Category Archives: dinner

All Roads Lead to Rome

Believe it or not it’s finally time to wrap up our tour of Rome and end the honeymoon. And unlike our quick 10 day visit, if we count blog time, you’ve been there for nearly a month so you’re practically a resident.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

But there’s still so much to see. The Trevi Fountain.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain

The Spanish Steps. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain

The Pope!

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe were told that Vatican City was about 40 minutes from our hotel so we decided to make the most of a warm 85-90 degree day (all acclimated now that we live in Florida) and walk. We made our way down through Piazzo Novana to take another look at the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of four rivers) which was designed by Bernini, who studied under Michelangelo and was known for his attention to detail (i.e. Matt Zalewski biceps).

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

Each corner represents a major river. The Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

A quick walk across the Tiber and we approached Vatican City. It was a good day to explore the area as there was a parade downtown in celebration of Republic Day so we avoided the crowds and got to see a little of the fly-over along the way.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

Whether you celebrate Catholicism or not, Vatican City is a must if you’re heading to Rome. When we arrived, we did as most tourists do and got into the longest line we could find, inching forward to see St. Peters Basilica and hovering in any sliver of shade we could find along the way.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

It’s hard to explain a church known as one of the greatest of all Christendom but let’s just say good ol’ St. Peter lived up to the hype. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo IMG_5196 Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe grabbed a bite to eat at a local spot recommended by our friend John, who lives in the area, and spent the rest of the afternoon working our way through the Vatican Museum and towards the Sistine Chapel. If we were allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel or even speak above a whisper, we still could not translate the beauty and history of one of the most famous pieces of art in history.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe wrapped day 3 in rome and day 10 in Italy with dinner at a local spot recommended by our concierge and finally, a bottle of wine worth remembering. In fact, the waiter let us take another bottle with us and if we can last long enough, we are hopeful to enjoy it next May to continue celebrating the trip of a lifetime.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloVatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, giolitti, gelatociao Roma!

 

 

 

Are you ready for some ruins?!

It’s Day two in Rome and you’ve got a date with a Gladiator in the Colosseum.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

There are several career paths you’re now husband has mentioned over the years that fit his personality type and high tolerance for pain. Firefighter. Police Officer. Top secret member of the U.S. Army Special Forces or Navy Seal. But a Gladiator? Weren’t they all unfortunate criminals or prisoners of war with no citizenship? Sure, some of the attributes line up: brute strength, athleticism, courage and enough craziness to fight to the death, but who would choose that path? Well, if you measure it in giddiness and chatter during our tour of the Colosseum, he would.

And apparently he wouldn’t be the only one. Even free men opted to enter the ring in search of glory and prize money. Confident in your abilities, my dear, but happy it’s no longer an option for you.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Having a hard time picturing what all this rock is about? Let’s revisit a classic scene to put us in the Gladiator spirit.

That’s better.

It’s really hard to believe this building still stands after thousands of years, earthquakes, floods and fires, but it does. There are parts of the massive arena that still showcase the original marble flooring as well as a reconstructed area that simulates what it looked like in its prime.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

You try not to compare it to familiar places like Soldier Field, but it’s hard not to when so many of today’s mega-stadiums resemble the same framework the Colosseum originated so many years ago. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Now uncovered, the area below the main floor housed two levels of compartments and included trap doors that could spring the animal up onto the main stage to excite the audience and challenge the gladiator. Kind of reminded me of the bushes behind my old Montessori school where I used to run an imaginary zoo. Much friendlier animals in my care, of course.
roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Thanks to high-end designers like Tod’s and Fendi, historic sites like the Colosseum and Trevi fountain are getting the funding for much-needed restorations that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Check out this recent 60 Minutes episode to learn more. It’s really fascinating.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

 

IMG_5130

We wrapped the Colosseum tour and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find our way out of the fiery maze that was the Roman Forum. Fortunately we had learned a lot about it the day before so the main focus became trying not to suffer heat stroke and keep our minds clear. The fresh water fountains helped.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

One of my favorite parts of the forum and surrounding hills were the contrast of bright poppies and fresh water against the red and brown rubble.
roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Remember popular 90’s game Labyrinth? Yeah it was kind of like that. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

That saying, all roads lead to Rome? Thanks to Augustus, technically all roads lead to this rock.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

After the forum, we headed back towards the hotel to try what our guide John said to be the most authentic and homemade gelato in the city. And with a line out the door 100 or so flavor offerings, I’d say he was right.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

We wrapped day two with an evening aperitivo on the rooftop followed by a heaping plate of carbonara. IMG_0423_2 IMG_0425

When in Rome!

Florence: Day 2: Under the Tuscan Sun

It’s Day 2 in Florence and you’re up early and ready to head out for a hike. And even though you packed enough workout clothes for nearly every day of your trip, you find yourself in them for the first time in over a week. You make a mental note to wear less luon when you get back to the states, likely short-lived but an effort nonetheless.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

It’s also the point in which you are reminded how much more organized your new husband is with clothes than you are. You make a mental note to try harder once your back home but when you’re reminded by seeing this photo approximately one month later, you realize you like the luon, that goal was also short-lived.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

You hike up towards the villas stacked in the hills surrounding Florence with the hope to see the panoramic landscape below. Only problem is your hike leads you on a two to three-mile uphill tour of narrow roads with thick, high walls. It’s still beautiful, and a great way to burn off the gelato, but you’ll soon realize you chose the local scenic route and they probably don’t care about seeing the properties of all their neighbors on the morning walks, either. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

It’s on your way down that the you finally catch a glimpse of what every book about a recently divorced woman who decides to search for her identity again in Italy, describes. Sweeping valleys filled with grape vines, sunshine-colored villas you swear you’ll come back and rent with your group of friends for your 40th birthday and Italian cypress trees. Lots of Italian cypress trees. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangeloFlorence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangeloFlorence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

 

I’m not quite sure how we got there, but we eventually made our way to the piazza de Michelangelo towards the end of our hike. We’d visit the real guy later that afternoon so it was neat to watch the buses drop off hundreds of tourists at the top of the city after we had sort of carved our own path (literally) along the scenic route. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

We took the short way home, just down a little winding road in the above picture and got cleaned up for breakfast at the same place we went the morning before.
Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Seeing Michelangelo’s “David” was perhaps the only time we paid too much to skip the line the whole trip. At this point we hadn’t pre-booked anything and had managed to see quite a bit by just the one person gets in a random line and the other walks to the front to make sure the random line actually gets us in the door strategy. David is a pretty popular guy in Florence so we figured he was worth it.Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Thanks to Michelangelo, I no longer feel self-conscious about my arm veins. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

That afternoon, we checked out the nearby leather district with intention to actually buy something. I can’t even remember the place, but suddenly I lost Matt and was somewhere in Vegas, trying to find my way out from the random corridors that let me to watches, jewelry and leather goods I could only afford if I got to take home half the pot of the guy with the gold pinky ring for being his good luck charm.
Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

I did learn how they get gold-leaf on leather, though!

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Our last night in Florence, after a snack of cheese and wine ate with a baby sugar spoon, we went to dinner at local spot Trattoria Casalinga. We’d heard good things about the family run restaurant and promised ourselves that even if we got stuck with the menu only being written in Italian, we’d just wing it. And wing it we did. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

We started with mixed crostinis and more antipasto than we realized we were ordering and enjoyed a tortellini with sugo (don’t ask but it was delicious) and a cut of veal (once again don’t ask but it was delicious).

We normally didn’t have room for dessert, but when we watched the grandmother of our waitress carry a fresh batch of her special merengue cake to the dessert counter below, we pushed through. And I’m so glad we pushed through. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Stick with me because next up, we head to Rome!

roma, rome, italian honeymoon, honeymoon, wedding, italy, colosseum,  IMG_0416_2

 

Florence: Day 1: A ridiculous amount of renaissance art

Today we kick off a two-day tour of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, home to Michaelangelo’s “David” and checking the box on everything I expected Tuscany to be.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

In just an hour or so on a high-speed train we arrived in Florence (Firenze) and made our way from the train station across the Ponte Vecchio bridge to Hotel La Scaletta.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Tucked away in a nook near the Palazzo Pitti or Pitti Palace was our gem of a hotel. The staff was wonderful, the tiny lift that could only fit the two of us OR our luggage was adorable and the views were breathtaking.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

After brunch and a cappuccino at a nearby cafe, we spent most of the morning browsing what’s said to be a ridiculous amount of renaissance art inside the Pitti Palace.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, IMG_4980 Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

Home to the Medici family as early as 1549, it took us hours to get through all of the residences of the family and their assistants. I was pleasantly surprised that Matt and I shared similar taste and tolerance for renaissance art, perhaps one of the few things our pre-marital questionnaire did not reveal ahead of the wedding. Crazy to think that it took us until the modern wing of the museum to see anything American.

That afternoon we ventured around the central part of the city towards the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo. Even with photos, it’s hard to explain how beautiful this gothic-style cathedral really is but perhaps mentioning that every green, pink and white detail you see is made of polychrome marble.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

We stopped for an aperitivo at local sweet spot Gilli and enjoyed the people watching in the Piazza de Republica. It reminded us both of Chicago, both the high-end shops and the group of twenty-something girls from Chicago drinking Champagne at the table next to us.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

That evening we had a dinner reservation on the roof of our hotel. I was expecting nice views, but the meal was one of the best we had the entire trip. The waiter was wonderful, the wine perfect and well the sunset, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art,

Next time I’ll introduce you to my guy David and tell you more about how much I didn’t want to leave this pretty city.

Thanksgiving replay

Happy Thanksgiving week! In honor of the upcoming holiday and because I just realized that the post I was going to share with you today is nearly identical to the one I wrote exactly one year ago today, I’m re-posting it for your enjoyment. Because what is Thanksgiving than a chance to eat the exact same thing you did the year before (cranberry salsa), watch the same football teams play each other and re-invigorate that same nauseous feeling you have every time you go overboard on stuffing. Without further ado:

Originally published on November 25, 2014. Edited for relocating purposes.

OMG it’s Thanksgiving week y’all!

I know. I can hardly believe it either.

I can hardly believe it because we’ve been experiencing full-on Christmastime weather here in Chicago summertime weather here in Florida. Saturday was the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, complete with 14 degree wind chills and boughs of frozen holly. Sunday was unseasonably lovely, complete with 80 degree temps and neighbors sweating while decking their halls.

As a staunch no Christmas cheer before Thanksgiving is here supporter, I must admit this weather is throwing me for a loop. Our rapid decline super cheery warm sunny weird November temps has me ever-so-close to NOT decking my halls. Pair that with an especially tempting out of context holiday collection from Target and I nearly broke my own cardinal red rule this season don’t know if I’ll ever get into the spirit this year.

I may even have purchased a pillow from the above collection new pair of sandals this weekend and tucked it away for later decorating wore them the next day.

What a difference a year makes

 

IMG_8431

So I invite you to join me in slowing down on the Christmas craziness. There’s plenty of time for finding the perfect palm tree. Weeks and weeks until you finally pick the last piece of glitter sand out of your hair. Let’s not be too rushed to miss the reason we gather together this week and stuff our bellies. After all, we’ve got Pilgrims to thank!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer you the most welcomed holiday recipe you will ever bring. On a buffet full of taupes, tans and cocoas, this red gem stands out not only in color, but in taste. I invite you to share it as an appetizer before your Thanksgiving feast, or carry it through your holiday parties into the New Year.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

It’s fresh. It’s sweet. It’s tangy. It’s your go-to contribution for potlucks all season long. Special shout out to my cousin Lindsey for bringing this on Christmas Day a few years ago. It’s really become the gift that keeps on giving.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

Holiday Cranberry Salsa 

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red pepper, seeded
  • 1/2 med red onion
  • 1/2-3/4 C sugar
  • 1/3 C apple juice
  • 1 jalapeno
  • zest of 1 lime (plus a little juice)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1/4 C)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Rough chop apples, peppers and onions. In a food processor, chop fresh cranberries. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add apple, peppers and onion to food processor. Chop until finely diced. Add to cranberries in bowl. Finally, chop cilantro. Add sugar, apple juice, lime zest and lime juice. Add cilantro and salt to taste.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

The sugar will start to pull out the liquid in the cranberries and so be sure to give it a few hours to sit. Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer, as a relish on turkey or over cream cheese with crackers.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. What a great time to be thankful for all we have been given this year.

View this post on Instagram

Da Fam, Da Bears, Da Treats!

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

 

Squash Season

One thing I love about fall is the pretty little gourds that fill the farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings. About as diverse as the people who shop for them, I’ve always had an affinity for collecting the weird-looking ones each season. The gourds, not the weird people. Not that there’s anything wrong with weird people. I don’t think you should make it your mission to collect them though.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually started cooking with these gourds. Growing up I was familiar with seeing things like summer squash and zucchini in dishes, but I never knew other types of squash could be so tasty.

Since I’m all about doing things fall even though it’s still 96 degrees outside this year, I decided to roast up a spaghetti squash the other night for dinner. I know what you’re thinking, no way is that going to take the place of the traditional pasta I know and love. And you would be right. The flavor is sweeter, the texture a little more, dare I say it, moist, and it’s a vegetable for goodness sake.

But isn’t it kind of cool that the weird-looking gourd you usually use to decorate your table each fall turns into these lookalike spaghetti noodles once it’s cooked? And that you can go for seconds or thirds without any guilt?

spaghetti squash recipes, meatless spaghetti, mushroom and shallot marinara, whole 30 approved spaghetti, vegetarian, italian, whole foods

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 C fresh tomato puree or paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice squash in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Drizzle olive oil on the flesh sides of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place flesh-side down on a foil-lined roasting pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until top of squash is soft to the touch.

spaghetti squash recipes, meatless spaghetti, mushroom and shallot marinara, whole 30 approved spaghetti, vegetarian, italian, whole foods

In a dutch oven, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Saute shallots until clear. Add garlic, mushrooms and chopped tomatoes. Add tomato paste and a little water if needed. Season with red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Let simmer until sauce thickens.

spaghetti squash recipes, meatless spaghetti, mushroom and shallot marinara, whole 30 approved spaghetti, vegetarian, italian, whole foods

Scrape flesh of squash into bowl. Add sauce just before serving.

spaghetti squash recipes, meatless spaghetti, mushroom and shallot marinara, whole 30 approved spaghetti, vegetarian, italian, whole foods

It’s vegetarian, whole30 approved, healthy, and it tastes good. Can’t beat those odds.

 

Honey Cornbread Muffins

I learned an important lesson this week while making cornbread muffins.

Don’t over-think things. Simple is best.

Who says the best lessons aren’t learned while baking anyways?

A few weeks ago I made a cornbread crumb cake that was delicious albeit a little time-consuming.

cornbread recipe, cake, recipes, cornbread cake crumble, dessert, breakfast, brunch, crumb cake, how sweet it is, instagram, baking, cornmeal

And yesterday I cooked up a batch of vegetarian chili and was looking for a quick corn muffin recipe to go along with it. Let’s avoid getting into the details as to why I felt the need to make chili when it was 96 degrees outside and focus on the fact I discovered a quick and simple corn muffin recipe in the process, shall we?

honey cornbread muffins, recipes, baking, corn muffins, side dishes, breakfast, dinner, dessert, chili, vegetarian,

I scanned several recipes, knowing I didn’t want to mess with anything vegan, jalapeno or healthy on this particular day when I settled on this one. Wouldn’t you know it turned out way better than my other more complicated attempts and it took half the time.

honey cornbread muffins, recipes, baking, corn muffins, side dishes, breakfast, dinner, dessert, chili, vegetarian,

Honey Cornbread Muffins

-adapted from The Neely’s via Food Network. Makes 6 muffins. Double recipe for 12. 

  • 1/2 C cornmeal
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 TBL baking powder
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 2 TBL cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a liquid measure, whisk melted butter, egg, milk and honey.

Add wet ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

Fill silicone baking cups or paper-lined tins 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with butter or extra honey.

honey cornbread muffins, recipes, baking, corn muffins, side dishes, breakfast, dinner, dessert, chili, vegetarian,

Enjoy!