weekend links.

My gelato from Come Il Latte. I have to say (in a whisper) it gets big points for beauty but not as many for taste (or location!!). I think Grom and Pasqualetti (in Orvieto) beat it in a landslide.

Steve sent me this commercial to include in this round-up. It's pretty darn cute.

What happened when one woman read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Hilarious. (Thanks, Kate!)

These clogs are absolutely beautiful.

My two thoughts: It's been TEN YEARS (?!?) and RPattz's fiancé's name is FKA Twigs?

I've been checking into the weather at home and... it's chilly. This sweater is awesome.

I'm not really fancy but I do have opinions about my wine glasses (I love when the glass is super thin.). At home, we've broken a few of our "nice set" from our wedding, that now I drink out of a cheap stemless set or... even... a mason jar (#hipster). This is apparently the perfect wine glass. (But it comes at a price!)

I'm not really a products junkie but I've been without virtually all of my stuff (I didn't bring one thing for my hair besides... a brush.) since we left home. I did not, however, leave home without this and my skin is grateful.

Thanks for your love on my homesick post. I'm definitely going to bring the boys to the Borghese gardens soon! GREEN SPACE!!! Have a good weekend, friends!


Are you homesick?

I opened myself up to questions about the trip on Facebook the other day and one of them was, as the title suggests, "Are you homesick?" Now this answer could change a bit based on the day I'm being asked but having been here since July 30, I think I have enough perspective to answer thoughtfully.

In short: yes.

This trip, while totally romantic and dreamy (especially when viewed through the lens of Instagram), is also seriously not romantic and dreamy. We are traveling in a foreign country! With four kids! And without overnight Amazon shipping options! I'm kidding about that last one! But sort of not? (Hangs head in shame.)

Steve and I were alone recently -- us alone? Rarer than a unicorn sighting. We don't really even know how to have adult conversations anymore. We were finally alone and we simply stared at one another  blinking like... what now? -- and we asked each other the typical questions: what do you miss about home, are you happy you did this, what would you do differently

We miss certain foods (Mexican! Giant salads and burgers!), the comforts of our own home (a cushy rug for Anders to crawl around on! my dryer! my own kitchen and supplies!), my cleaning supplies (I like my crunchy cleaning supplies, okay!?!), our friends (since we don't speak Italian fluently we mostly talk to each other. We love each other but sometimes we're also sick of each other?). We are totally happy we did this and are pretty certain we'll look back like, "Did that really happen? Was it all a dream?" Even if, at times when in it, we're like "EFF THIS," we are still aware that it's really cool, we have learned so much, we have grown in all sorts of ways, we have seen some incredible places, we have had some once-in-a-lifetime moments. And to do things differently? Maybe a little more time here, a little less time there, a different Airbnb (bigger, smaller, better kitchen, better location, etc.). For instance this current Airbnb, which also is our longest rental, doesn't really have a kitchen. I knew from the listing that it was basic but didn't really realize just how basic. It's more of a glorified table really. A sink, two induction plates, and a tiny fridge (you know, like the kind you had under your bed in college). I told Steve this morning I have about one cubic foot of kitchen "workspace." It turns out eating out does get old! (And expensive.)

Rome is really freaking cool in a lot of ways. I'm currently in a strange love-hate with it. You can't spit without having it land on something really, really old. To clarify, I don't make a habit of spitting, here or at home. Steve's sort of in his element here--Nero burned all of this down! Augustus Caesar probably walked right here, leaving the theatre, to return home right there! It's fun to watch. He loves history and Rome is jam packed full of it. We can see ruins from our Airbnb! The Forum is literally around the corner! The alleys, the cafes, the piazzas. They're amazing. I love walking down an alley, not certain of exactly where it will lead, and then you look up and there's the Pantheon. Or coming upon the prettiest cafe with a chalkboard menu and deciding that you must try their cappuccino because why not? But Rome isn't exactly a kid-friendly city (let me differentiate the Italian people from their city, however; they are so kid-friendly.). The only nice green space I've seen is in front of the Victor Emmanuel Monument and it's gated off entirely. There's really no playgrounds to speak of (I lie, there's two I've seen, but they're very small, basic ones.), no parks. The Circus Maximus could be amazing! What a vast empty space it is! But it's in serious disrepair--litter and broken glass everywhere. I realize this is a complicated issue of government and funding in an ancient city but, coming from the Boston area, where you can't walk more than a mile without passing a park or a playground, I'm missing them badly. My own needs? Rome more than meets them. A quiet corner cafe, a good book, a glass of wine, people-watching for days, a nighttime stroll. But the needs you have when there are children to keep happy are, of course, quite different. Steve and I looked at each other yesterday at a low point in the day--let's say we'd all reached our limit of together time--and sort of just laughed. "It's the nature of the beast," I said. He agreed.

Do I sound whiny? I've had moments here where I've thought, "XYZ is hard. Should I blog about this? Will it sound like I'm complaining? Will my readers roll their eyes at me?" I might be rolling my eyes at me if I were you too. But it's honest. I can't help but give the honest parts too. That's what this post is. You asked!


A quick guide to Florence! Mostly the eating.

Florence! What a fantastic city. Steve and I spent a mere day there on our way to Cinque Terre five years ago and in that short a time, I knew I liked the place and wanted to return. It just has a good feel about it, I don't know. Our time there this trip was still too short, by a long shot, but it's good to not feel as though you've had your way with a city entirely. The need to see more, do more is what makes you return right? I will return. In fact, I've now declared that if I had to live in Italy, I'd want it to be in the Florence area. 

You and me, Florence! Our time is not up!

Florence feels do-able to me. It doesn't feel totally intimidating. It doesn't feel like the cars are in a contest to try to kill as many American tourists as they can in one day. (I'm writing this from Rome, so what am I suggesting?) On foot, you can see Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio... and then some, and really within a short time frame. 

I like to wander, but then when it comes to actual money being exchanged (for food, for leather goods, for whatever), I want to do it where it counts. I am not the girl who's going to stop just anywhere for a croissant or a margherita pizza. But is this the best margherita pizza in the city? Is this where the locals go for their cappuccino? Is this place a tourist trap?! Come on, sometimes sugar crashes are imminent and when traveling with kids you just need straight up calories--doesn't matter what, just shovel some food down the gullet--but I feel like I did my due diligence in Florence and went to some really good places. Now I'm going to tell you what they are because that's what good bloggers do.

All'Antico Vinaio. Enormous sandwiches. Pretty sure locals and the tourists alike go as there were many English speakers standing in line. There are two, right across the street from each other, and the sandwiches are built inside the freshest focaccia bread. I'm talking cut-in-front-of-you-and-you-watch-the-steam-rise-from-them fresh. You'll see stacks of focaccia crossing the street from one store to the other (I think one side is strictly where the baking takes place), and it smells fabulous. There are many variations you can get with all those Italian meats--porchetta, proscuitto, et cetera--but if you want tacchino (turkey) you can get that too and don't let them talk you out of it! Sometimes us Americans want turkey, dammit! With that said, I got salami one day and turkey the next. Both were good. In addition to your meat, there are grilled vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, plus a sort of pecorino cream, balsamic vinegar, greens, and more. (Not pesto. They're apparently fairly snooty about this fact. "This is not Liguria. NO PESTO.") Your sandwich will be packed, your bread will have just the perfect amount of crunch on the outside while maintaining soft insides, and they wrap it up in plastic with a napkin to catch the inevitable drips, and off you go. For this? 5 euros! We went a few times because where can you feed--and fill--the whole family for 20 euros (Parker opted out)?!  With this crew, nowhere. Bonus: pour your own wine to sip on the street or while in line for 2 euros. Don't be intimidated by the lines--they move pretty fast. (Us chowing down pictured above--yes, the one of Anders crying in the stroller while Parker sleeps on. #Travelwithkids.)

All'Antico Vinaio
Via dei Neri 74

Ditta Artigianale. A sweet little coffee shop that will also give you American breakfast if you wish.  A little NYC meets Portland, OR meets Italy. So... hipster. The prerequisite to getting a job here is having beard oil in your medicine cabinet, that sort of place. Parker got a pancake here, and I had eggs one day. Delicious coffee, nice ambience, good tunes (I think they played Madeline Peyroux the whole time which made me very happy.). They also make a good cappuccino. (Though, to be fair, I don't think I've had a bad one yet--even at the basic train stop cafes. Is Italy really so good at them or do I have seriously unimpressive tastebuds?) This is worth a stop to sit and sip.

P.S. Artigianale basically means "artisan/craft" so you are bound to see this a lot. For instance, "Gelato artigianale." It's basically always a positive, so go to these places.

Ditta Artigianale
Via dei Neri 32

La Menagere. This place is probably one of the most beautiful coffee shops/restaurants I have ever stepped foot in. I think I actually gasped when I went in. Eye-candy EVERYWHERE. I'm sure they are completely over women like me snapping pictures with their iPhones or cameras instead of sipping the damn coffee they just ordered but it is beyond. (A few pictures of the place above.) There is a flower shop in it, some kitchen goods, breakfast, and then lunch/dinner. There's also this enormous table (like 50 seats) where you can sit for dinner, amongst strangers. It's stunning. It has these enormous doors that open right out onto the streets, lots of tables, free wifi. Jazz on the basement level certain evenings. One time we went and it was totally great, the other time the service was sub-par but I forgive them because the place is just too pretty so I will forever give it a second chance. Also, the woman who runs the flower shop there is super sweet. And her arrangements are unreal (click on the link and scroll through!). Bonus, the street it's on has some good shopping and is right by the Duomo.

La Menagere
Via de'Ginori 8r

Il Latini. We met Jora and Bryan and kids here and it was one of our favorite meals of the whole trip. Since you won't be able to actually meet this fabulous family (who's well-versed in all things Florence after spending a lot of time there) and have them order for you, I'll tell you what to get because it was all delicious (and for those who recommended Gato e la Volpe on IG, this is similar but better). Ribollita! Pappa al pomodoro! Steak! This is all ultimate comfort food. The steak will be as large as your head and really, really delicious. Like you'll want to go in face first. The ribollita was on a huge dish, and passed, family style as well as the pappa al pomodoro that came in a big white bowl. Whether this is how it always is or whether Bryan and Jora specified in Italian, I'm not sure. We also got a mixed appetizer--bruschetta mista (mixed) and one had chicken liver on it. At first I was like... no. Then I ate more than my share because it was so good. I would recommend that you go here. That's probably obvious.

Il Latini
Via dei Palchetti, 6R

Gucci Museo. Right on Piazza della Signoria, there's a big, classy outside seating with both tables and chairs and comfy couch-like spots to plop down on. (On second thought, don't plop. It's Gucci after all. Sit down daintily.) We went here after sandwiches so it was mostly for a small bite and wine. The waiter was one of my favorites yet. Nice, professional, great presentation with the wine. You know how at fancy place they pour a tiny bit in someone's glass and that person tastes it? That was Steve and if you know Steve you know he's not really equipped to be the "taster" (nor am I!) but he put on his sommelier hat that day and was all, "Yes, very good." We also got a selection of cheeses and some bruschetta. All really good. There's a bookstore and coffee shop inside and also a museum, I suppose? But, surprise surprise, I'm specifically talking about the restaurant here. A sometimes good rule of thumb is to avoid most places on the big piazzas but not this one. This was great, and has a killer view. (Also recommended to us by Bryan and Jora--you can't miss with them!)

Gucci Museo
Piazza della Signoria

What else? Walk the streets! Get gelato! Get coffee! Sit on a stoop and watch the motorcycles buzz by! Cross the Arno and walk along the Pitti Palace or the Piazzale Michelangelo or Fiesole (though I've heard some say that's overrated? And if it's for views alone, I think you can get them without going so far out of town?). Ride the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica! Look at the statues in Palazzo Vecchio! One of the days we were there, a huge group of school children from Rome were on a scavenger hunt. Two of their tasks were: 1) to explain the statues to a tourist and 2) take a selfie with a tourist. Needless to say, I'm in at least eight selfies. I imagine them showing their teacher for a grade at the end, "That girl... again?!"

Edited to add: Il Mercato Centrale! Such a fun place to hang out. Similar to Eataly, if you've been. Fresh food all around. You can eat and drink there, take food away, groceries... even a cooking school. (And burgers for the one's missing home.) Check it out!

Enjoy Florence. It's so great.
(And add your own recommendations below!)


weekend links.

Look up! Look down! The churches are pretty spectacular here. We duck into almost every one of them. This shot was at San Giovanni in Laterano.

I've always been a huge Aden + Anais fan. Now these?! Love.

How about this for a teacher's gift?

I ate ribollita twice in Florence and now I want to have a really great recipe in my repertoire back home. It was so good. (Proclaiming I have a "repertoire" makes me sound much more together than I really am.) I'm starting with this one. Can't beat Ina.

I'm hearing so much about this kid toy. I think it's going to be on Parker's Christmas list (whether he knows it or not).

Have you seen this round-up of 27 Airbnbs you have to stay at before you die?! One is a SKI LIFT.

I'm making this monkey bread as soon as I'm home.

30 Things you Need by the Time You're 30. Some of these made me chuckle.

Have you guys heard of The Hatchery? I'm intrigued.

These ankle boots are awesome.

See you next week!


Food + churches.

Today I spent the majority of Anders' morning nap going down the rabbit hole of THE BEST PLACE TO EAT IN ROME THAT ALSO COINCIDES WITH THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF STEVE'S TOUR DE ROME AGENDA. He takes the tour seriously, I take the food seriously. If ever he pushes it too far I'm like, "You don't want me to run out of milk do you and then Anders starves and then where are we?!"

I really do like the places we're going. I can (and I do) appreciate a beautiful church. San Giovanni in Laterano for instance. The statues of the disciples, the symbolism, the floors, the ceiling. And then the history underneath San Clemente? You can't take a step in this city without stumbling upon something really, really important it seems. But, my expectations are still kept at a minimum. If Anders falls asleep in the stroller forcing me to plop down on a pew and guard with the stroller while the rest of them head downstairs to the base floor of some fabulous church lest we wake the baby (never wake the baby), then so be it. I may not get to see it all, but I get the extra piece of bruschetta and that last glug of wine as payment!

After checking Google Maps, Trip Advisor, and Steve's agenda, I came up with Da Enzo. Italian restaurants are funny. You can't judge a book by its cover, nor can you judge a restaurant's food by the interior of the place is what I mean. It can appear like a little hole in the wall, the ambience can be so-so, and bam! Here's a plate of sloppy burrata, diced tomatoes, a bowl of carbonara with the-perfect-thickness bites of pancetta and yolky sauce and it's delicious. That's true in places besides Italy but I find it's especially common here. Ambience can be whatever, but it really isn't a reflection of the food. Another example: Steve and I both had the most delicious bowls of barley soup yesterday at a roadside cafe that was no fancier than a 7-11 on the inside. A drizzle of olive oil in our soup and everything.

So I guess the moral of this story is try everything because you just never know. The other moral is try Da Enzo. The food is delicious.


day 1 in rome.

today steve played tour guide (this is where a large chunk of his work will take place... which is, in part, seeing various sights to develop a future class... more on that later!). we were up and at 'em early... take away cappuccinos, and apples and peanuts and yogurts packed and thrown under the stroller for the low blood sugar times. as well as extra diapers and sweatshirts and hats, all of which were shed when the temperatures rose later on in the day. the kids were so good. anders drifted in and out of naps, content in the stroller most of the day with cuddles here and there when he came out for nursing or diaper changes. it really couldn't have been such a successful day without their good spirits, thank you kids! meanwhile parker sometimes rode in the stroller, other times was on foot. when he got tired of being on foot, i'd distract him with song: "parker parker bo barker fanana fanna fo farker..." you'd be surprised at how well it worked. william and lindsey got to climb the scala sancta on their knees--what an experience! (read up on it. very interesting.) i think some teenagers would be all bored at this point, but they're both being good sports about being carted all around italy. it helps that they're not in regular monday through friday classes like the rest of their friends back home perhaps but we'll take it... anyway, we got to three different churches, an ancient aqueduct, and food without any meltdowns. hunts win today! high fives all around!

oh, and we ended the day with gelato from the frigidarium. good suggestion you guys. i got the frigidarium flavor. YUM.

more to come on the details of the day. probably a better post for steve to write! for now... bed!


some thoughts.

travel does weird things to time. it feels like eons ago that we were in lake como, or that we were packing our bags and driving to jfk. i don't understand. my mom and dad left today, and i'm bummed. we still have a lot of adventure left, and i'm looking forward to it, but man was it nice having them here. and not just for the extra set of hands or the morning coffee! i just like being around them, and no matter how old you are, there's something comforting about having mom and dad near. why don't you guys turn around and come back???

florence was amazing. that city is so, so great. orvieto was so wonderful and after spending as much time there as we did, we so became part of the local scene, recognized faces, had our little routines, but it is a slow and somewhat sleepy pace so arriving in florence had me energized and ready to discover. it was only a few days (wish it were longer) but i feel like we got a lot accomplished (especially for having kids in tow!). 

we also made friends (you remember jora?! i forever miss her blog.) and what a welcome surprise it was. first we got together for a big lunch as a family, and then upon hitting it off, we hung out every day until we left. she is even lovelier in person, and i already miss her and her sweet family. they're keepers and i can't wait to see them again.

we're in rome now ready to take it all in, but is it okay to say i'm tired and hitting the sack tonight extra early? we arrived, i went to get groceries, came home and got in the bath with parker and anders (yes, all three of us) and didn't leave the apartment again. it's terrible, i know, but sometimes i need a slow day, even though we just arrived. i think the kids need that too. i sometimes wonder if all of this is a lot for parker, and if he needs tastes of home. slow mornings where he just can flip through a book, eat his apple slices dipped in peanut butter, race his cars around. since we've been here, there hasn't been as much of that as he's used to. i don't want him to get lost in the rat race of travel. there's always tomorrow.

now it's time for me to go to bed. more to come on florence with some of my recommendations. and if you've got some for rome, please let me know! (i especially welcome the gastronomy-centered ones. i'm not a seeeerious museum-goer but cafe and restaurant-goer, indeed.)



Assisi is spectacular. It's bathed in pink, the local stone that was used to build the majority of the city is the lightest shade of the color, so it is bright and beautiful and glows even more as the sun goes down. It's sprawling, on a sort of hill, so you're almost always going up or going down, which made me whip out the cheesiest of jokes: "Can't be a sissy when you're in Assisi." I bet I'm not the first to use that stupid line, though I should be the last.

We parked at the bottom of the city (town?), and walked up the street passing shops all along the way. We grabbed some paninos and fresh juices on our way up, pausing for a few moments to eat them. Grilled zucchini, pomodoro, stracchino cheese, and rucola on mine (some of that was Italian, some was English; I whip it out only when convenient and when I absolutely know that I know the word. Even so, I'll bet I'm getting some wrong). A crunchy focaccia outside, and she grilled it before giving it to me. It hit the spot, then up we went.

There are churches to pop in, shops to browse, and of course the enormous and beautiful basilica. Go downstairs and you can see St. Francis' garb, chalice, tomb. Walk around the city, and you're bound to pass his followers, in the same sort of robe you saw in the basilica only moments earlier. You get the sense that people come here with purpose, religious or otherwise.

As you leave the city you might be lucky to catch a sunset as we did. It was beautiful. Skip the cannoli (pictured above). While beautiful, it wasn't good. Grab some wine or gelato instead! Enjoy Assisi. It's magic.