che figata

It’s December and I’m reminiscing about my time in Italy earlier this year. I miss learning new Italian phrases and hearing the language every day. I’m craving the laid-back lifestyle, the complete understanding of the beauty in doing nothing. Maybe I’m just ready for a post-pasta nap.

Italian is full of beautiful phrases, some of which don’t have a literal or perfect translation to English. In fact, those are my favorite words to learn. Huffington Post listed 11 Italian phrases whose meanings run a little deeper than English words can handle. Check out the list and take a mini Italian vacation.


Source: Huffington Post


Bombo Bar

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I remember my first Bombolone!

Bar Siena just opened a “bombolone walk-up window” which essentially means a place to get late-night Italian filled doughnuts. No further explanation needed, right? I saw this little piece of beautiful news this morning and immediately flashed back to Florence, Italy, circa 2011. I stuffed my happy face that April with a cream-filled bombolone from a gorgeous pasticceria on our way back from Piazzale Michelangelo (see below). I remember two things about that night: the beautiful view from the piazza and the pillowy perfection of the doughnut. I’ll be paying that walk-up window a visit in the near future!

Bombo happiness, Florence 2011

Source: Zagat, my own

The Last Week!

This time next week, I will be in Chicago.

Correction: This time next week I will be at Bang Bang Pie in Chicago, let’s be honest. I want to land, take a shower, and have some pie in my vicinity within 48 hours. 

I can’t believe my time is almost up in Italy. It’s been an incredible experience, and I’ve met so many interesting people. I’ve had the chance to live with a beautiful family, travel with great friends, learn Italian, teach English, and eat my weight in pasta. I have zero complaints.

I’m going to make the most of my remaining days here, and who knows – maybe I’ll be back before I know it!

Here are a few photos from this weekend and last week:

Listening to great traditional music at a local restaurant. 


Say hello to the crazy monkeys I live with 🙂

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Gorgeous day for a party in the garden, complete with Princess greeter.

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Source:  my own

Roman Holiday II

The adventures continued for another 6 days. It was a long but marvelous vacation.


P1040216Thursday: We ventured to the magical island of Capri and had our breath taken away multiple times by the stunning views and long hikes up steep hills.  For dinner after our long day? Bistrot, a cute and delectable restaurant almost next to our AirBnb that we actually went to on Wednesday night as well! We made friends with our waiter (running theme) and ate like queens. Amazing experience I will never forget. Grazie, Federico. I will find you on WhatsApp someday like you requested.

Friday: Impromptu trip back to Rome. I’m pretty certain both me and Julia said at one point “let’s go home early.” Home = Rome. On the way, we stopped in Naples for pastiera at Gambrinus and pizza at Da Michele.IMG_6572

Saturday: EVI ARRIVES! I was so lucky to be joined on this trip by two beyond lovely people. It was such a nice dose of home life. Evi and I got lunch and had our worlds rocked by Old Bridge gelato. “This is really doing something to me.” – Evi, on Old Bridge gelato. We headed to Dar Poeta for pizza with Julia on her last night, and somehow afterwards Evi and I end up back at the Irish pub. (I know the way.)

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 presetSunday: Buona Pasqua! To celebrate? Dolce Maniera. By this point you’d have to pay me to stay away. We took a nice walk around Rome to see all of the sights but mostly to get gelato from Giolitti (round 3 at this point). In comparing the two, Evi and I both slightly preferred Old Bridge but let me tell you… the fico caramellato flavor from Giolitti is now, hands down, a crucial element in my hypothetical “last meal.”

Monday: The goal of this day was to see some stuff on our way to the aventine keyhole, eat lunch in Testaccio and hit up Old Bridge gelato on the way back. Mission. Accomplished.

Tuesday: Evi flies back to Chicago, I fly back to Reggio, and the memories from this amazing trip settle in to last forever.

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P1040088 Thank you Julia, my honey, and Evi, I still think his name is Krad, for making this holiday even better than I could have imagined.

Current day: I passed my exam from Italian level A2 and moved up with a few of my friends to B1. The course is difficult but I appreciate the challenge and am learning so much. Tutoring is going well, the kids are making me laugh every day, and I can’t believe I only have two weeks left here.

Source: my own

Roman Holiday

Two days after my last post, I left for a 12 day trip to Rome and the Gulf of Naples. Now, I’m back in Villa San Giovanni, back to my routine and trying to squeeze the most out of the next two weeks before I return to Chicago. Because I only packed a backpack for 12 days (ouch) I couldn’t blog real-time. So, hopefully the following notes and pictures will suffice as a retelling of my lovely Italian holiday. And yes I am literally wearing the same thing in most photos. I packed in one backpack for 12 days, remember?

Here’s a bit about the first half of the trip!IMG_6345

Friday: Panic in Fiumicino. How am I supposed to meet up with my pre-arranged, Italian-speaking cab driver in this gigantic airport? Fumble my way through Italian phone/text conversations, that’s how! JULIA ARRIVES!!

Saturday: Paradise. The Taste of Testaccio tour was one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever done. Julia and I ate our way through one of Rome’s coolest neighborhoods, guided by an even cooler lady who taught us so many things about Roman food, Italian customs, etc.

Processed with VSCOcam with se1 presetSunday: First stop: Dolce Maniera. One cornetto, one ciambella… 60 cents. “We’re definitely coming back to this place.” Next, Giolitti’s famous gelato knocks our socks off. “We’re also
definitely coming back to this place!” Night ends at an Irish pub in the middle of Rome filled with hilarious people? “…. We’ll probably have to come back to this place, too.”

Monday: Returned to Giolitti (told ya so), saw the remaining sights in Rome and ate pizza at Brillo Parlante which ended with a free dessert from our waiter – “For my honeys.” – and an invitation to continue drinking at a nearby bar after his shift. Purtroppo, we declined.Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Tuesday: Dolce Maniera (we keep our promises) to buy breakfast treats and colomba di pasqua to take to Castellammare with us. We took a lonnng train ride to Naples and then another long Circumvesuviana ride to Castellammare di Stabia, our home base for the next few days. We had dinner in this night. Wine on wine on wine on cheese… Things got silly.


Wednesday: Pompeii! Julia and I both remember learning about Pompeii in middle school and being horrified by the events. This day, I was fascinated with the rowdy group of English boys running around practically wrestling while standing up. Their teacher was getting really tired of reminding them, “You’re in an ANCIENT civilization. Act like it!!”


To be continued…

Source: my own

Tutti Together.

This weekend I laughed so much it hurt. My friends in Italian class are from all over the world and speak multiple languages, so there’s often abrupt crossovers between English and Italian and it can make for hilarious conversations. On Friday, something was translated from Russian to English so it could be properly translated into Portuguese. Half the time our sentences start in one language and end in another. Siamo crazy and I love it.

On Friday, a few of us hung out after class, ate too much gelato (which is the perfect amount) and went to the national museum in Reggio Calabria to see the Riace Warriors. It was a beautiful day, but by the time I (literally) chased my bus down at 7pm I was exhausted.

Saturday, I left the house at 6am for a class trip to Palermo. There were eight of us on the trip and it was my first time in Sicily! We took a ferry across the Strait of Messina and it took a few hours to get from the port of Messina to Palermo but the drive was pretty and we could see the Aeolian Islands. To be honest, most of the trip was “a bumpy ride” but it’s now a part of the experience that I will never forget. Couldn’t, even if I tried.

Palermo was amazing. It’s huge and full of people and tiny streets that we tried desperately to fit our bus through. We learned a little about the history of the city, ate cannoli and cassata, both very traditional sweets from Palermo, and had a fun day together.

Sunday I had a big, lovely lunch with both sides of the family! We ate antipasto, pesto lasagna, four-cheese pasta filled with meat, pork with apples, mushrooms, artichokes, bread, wine, pastiera … it was a never-ending paradise of food. In fact, I’m still full today – 3 days later.

Full, and verrrrrrrry happy.


5 Palermo (30)

5 Palermo (72)

5 Palermo (53) 5 Palermo (74)


Andiamo Round 2.


The excursions continued last Sunday when Giovanni and Vittoria took me to Scilla and Chianalea. I woke up sick as a dog Sunday morning after 12 hours of shivering on Saturday (my fault – thin sweater), but decided fresh air would be the best medicine. After some tea and too much colomba di pasqua (Easter bread) for breakfast, we took a drive to Scilla.

It was windy but warmer than Saturday and really sunny, so it was nice to walk around Chianalea, the oldest district of Scilla. It’s referred to as the Little Venice of the Tyrrhenian Sea so I basically knew right away I would like it. The little houses there were built right on top of the rocks, and are separated by teeny tiny little alleyways that go straight into the sea. The back doors lead to their boats!



I was told this place is hoppin’ in the summer and has amazing swordfish sandwiches. Sign me up.