It was July 2004. My husband accepted an overseas job in Rome. We packed up our household goods and sold our home in suburban Seattle. Armed with a few Italian phrase books and gluttonous fantasies of pizza and pasta, we embarked on our journey and new life in Italy.
The Stuff of Memories
Everyday things that Italians do or enjoy fascinated me. I learned to revel in the quotidian aspects of living in Rome: the abundance and heady perfume of fresh fruit and vegetables at the outdoor markets, a good cup of cappuccino, restaurants built in and among ruins, and Sunday church bells pealing in the distance.
We discovered our favorite restaurant in Rome tucked into a spot in Campo dei Fiori called Hostaria Costanza. Serving some of the best dishes like deep fried, cheese stuffed zucchini flowers, foie gras pate with mascarpone, and tender Chateaubriand, Costanza is housed under Pompey’s Theater. Dining under the vaulted ceiling and among the roughhewn stones that have stood for over 2000 years, you experience a part of history that is indescribable.
For me, one of the most unforgettable and beautiful places of Italy exists north of Rome in the National Park of Monterano. My family and I took many short day trips here to bask in the sun, hike through ruins, walk under an aqueduct, witness volcanic gorges, and climb into caves. There is even a fountain by Bernini and the stone remnants of an Etruscan city at Monterano.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Italy
I was not much of a wine aficionado when I went to Italy. In hindsight, I wish I had known more about the different types of wine of Italy and had enjoyed more of it while I was there.
The whole country is steeped in millennia of history. I wish I had studied in greater depth Italian history in order to fully appreciate the culture and architecture of everything I saw.
To those who have dreamed of going to Italy – don’t hesitate – go there! Of course, read the guide books but try to get out and marvel at daily Italian life. Rent a car and explore the towns, ruins and parks outside of Rome. You will be amazed at what you see and find.