! hmmm I am getting hungry now! With hugs xoxo

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    1. Hi Susie,
      Thanks so much for traveling with me virtually! I love it that you think of me and pray for me and take such joy in sharing what I'm doing -- love you!! xoxo

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  11. Thank you Val for this beautiful tour of Rome! I want to just hang out here and savour the scenes that engage all my senses. That coffee must have smelled amazing! Walking those streets with so much history...was it hard to keep stepping sometimes when a view appeared deeply rooted in story too? You have now made me add another city to move up my bucket list of travel. Maybe I will write a travel essay titled Following Val's Footsteps in Flats. :) I have added Savannah to my trip out your way in a couple of weeks along with St Augustine. Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      Yes, I found it hard to keep walking (and staying upright on the cobblestones) when something so spectacular was right in front of me! And I can't wait for you to experience Savannah too -- you will love it, just like you'll love St. Augustine! I can't wait to see it through your eyes! xoxo

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  12. Oh, how neat and exciting! I felt like I was right there seeing the sites and tasting the foods you described! You have such a gift for writing, and your amazing pictures just draw me right in. As always, it is such a pleasure to visit with you, my friend. So thankful you enjoyed your time in Rome and so grateful for you sharing about it here...taking us places that we will never go ourselves. :)

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Oh I've missed reading your updates and anxious to get back to it! :) Thanks so much for your sweet words and I'm so glad you're here to always encourage me, my friend! xoxo

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  13. Valerie, it sounds like a wonderful trip! So much history and beauty on every side. And now that I've read your recap, I'm kind of hungry (though not for goat meat, dried or not). :-)

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