3 Days In Cinque Terre

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After we left our 6-week apartment in Rome, we jumped on three trains and made our way to Cinque Terre. I honestly hadn’t heard of these five little villages until my Italy-obsessed mother mentioned them to me recently. I’m so glad she did. I’m so glad we went.

Cinque Terre was definitely one of the most beautiful places we visited in Italy.

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Cinque Terre: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English. And that’s exactly what it is – five small villages right next to each other. They are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
  • The train will take you back and forth between the towns or you can actually hike in between them too. Many hikers come from all over the world to walk the seaside trails in-between the five villages.
  • The trails between the villages are actually a national park!
  • Cinque Terre’s local wine is typically white and always delicious

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We decided to stay in Vernazza each night for the most romantic reason of all: it was the cheapest on Airbnb. We did visit all the other villages other than Monterosso. Vernazza, in the end, was by far my favorite. But each and every one of them is adorable, charming, and breathtaking.

And each one is a killer butt workout. I’m not joking. Stairs upon stairs upon stairs upon stairs.

The food was a bit more expensive than Rome, and though we had some killer meals, there were a few mediocre meals too. Mediocre is an extreme rarity in Italy. So take that for what it’s worth. The views from restaurants were incredible though.

cinque terre

We hiked between Vernazza and Corniglia. It was an easy-to-moderate walk, and we loved it. There was endless picture taking opportunities. We then took a train to Manarola, and one to Riomaggiore. (The trains are a rip off. 4 euros between each of the villages each time – no matter how close you are.)

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Kyle painted a lot while we were staying here. We didn’t have wi-fi, so I wrote in my journal and read quite a bit. It was a lovely, relaxing stay.

One night we did a wine tasting of three white local wines. We ended up meeting an Australian couple and visited with them while sipping. It was a lovely evening!

cinque terre wine

Real Cinque Terre Conversation:

Me: Babe! Italy is my favorite country ever. Do you think they’d make me an honorary citizen because of all the wine I drink?

Kyle: Definitely because of that.

Me: That’s what I thought.

cinque terre

3 Days On The Amalfi Coast: Sorrento, Amalfi & Capri

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The most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen are along the Amalfi Coast. Some of the favorite days of my life were spent along the Amalfi Coast area. This was my favorite trip in Italy! It was also the most expensive trip we took in Italy. The prices for everything were much higher.

Worth it!

On the first day, Kyle rented a litte Fiat 500 to drive us along the Amalfi Coast. It was the only car we used during the 2 months in Italy. It was the perfect afternoon. We listened to music, we stopped in Positano for a seafood lunch, we drove through the windy roads and soaked up every fabulous sight our eyes could see.

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I can never depict the beauty we saw on this drive. No picture will capture it either. It truly is heaven on earth.

We stayed in Sorrento each night. We entitled Sorrento: “Little America.” It is definitely geared toward rich English-speaking tourists, and that’s normally NOT our cup of tea. But we still loved the area. It’s beautiful. Our favorite night was sitting out by the water eating the best muscles of our lives.

sorrento

sorrento

On day 2, we took a ferry to Capri. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. I got sick as a dog on the ferry ride around the entire island. Other than the waves of nausea, it was a lovely day. I’ll just leave some pictures to attempt to capture it all for you.

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capri

capri

The last day we explored Sorrento some more, took a train back to Naples, then a train back to Rome. It was one of the best trips of my entire life. SO happy we went!

3 Days in Naples & Pompeii

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Naples is gritty. Where much of Italy feels like an idyllic dream pulled right out of a movie, Naples has some rough edges. It’s a bit dirty, a bit rougher. Yet its authenticity is so charming, you cannot help but stare in pure joy.

You see mothers hanging laundry from three floors up as men sell fish underneath at the street market. You see kids playing ball in the busy streets while dogs try to beg for a bit of gelato cone.

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We only had a brief stay in Naples (with an Airbnb, of course!), but we enjoyed the experience. Of course, since it’s only a short commuter train ride away (30 minutes maybe), we visited Pompeii as well.

Naples: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The locals of Naples are called Neapolitans.
  • Naples has a straight main street going through a large portion of the area: Spaccanapoli. It’s incredibly narrow, so cars don’t go through most of it. If you get a picture of what Naples looks like in your head, you’re probably picturing Spaccanapoli.
  • Naples was the most bombed Italian city in WWII.

The #1 thing we loved about Napes: the pizza. Holy carbs, batman, Naples is a pizza god. We didn’t expect much less from the original creator of the pizza pie. Both Kyle and I agreed it was the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives. (Mine, gluten-free, of course). Starita was our favorite pizzeria.

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We also loved its proximity to the water. We ended up climbing Castel dell’Ovo and then finding some nice tables for an afternoon spritz. We got a kick out of watching everyone bath on the rocks.

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naplesPompeii: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Pompeii was a thriving city until Mount Vesuvius blew in 79 A.D. The volcano’s eruption ended up burying the entire city. Nobody in the immediate area was left alive.
  • The city wasn’t discovered again until the 1700s.

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The ruins of Pompeii are amazing – but honestly, not as impressive as some other ruins we’d already seen in Italy. In fact, we visited Tivoli for a day and enjoyed the ruins at Villa Adriana much more than we did Pompeii.

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That being said, it was still an incredible and humbling thing to see. I splurged and got the audio guide to learn about as much as I could while we walked around.

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Ready for the biggest surprise in the world? The best meal I ate in Italy was found in a little side restaurant in the town of Pompeii – about a 15 minute walk from the ruins. I kid you not. The owner’s son apparently has celiac, so he has mastered the art of gluten-free food. We adored it. The restaurant is called Osteria Da Peppino

Overall, our stay in Naples and visit to Pompeii were both great. They can’t qualify as my favorites, but definitely another lovely look at Italy.

A Change Of Plans: Summering

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My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, says this:

“to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

Is that not the most beautiful truth bomb you’ve ever read? Our original plan for Europe in 2016 is that mortal love right now.

As many of you know, we were planning on staying in Europe for 6 months before returning to the States for the holidays. Our plans have changed, and I wanted to update everyone close to us and also those who follow our journey.

Some health problems have popped up that need to be addressed with U.S. health insurance (nothing to be alarmed about). The cost of healthcare for non-citizens in Europe is extraordinary. We feel lucky that we have the privilege of health insurance in our home country, and we will be taking advantage of it this summer – starting tomorrow when we fly home.

(NO, all you eager minds trying to guess what’s wrong, I’m 100% not pregnant and do not plan on being pregnant. You’ll have to make up a much wilder story than that!)

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At first, we were understandably bummed that our plans changed. We love Europe. ADORE IT. But we know health comes first (always!).

Once the initial sting wore off, we realized the whole point to the way we live our nomadic lives is to be free, to let the wind blow us where it wants us to go. Simply because this situation is different from our plan does not make it any less of an opportunity for wild experiences to be had.

So instead of “going to New Hampshire to get medical attention” = boring story. We will be “summering in New England.” I mean, come on, that sounds hoity-toity and delicious, right? I’ve never used a season as a verb before!

We plan to take advantage of New Hampshire’s convenient location and spend time throughout New England and New York. We even plan on visiting good ol’ Canada (You know, I have a crush on Justin Trudeu).

We’re going to hike and camp and swim and kayak. I’m going to spend long afternoons reading on a porch. Summering. Meanwhile, we will have full access to health care we can afford.

We are still planning on coming back to Europe for an extended stay. No set dates yet. I guess we will just see when the wind blows us back over the Atlantic…

10 Things Worse Than Getting Fatter

10 things worse than getting fatter

I’m living in Italy right now. Nobody goes to Italy and thinks, “This is the perfect time to cash in on my New Year’s Resolution and lose 10 pounds.”

You eat in Italy.

You eat bread in all sorts of forms. Croissants, loaves, pasta, pastries, pizza. You eat cheese in sorts of forms. Melted. Sliced. Shaved. Gooey. You drink wine in one form: plenty.

I have never had a metabolism that allows me to eat all I want without gaining weight. I have never had washboard abs. Sure, I’ve never been highly overweight, but I have also never been without a little extra flesh – even at my leanest. (If you don’t believe me, know I am in control of every photo I put on social media.)

For many years, I equated shame with weight. If I lean over and my jeans created a crease where my belly flopped out a bit, that equaled unloveable. If my arm was close to my side and the flesh spread out a bit, that equaled unworthy.

Through practicing the art of self-love, self-care, and good health, I have managed to overcome these negative thought patterns… for the most part.

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Enter Italy. Italy is a gluten-free powerhouse with homemade and handmade GF pastas, breads, pastries, and deliciousness for my Celiac-y self. Everything tastes like an orgasm. I close my eyes and moan when the gluten-free bruschetta touches my taste buds, people. It’s food magic.

I eat in Italy, but I also walk and walk and walk, so I wasn’t concerned at first. Until one morning I woke up and realized, “I could get fatter in the two months here.” Then those shame gremlins (as Brené Brown calls them) started creeping up saying, “If you get fatter, you will be unloveable.”

You know what? That’s a load of shit.

things worse than getting fatter

I am in Italy. I am going to eat Italian food. Not just eat it – enjoy it. I’m over the idea that pleasures are inherently guilty and my worth as a woman is found in how well I can deny myself.

I’m gonna eat the gluten-free pizza with buffalo mozzarella and proscuitto. I’m having gelato for breakfast. You know why? There are worse things.

10 Things Worse Than Getting Fatter

1. Spending lots of money to live in Italy for 2 months, but choosing the side salad instead.

2. Allowing shame to dictate my whole entire freaking life.

3. Being grumpy because the hot man across from me (AKA The Boyfriend) is eating his 6th slice of Napoli pizza while I’m gnawing on some lettuce. (For what it’s worth, I ate the whole damn gluten-free handmade Napoli pizza myself. Except for one slice that I ate for breakfast the next morning.)

4. Letting the patriarchy determine what women should look like in order to be good enough, sexual, or successful.

5. War. War is definitely worse than getting fatter.

6. Wondering if my tummy is popping out instead of wondering how Michelangelo managed to carve David’s large… torso.

7. Not enjoying the taste of wine as it is supposed to be tasted, the Italian way: with an extra glass.

8. Getting small. And I don’t mean on the outside in pounds and fat. I mean small on the inside. Shrinking my soul into a concave wisp of unworthiness that believes I’m not strong or powerful enough to occupy space simply because I licked on a cone of gelato.

9. Being so self-involved that I think the citizens of this globe notice when I go up 4.2 pounds.

10. Missing out. On the wild, electric, mystical, transcendental pleasures of life. Missing out all all the joyous flavors life offers. Missing out on the wholeness of the human experience – including good food. Missing out on ENJOYING.

10 things worse than getting fatter

I’m not advocating obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. I’m not talking about binging or numbing through overeating. I believe in moderation, vegetables, and exercise. I want to be healthy, so I can live a long, interesting, and full life.

But.

I’m over worrying about whether or not I should pee before weighing myself. I’m actually over weighing myself.

I’m over drawing a connection between my carbohydrate intake and my lovability.

I’m over denying myself the pleasure of enjoying good food because heaven forbid I don’t adhere to the ideal weight number for 365 days x 70 years.

In case I didn’t say clearly enough that there are many things worse than getting fatter, allow Eat, Pray, Love to do it for you. This is my Italian motto:

Eat well, my friends, and love yourself.

Tay