Italy, Travel
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Roaming the Non-Tourist Version of Rome

A vegan chocolate store in Rome? You said what?

Ok. I know I’ve dropped the ball big time here. It’s been almost a month since I posted anything. Yikes. Scusa. But the thing is, I have just been zooming around. Mostly meeting people from the triennale (undergraduate program) and then traveling with the dynamic duo of Urmila and Vibe. I haven’t really been in a place mentally to sit down in this particular chair in my apartment to put together my experiences, photos and ramblings in one spot. I hesitate to say, “I have been busy” because I know that would push the friends who already are sending me love/hate vibes from their skyscraper office jobs while I am in class learning what theobroma cacao is more towards the hate side.

But really. I have been pushing myself almost every single day to just get out there and to go against my more introverted nature a bit. I’ve had a drink with the director of my Masters program, hosted dinner parties, eaten empanadas around an open fire at a street food night, organized a viewing party of TEDxManhattan and been to France for a weekend. In some ways I know there is an impending crash and burn coming, but I’m taking my Vitamin C. So we’ll see.

Anyways, slowly but surely I will recover my blog presence and I thought I would start by sharing what I was up to last, last weekend. I headed down to Rome on a nice and early 6:50 AM Saturday morning flight with Vibe and Urmila and had a full couple days of walking/eating/shopping before the pandemonium of the study trip (imagine a field trip of middle schoolers…but our median age is about 25) began.

The three of us had already hit the big spots such as the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon and so we just cruised through those tourist spots like no big deal. Really. It was almost laughable how casual we were.

First item on the agenda: Vibe whisked us off to a cute coffee shop (one where you could sit at the bar and take your espresso shot standing up OR you could sit down on an actual couch for a few minutes) and then we cruised through the Campo de Fiori market. How about some pomegranate/orange juice? Note: temperature about 60 degrees with blue skies. Unthinkable a few months ago.


We snuck down a beautiful little alleyway called Via dei Cappellari that was chock-full of artisans making little things like coasters and necklaces and such. A photo op was necessary.


If you know me, you know my hair is looking a little shaggy in this photo. So when we walked by this bumpin’ salon called Hair Art Sound, I jumped at the chance to get a stylish haircut and ran in to make an appointment for later that day. Nearly 99.9% of haircuts obtained in the town of Bra are really really really short on the side and long on the top. It creates a sort of creepy effect where all the boys look the same. I was hoping to avoid that by going to a salon in a major city. I won’t post an “after” picture right now, but I have to say in my book, the appointment was a success.

In the meantime, we had to eat.

So there’s this place called Pizzarium. To get there, we walked past St. Peter’s for about 40 minutes and arrived at this side street where we saw a lot of construction and a half-open door. We were devastated and getting hangry. After all, we had been up since about 3 AM. BUT. Then this girl in a really inappropriately long jacket given the weather came up to us and said, “Do you speak English? Are you looking for Pizzarium?” Of course we were. She said that the space was under renovation and if we hung out for a few minutes, we could grab the shuttle to the temporary location. Cool beans. The funniest part was waiting on a bench for those ten minutes and watching the repeat reaction of all the customers. “It’s closed?!?” then “What?” then “PHEW. Ok, thanks, I’ll wait for the shuttle.”

When we finally got in the temporary location, it was pure pandemonium. Italian style. I won’t include a photo because it made me both angry and nauseous. Anyways we emerged with quite a few types of pizza. Mine is the bottom left which is broccoli and squash plus fennel. In the middle we have some mushroom and some potato as well. And on the top right we have some guanciale (pork cheek). Don’t worry, we got a to go box. But we figured now or never.


The next morning, we had a nice stroll through the up-and-coming (don’t you love it when people say that?) neighborhood of Monti. Appropriately high number of coffee shops plus this place called Full Monti (get it?) which served papaya juice and delicious salmon/fennel/arugula paninis. I temporarily forgot I was in Italy.


Then we stumbled into this awesome pop-up market/fashion show/jewelry place! Not pictured: my cute sundress purchased from this adorable Italian woman wearing Tory Burch flats. Spring is coming.


Given the bohemian-ness (I hesitate to say hipster, because somehow it was not) of this neighborhood, there was an abundance of vintage stores.


We ended our pre-study trip getaway with a delicious meal at a restaurant called Angelina that made you feel like you were in a charming courtyard garden…inside.


Ok, I think that’s enough to digest now. Will write soon about our week in Viterbo, an ancient city about one hour outside of Rome that was our home base for our second study trip.

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