Italian Summer Love Affair

Italian Summer Love Affair

After a few summer days on the streets of Rome one can easily fall out of love with Italy. Monument hopping in 80 degrees with herds of tourists, stopping occasionally for ridiculously priced (and not very impressive) plates of pasta, is not the Italy most of us dream of.

Now don’t get me wrong. Show me the Colosseum on a cool fall afternoon, or put me in line at the Vatican on a temperate spring morning and I will be wowed. But in July, with sweat dripping down my back, as I squint to see the historic sights through the blazing sun, I’m really more interested in cooling off with a generous scoop of gelato than advancing my knowledge of Roman history. There are some things people should not do outside of summer (like wear white shorts) and there are some things people should never do in summer (like go to Rome).

But then there is Sorrento.

Sorrento, Amalfi coast, Italy, Summer in SorrentoAs soon as my ferry pulled up to the colorful, quaint town I thought, “Now this is Italy.” Arriving in Sorrento was an instant aphrodisiac—the spark was back, and the romance Italy and I once had (if only in my dreams) was fully restored.

Sorrento, Amalfi, Bus ride AmalfiSome stop in Sorrento on way to Capri but I was bus bound; next stop Amalfi. Did driving along swirly roads, separated from an ocean plunge only by a short wall unsettle me? Just a tad. But once the wheels were rolling and my silent movie of scenery began to play through the foggy, graffiti tagged window, my nerves were replaced with lust and awe.

Sorrento, Amalfi, bus ride amalfi coastThe translucent turquoise water that meets the rocky coast looked so refreshing it took all of my strength not to dive in as the bus ride concluded. But obediently I checked into my hotel and changed my attire for more appropriate garments (i.e. a bikini).

Walking through Amalfi one thing is for sure—lemons. Big, plump lemons showcased storefront, lemon cookies, limoncello… and my personal favorite, Granita di Limone. Granitas are delicious, frozen drinks perfect for cutting the heat on a hot summer day in Amalfi. Do yourself a favor and spike your granita with a shot of vodka (mini bottles are for sale in most street stores) and walk down to the beach. Access is free but chairs aren’t, so keep cash on hand.

Amalfi, Amalfi coast, bus ride amalfi coast, how to get to amalfiOne dip in the Med and memories of my Roman nightmare melted away. Dinner that night, of fresh fish and chilled wine, made up for dozens of dishes of spaghetti. And the energetic Italian gentlemen, offering me and my friends invitations of gelato, limoncello, and dancing helped me realize that’s exactly what a girl wants when coming to Italy. Ocean access, lemon-infused beverages, good food and nights spent dancing till dawn… Dolce vita.

summer in amalfi, amalfi coast, bus ride amalfi


Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake

There are many musts while visiting the city of lights: take a boat tour on the Seine, get lost in the Louve, have a glass of Chateau while taking in the view of the Eiffel Tower. As breathtaking as the sights of the French capital are, there are other just as notable, and much more appetizing, aspects as well.

While strolling down Champs-Élysées you will be surrounded by endless shops and cafes. The Arc de Triomphe, positioned perfectly at the street’s end, draws tourists away from the street’s bustle for a photo op with the historic monument. But before you head for the glorious Arc, it is important to take note of the subtle mint-green awning to your left. The simple, gold lettering across the front reads, “Ladurée,” but more appropriately should just say “Dessert Heaven.”

Some walk into Ladurée to sit down for a cup of tea, but with the gluttonous display of baked goods staring me in the face I become quite ravenous, quite quickly. Little cards delicately placed among the selections. Millefeuilles, Le Divin, L’Ispahan… all of these French names with no meaning to me only make them more appealing. I ponder the mystery of ingredients. What is in the center of that puffy little pastry? Is it cream? Is it fruit? Is it just more puffy pastry? I don’t know, so I must know. So I point to the unknown and when the cute French girl lifts the round little wonder I nod my head in excitement. At 5.50 Euros a pop I try to think economically but how can I when my eyes are playing tricks on my mind, my stomach, and my wallet.

Pastry after pastry, cake after cake, decadent little chocolate after decadent little chocolate, the display at Ladurée is endless and each option is more tantalizing than the last. As I slowly make my way up the line of tourists gawking and pointing frantically over the glass, I finally arrive at the cashier, exhausted and eager. Quickly I learn that whether you choose an artistically crafted little cake or a variety of flavors of macaroon (the rose is unexpectedly delicious) you will be more than pleased.

And so, it is due to my pure amazement of French desserts that whenever someone asks what I recommend they add to their Parisian itinerary, the answer is always the same. While in Paris, eat cake.