Eating My Way Through Italy: Tivoli and Spoleto

We’re back to talking about food and Italy, two of my favorite things! Especially when combined 😉

In the first installment, I talked about the amazing food in Rome. Today, I want to share my experiences in two little towns, Tivoli and Spoleto.

white pizza & tiramisu in Tivoli

Cafe Ristorante Villa d’Este: The best tiramisu I’ve had. Ever.

Tivoli, a town on a mountain just outside of Rome, was our destination for an afternoon. We visited the Villa D’Este and ate a little restaurant just outside it. The ironic part: it rained a lot during our lunch, which meant we took our time and had dessert. I had a white pizza and the tiramisu!

Fancy dining and a colorful dessert in Spoleto

Albornoz Palace Hotel in Spoleto

In the mountain town of Spoleto, our accommodations were artsy and unique. In addition to the art eVerYwHeRe at the hotel, the food was magnificent! We were fed well, with an elegant four-course meal each night.

four courses in Spoleto

Ristorante Bar Canasta: the best affogato

I’ve already mentioned my love for affogato. The BEST I had on the whole trip was at this sunny spot in Spoleto!

assorted bread, gnocchi, and affogato at Canasta

What kinds of yummy foods have you encountered on your travels?

Eating My Way Through Italy: Rome

About a month ago, I went to Italy. It was an experience I will never forget. I traveled with a short term study abroad group affiliated with the college I work for. That means it was full of art, history, educational things, and LOTS of fun! I’ve been sharing Instagram pics like crazy.

This post is all about one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip: THE FOOD in Rome. Good food. Pizza, pasta, paninis, lamb, cannoli, CAPPUCCINOs, roasted chestnuts on the street and lemon torte in a cafe. Tiramisu.

If you’re going to Rome any time soon, I highly recommend the eating spots I list here! We did stay in the northeast part of the old city, near the train station, so most of the actual restaurants we patronized for dinner were within walking distance of that area.

I’ll be sharing more about food in other towns soon 😉

Artichokes, pizza, lamb, and cappuccino at La Famiglia Roma

Best overall: La Famiglia Roma

Canneloni, roasted lamb, pizza, artichoke Roman style, eggplant parmesan, cappuccino. With a menu in Italian and English, it was easy to discover new dishes! VERY affordable and friendly atmosphere! I ate there 4 times. I needed another week, at least, to try all of the items I wanted to on their extensive menu.

Diadema Restaurant – top 2 photos

Diadema Restaurant— streetside dining! Spaghetti was great!

treats from U. Giuliani!

Caffe Pasticceria U. Giuliani for cappuccino and sweet treats. Best cappuccino! They didn’t look twice at the crazy Americans ordering cappuccino after noon.

Exquisitaly for late night gelato and affogatos. An affogato is the BEST kind of gelato treat because it is 1-2 scoops of gelato with a shot of espresso on the top! Like the best “float” for coffee connoisseurs.

Affogato at Exquisitaly

Have you ever been to Rome? What are your favorite Italian foods? (And, more importantly, do you have any recipes to share?!)

Review: “A Portrait of Emily Price” by Katherine Reay

a-portrait-of-emily-price

Once again, author Katherine Reay has penned a contemporary novel with a complexity of skill not many in the genre can achieve with her newest release, A Portrait of Emily Price. And what a picture its pages holds! I would describe this as a family drama with a whirlwind (though always realistic) romance and a story of finding oneself in the middle of life’s chaos and joy. With a hint of whimsy, the story always stays realistic in a humidity-and-wavy-hairdo, too-much-espresso sort of way. And, in true Reay style, included literary references and nods to classic literature throughout (making this #booknerd very happy!)

About the Book

Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .

a-portrait-of-emily-priceEmily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

Review

I was fortunate to read this one along with some awesome blogger friends and discuss it on Twitter along the way. You can find our discussions and major fangirling by viewing the hashtag #PofEPRAL. 

Reay’s style is romantic in many ways, from Emily’s observations, place descriptions, to the overall feel of the story. Not rosy and idealistic, by any means, but sweet in its outlook — the storytelling is cleverly as much about what happens “between the lines” as what’s directly told. Like the family history, the nostalgia, the courtship between Emily and Ben, and the food!

The characters are strong in the sense that their personalities are so established you can almost sense their reactions as much as read them. When Ben and Emily finally make it to Italy, you can feel the tension and belonging of home in how the scenes play out. And the supporting characters!!!!!! I loved them all, the brother, sister, parents, friends, aunts and uncles. It was fun to put the big picture together as the story progressed of how they are each integral, whether in a small or big way, to Ben and Emily’s lives. Connected, if you will, to their story, to influence, encourage, and sometimes pass on valuable wisdom.

Another way the characters are firmly established is through setting and culture. For instance, the “accents” of Ben and his family are expressed specifically, conveying notes on inflection so well it made me feel like I was listening to them. And, the descriptions of all of the different places, from the little Italian restaurant in Atlanta to the sunflower fields and Lucio’s library in Italy and everything in between practically, made me feel immersed in the culture. This book is a true example of the power of written words on a page!

The relationship between Emily and Ben is shown just enough – it’s not overly focused on the romance aspect (though there are plenty of those moments that show just how romantic Ben can be <3) but instead tells just enough you see their closeness and camaraderie. I think it’s safe to say the reader falls in love with Ben, too, from the first chapter’s description (as Rissi quotes here):

Random side note: interestingly, eyes go on to play an important means of communication and meaning in the story.

I could go on further about the intricacies of this story and how it pushes you to think deeply about the impact your choices have on those around you; or even its gentle reminder to seize the moment and find happiness in the little moments of everyday life. But I’ll leave you with the important stuff it showcases: truth, joy, and love (of all kinds…. romance, friendship, family/sibling/parent, even love of your work). With a style only Reay can achieve, this story is polished and engrossing with vivid, heartful characters.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Booklook for the complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.