Keep Exploring

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~~ Ciao ~

This is post number three, as I share my journey moving from South Africa to Rome. If you didn’t get a chance to read the first two, check them out here: Be Brave and Embrace Change.

As always, glad to have you join me on this journey, enjoy!

~~ Keep Exploring ~~
April 2016

My eyes and heart had opened up to this new experience.

After being in Rome for the last week, I realised that, it doesn’t bite, that people are people, and that I could possibly fit in. One of the main things that helped me change my mindset, was seeing that people weren’t laughing at me when I said my Italian phrases 🙂 It’s a little nerve-racking walking up to a busy counter and asking for something in Italian, worrying that they may just ask you something you don’t understand. I was self-conscious. But… I instead found them to be lovely. They seemed to realise that I was foreign, and really appreciated me trying.

I’d gotten a little spring in my step, like the kid inside me had woken up a little. Youthful eyes, up early, wanting to go and explore. Around every corner was something new, and it was exciting!

Rome map - We were hereAbove: Rome is a big city, so there was a lot to see.

Over the next few days we continued to discover Rome, little by little. We kept reminding ourselves that we now lived here so we didn’t need to try see everything at once, and we took our time, letting ourselves just wonder a bit.

For this post, I just want to capture some of my favourite discoveries during this time.
I sadly didn’t take many photos, which may be a good sign. I was simply immersed in the experience, and not even thinking to take out my phone to take snaps.

Rome is a wonderful city, with layers of wonder, from the gritty graffiti to the refined Villa Borghese, from local to tourist. I feel like it’s going to take me years to truly discover this place, but here are some of the first and favourites:

Public Transport – Made for movement 

Gosh I loved this. Coming from South Africa, and never having lived in Europe, this was a serious plus for me. I’m at my happiest when moving, so to be able to move around the city in a free and active way was really good for me.

Public Transport in RomeAbove: First we got familiar with the bus routes, and then the metro lines. From there we’d move on to the trams, trains and a scooter.

After getting familiar with the buses, it was time for some Metro.
Zipping along from stop to stop, I was in heaven. On the metro I saw a couple of people (obviously seasoned locals) looking so cool, standing, no hands, on their phones or immersed in a book! When I saw this, I’d watch them and think that’s so for me! I practiced standing without holding on, keeping my balance by standing in the right angle and bending either knee slightly depending on if the train was accelerating or slowing down. I’d started engaging in silly little things like this, very different to my mindset the week before.

Public transport is something special. You’re able to just go. Hopping on and off, stopping along the way. It gives you the opportunity to live a far more active lifestyle, and to engage with the city.

Street Living – Life out of boxes

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Europe was to be outside more, street living so to speak. I wanted to walk outside more, be more active, outside of a car.
Hopping on and off buses, the metro and tram. Popping into this place, walking more, sitting by the river, jumping onto the metro, walking down another street, having a caffè, and so it goes.

Moving around more makes my spirit happy, and keeps my body moving which is a healthy way to live. There’s something about it that makes me feel more connected. You see people, of all ages, all the time. People are out and about, hanging out, friends sharing a pizza and a birra (beer) in a piazza, groups chatting together around a little table or at the bar counter over espressos, riding their scooters around (often sliding their cellphones into their helmets so they can chat while they drive haha!), sitting in the park on a bench, getting fresh water at the fountain, riding their bicycles (sometimes while eating a pizza slice – the dream!), chilling by the river on the bridge.

There is a buzz of life in all forms, all over the city. Less time in boxes, and out in the streets, engaging with one another and the city. Of course, phones are everywhere, but hey, some things about the modern world you just have to accept 🙂

Trieste – There is just something about it

We were now ready for some proper Italiano pastries. We’d been on the Whole30, eating super clean, and it was time to have a serious day (or week) off! I did some research, and discovered a place called Pasticceria Marinari. We got on the bus and off we went, to this new area, in search of traditional pastries.

This was one worthwhile visit. Let me tell you, this place does not mess around, it is one serious Pasticceria (Pastry Shop). If you’re ever in Rome, give this place a visit.

Pasticceria MarinariAbove: Our first pastries from Pasticceria Marinari, and not our last!

Besides enjoying incredible pastries, we discovered Trieste, an area in north east Rome.
We both just fell in love with this area. Calm and cool at the same time. It almost had a similar atmosphere to the area we’d been living in in Johannesburg, Dunkeld West, obviously with the added layers of Rome buzz.

Salario Trieste AreaAbove: These aren’t my photos, but start to give an idea of the areas atmosphere. I’ll go back soon and do a proper review with lots of photographs.

After discovering the area, we went back countless times to Corso Trieste, Trieste’s Main Street. Any excuse to go to Trieste, we’d be there in a flash.

We’d visit the cinema, Cinema Lux, to watch Batman vs Superman, and then to see The Jungle Book, having a slice of amazing pizza at a cute little place around the corner before the movie.

Cinema Lux, Trieste RomeAbove: Cinema Lux. I really like this cinema, as it shows some movies in English, it’s got very cool comfortable seats, fun and colourful tickets, and even has free wifi – you get the wifi password printed onto your movie tickets.

We’d also visit a wonderful cafe La Cannoleria Siciliana across the road from Pasticceria Marinari to get a caffè, Cannoli (Sicilian pastry dessert) or some Arancini (Italian rice balls). Luca and I had made Arancini before in South Africa, but getting them here was obviously at another level. Later I would discover a snack called Suppli but that’s for another time 🙂

Trieste just had that something special we were after, and we wanted to live here. We started flat-hunting, and went to see an apartment. It didn’t turn out to be right for us, but we were adamant we’d eventually find the perfect place. There was just something in the air in Trieste.

Of course, as our journey went on, we’d discover that there was so much more to Rome, and we’d discover a whole new world south west of Trieste.

After a couple months here, I’ll do a special review on a few of the areas we’ve experienced in Rome, along with more photos. They each have their own something special. Until then!

Fresh Food – Igniting my Passion

I’ve been into food and nutrition for quite a while. Moving to Rome took it to another level. And it’s not about simply eating. Don’t get me wrong, I could eat all day out on the streets of Rome, but it was more than that.

Food is part of the Italian culture. It’s part of the fabric of their society, and it naturally forms part of their everyday lives. This was a special discovery for me, as I’ve been on a journey of appreciating the food I eat, and Rome was inspiring me to do it even more.

Luca and I had been on the Whole30 for 2 months when we arrived in Rome.
We’d been off all sugar, dairy and gluten. We were feeling light and great, but now faced a big challenge being in this world of incredible pizzas, pastas and pastries.

We didn’t actually go off the rails, not at this point. We stuck to eating pretty healthy, and just had the odd treat here and there. We didn’t even have cornetti for breakfast, it was eggs or fruit all the way. It’s only a couple months later when we went completely off the rails, I mean, eventually you’ve got to 🙂

Food Discoveries so far:

Dairy: I hadn’t eaten dairy in a while. Being in Rome, I realised that this just wouldn’t work, at least not for now. The dairy quality and selection is top-notch, and really well-priced. First up, Mozzarella! Luca wanted me to taste real mozzarella as he put it, I was ready, let’s go! Off we went to the local supermarket, and got some fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olives. Once home, we put out everything onto the dining room table. I looked down at the gorgeous looking mozzarella sitting on the breadboard, appreciating it’s very existence. We cut into it and tasted it plain – it melted in my mouth like butter… What an experience… to taste such quality, you really come to appreciate each and every ingredient like the Italians do. Mozzarella had  been my favourite cheese to date, but today I felt like I’d tasted it for the first time.

We ate most of the Mozzarella plain and then made little tasty stacks with the rest. During this initial food experience, I was enjoying it so much that I have hardly any photos to share with you. I think that no photos can often be a good sign 🙂

Mozzarella for the first timeAbove: Here is my one photo our Mozzarella pomodoro basil stack.

Caffè: I’m a coffee lover, and coffee addict. I love it. And so do the Italians, it’s part of their culture. I was starting to feel like I belonged here. I just love that Italians love there coffee so much and that they have so many traditions around it. Seeing them standing at the coffee bar in the morning having an espresso and chatting, perhaps eating a cornetti. Then dashing off.

I’d moved from instant coffee a couple years back, to our treasured Bialetti stove-top coffee. I’d also moved from milk and one sugar, to no sugar or milk. I was at the Caffè Americano stage in my coffee-drinking when we arrived in Italy. I would sometimes get a bit of a funny look from the barrister when I ordered a Caffè Americano – I later learned that it basically slaps ‘I’m an uncultured foreigner’ onto your forehead. They think: Why add hot water to your espresso, what an insult! Can’t you handle it? Why water down the taste!?

Coffee Addit in RomeAbove: To the left is how my google maps was looking, as I started to save Caffè Bars I wanted to visit.

Pasta: I also hadn’t had pasta in a few months, besides one celebratory evening in Johannesburg when a friend came over for dinner and we made fresh pasta with a pasta machine she’d given Luca as a birthday present. Today, in Rome, we decided we were having a treat meal, and homemade Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams) was on the menu.

We’d spotted a Pastificio (fresh pasta shop) down the street, and thoroughly enjoyed being able to walk down the road and get some fresh pasta, where we could select the one we wanted, and pay by weight. Along with some fresh Vongole (clams) from the supermarket, we made one corker of a meal!

It felt so good to be going to each place to get our ingredients specially. I felt a connection to my food, as though I was truly appreciating each and every ingredient. I connect with the Italian way, how they use less ingredients, paying extra attention to using quality ingredients and pairing them well together so that each ingredients flavour comes alive.

Fresh PastaAbove: This was our first Spaghetti alla Vongole

Fresh bacon: Even though the Italianos aren’t into hot breakfasts (they prefer something sweet, like a fresh cornetti), we visited a Macelleria (butcher shop) and got 100 grams of fresh bacon. This was such a wonderful experience – Fresher, healthier (all natural, no preservatives), and so much tastier. It also lasted a while, turning into a very cost effective option. Along with my newly found love for eggs, this was a great addition!

I was loving this new way of life surrounding me, especially this natural and deep appreciation for food. Fresh food, using less but quality ingredients, propelling my food journey in the perfect direction.

Buy it fresh, eat it fresh, fresh fresh fresh!

Okay, that’s enough for now on my food discoveries.
As you’ll see, food comes into my posts often in Rome, which seems completely natural. This blog will also be evolving over the coming months, and will, at a later stage, include a health and food section, for things like recipes and reviews and other inspiring health posts.

All in all, Rome was feeling like the perfect place for me.
Be it the chaotic buzz of life on the streets, the love of food or coffee, I was forming a connection.

Rome is a big place with a lot to discover!
We’d planned our 10-day roadtrip and were leaving the next day.
I’m going to miss this place, but ready for a new phase in this adventure.

This world is so full of wonder, with so much to discover.
Thinking back on my last post Embrace Change, it’s so important to change it up a bit in our lives, in big and small ways. Try add a sparkle of adventure to each of your weeks – It may be as small as having fresh grapefruit for breakfast as something new to taste, or spending an hour immersing yourself in a new book, or going on a picnic in a lovely park with someone you haven’t seen in a while (even alone just to hang out with you). Read more about Artist Dates and make a list of the things you love doing (whether you’ve done them or not), and try to do one, once a week, with someone or alone. Give yourself that 1-2 hours a week to explore and enjoy, you deserve it.

Keep remembering that, no matter our age, inside all of us, is our inner child. 
And that inner child loves to explore, to discover, to keep experiencing the world with a sense of wonder. Give in to your inner child, and spend a little more time doing the things that you love, the things that make you come alive in this wonderful world.

See you in a couple days for some road-tripping!

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