Monday, June 30, 2014

Things to Do While in Rome: A Visit to Cinecitta

“Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.” Jim Henson

Are you a fan of #Italian #movies?  Do you get Fellini's cinematic style?  Then a visit to Cinecittà is a must for you.  #Cinecittà is the Italian version of Hollywood. Their studios are still in use and they have tours that will show you around the sets and tell you movie trivia with which you can later impress your movie fanatic friends.

Cinecittà is easily accessible by metro.  Take the metro A to the Cinecittà stop, and voilà, you made it.  It's better to take the tour as you can only access the studios with the tour.  You will still have time visit on your own the #Fellini House and another pavilion where they have small displays about the different stages of movie making magic.  It will take you a couple of hours to visit Cinecittà and if you love movies, it's time well spent.

There is a very cute caffè inside the grounds of Cinecittà that it's all decorated with a cinematography theme.  Food is also good, as you can imagine.  The store is located adjacent the caffè; there you'll find    t-shirts, coffee table books and all kinds of merchandise that will make you remember your visit to this magical place. 

Tip: Next door to #Cinecitta there is a mall (with parking), if you feel like doing a little shopping while you are there.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Saddest Month of the Year

“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” Albert Camus

There is one thing that makes it easy for a friendship to start, common ground.  When you arrive to a new city and are trying to figure things out, and someone says "I know how you feel" or "me too, I also moved around a few times…" you just met a new friend.  

The one thing I've learned about the #expat community is that it is a very generous and caring one.  We all know what it is to be the new kid in town and not knowing where to start.  Helping each other out just comes naturally.  Sharing fun times, discovering your host city and keeping each other sane, create a special bond. 

As we are all miles away from  our  family, we become our own mismatched family, the one we chose.

Unfortunately, for an expat, when June comes around, before you start looking forward to your summer plans, you know you'll have to say goodbye to some of your friends.  June is the saddest month for an expat family.  There is no easy way about it, only to think that true friendships withstand time and distance and can pick up where they left off, no matter how long it's been.

To all my expat friends leaving this year, I wish you the best of luck and I really hope our paths cross again very soon.  I'll miss you but I'll take you forever with me, in my heart.

As usual, I'm scheduling visits with friends with whom we parted before and now just happen to be on the course of my summer vacation.  It gets easier with time...

Arrivederci, in Italian, means until we see each other again.  Just the word I was looking for.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Things to Do While in Rome: Trastevere

“Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.”  Walt Whitman

Looking for a fun place in Rome to dine "al fresco" or just hang with your friends in a piazza? You'll have to look beyond the Tiber river and into Trastevere. 

Trastevere is a neighborhood in Rome, south of the Vatican.  It is a 20 minute walk from the Vatican, so if you go to Saint Peter's Basilica early in the morning, you can make you way to Trastevere for lunch.  Just follow the river until you reach the bridge called Ponte Sisto, and Trastevere will be on your right.

This neighborhood has a unique personality. Narrow cobble-stone streets, restaurants and bars all around, clothing lines hanging from the windows, it has it all.  I even appreciate the graffiti on the doors, despite their transgressive nature, they're part of this neighborhood's laid back and fun atmosphere. Trastevere feels vibrant at any hour of the day, but specially at night.  There are a few foreign universities nearby so it always attracts a young crowd.

Whether you want to savor a good gelato on a hot day, have a dish of pasta at reasonable prices or enjoy a few beers at night, you can make Trastevere your destination.  A couple of good gelaterias are "I Dolci Di Checco" at Via Benedetta 7 and "Gelateria del Viale" at  Piazza Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli 9F.

Street performers, specially on weekends, come out to entertain the crowds.  So, wear comfortable shoes and go take a walk around Trastevere.  You may just find your favorite spot in Rome.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Nemi: The Town of the Wild Strawberries

“But don't forget, in the meantime, that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.”  Clarice Lispector

Last weekend I was looking for a destination near #Rome and my #Italian friends recommended I visit #Nemi, the town of wild strawberries or "fragoline".  I was so lucky my visit coincided with the town's annual strawberry festival.  Every town in Italy has some kind of special day for their culinary specialty, called "Sagra" so you have the Sagra of the Truffles, Sagra of the Ricotta, Sagra of the Roses, you name the food item, there is a Sagra somewhere for it.  If I could, I would go to all of them!

Nemi is a small town overlooking a lake of the same name, a volcanic lake located 40 minutes south of Rome.  The lake is small compared to others in the region but was favored by Emperor Caligula who built two luxurious vessels that after his death were sunk into the bottom of the lake.  For three euro you can visit the Museum of Roman Ships opened daily from 9am to 6pm except on Sundays when it closes at 2 pm.

But what brought me there were the wild #strawberries!  Small in size but full of flavor.  Of course I had to try the wild strawberry tart, the crepes with wild strawberry toping, the strawberry liquor....

Next time I will go on a hike in the forrest near the lake, and that will be my reason to go back to Nemi.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Pack for Your Weekend Trip

"One never realizes how different a husband and wife can be until they begin to pack for a trip." Erma Bomberk

After many years "on the road", if there is something I've gotten good at is packing.  As an expat, I have packed countless times for many different situations, but here I'm going to talk about the fun kind of packing, packing for a weekend trip.

Depending on your destination and the season, you'll have to make some wardrobe adjustments, but the following rules apply to all kinds of situations:

1. Make sure everything matches! If you are packing two pair of pants and 4 tops, make sure the pants will go with any of the tops, so you can mix and match almost limitlessly.

2. Pick a base color (black or brown) and stick with it.  If you like to color coordinate, picking a base color will save you on having to pack both a black and a brown belt, black and brown shoes, a black purse get the idea.  I normally choose black but I can go for skin tones during the warmer weather.

3. Unless you are going to a super informal destination, always pack a nice dress, you never know when you're going to need it.

4. Make sure you choose very comfortable outfits.  Nowadays, with ballerinas and cute sandals, you can look charming and be comfortable at the same time.  Remember that you most likely will do a lot of walking.

5. Pack your accessories!  Depending on how you use them, you can change the look of an outfit by simply adding a statement necklace and changing your shoes.  Think a black t-shirt and jeans for the day; adding a jacket, a scarf and heals, and you're ready for the night!

6. Prefer wrinkle-free materials.  Silk and jersey items don't take any space in the suitcase and don't wrinkle as much as other natural materials.

7. Pack you belts open, bordering the perimeter of the suitcase.

8. Fill your shoes with small items like socks or sun glasses in their cases, that way the shoes will not loose their form and you'll be utilizing all of your precious space.

9. If you are traveling by plane and checking in your suitcase, and your suitcase does not arrive at your destination, what will you need the most? (an extra t-shirt, underwear, make sure to include them in your carry-on)

10.  If you are traveling with infants or young kids, carry with you an extra outfit for the kids and one for yourself.  I can't tell you how many times I had to pull the extra shirt out of the carry-on when I traveled with my (motion-sickness-prone) little ones.

But most of all, enjoy your trip!!