AGMA loves to eat.
This was not a problem when I was young, and chasing after two active boys and working and volunteering and exercising and cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.
You know – basically being the suburban superwoman superhero of mythical lore.
And I did it very well thank you very much. Sort of. Kind of.
Now that I have a “more leisurely” lifestyle, and since we were confined to the house for almost a year because of COVID, the eating hasn’t gone so well. Or maybe has gone too well. AGMA continued to eat. But without all of the other superwoman superhero activities of the past. And I can’t really running anymore (due to a variety of reasons) which was a YUGE factor in my ‘later in life’ weight control strategy.
20 pounds later, I’ve had to buy slightly larger clothes to fit my Ruben-esque frame. Yes, I AM cute and cuddly, but those extra 20 are a total drag.
AGMA is certain I could lose weight if I didn’t travel so often. I’ll get a start on eating healthier and exercising more, and then – BOOM! I go to France or Italy or Greece. Places that have some of the most delicious food in the world.
Seriously, a total first world problem. Or is it even a problem at all?
It doesn’t escape my notice that these countries are known for their healthy foods (the Mediterranean diet and all that) and active lifestyles. And a serious lack of Ruben-esque women. But I feel compelled to try all the different foods I can on a 2 week visit because there is just SO MUCH yummy stuff.
Honestly, AGMA is NOT going to eat salads for two weeks when there is cacio e pepe, gelato to die for, spaghetti carbonara, porchetta sandwiches, suppli & fried artichokes. To name a few.
I’m pretty sure something like that could be against the law.
I planned a birthday trip to Italy with an old friend for January 2022. This was going to be her first visit to Italy and she was pumped. But the Omicron variant was running rampant in Europe.
We were (and are) both fully vax-ed and boosted (and neither one of us had the shakes or ‘died suddenly’ – it’s a miracle!), so we weren’t too concerned about getting really sick if we got COVID. But at that time, the US was still requiring a negative COVID test to re-enter the US. Spending a week quarantined in a less than desirable COVID hotel in Italy at our own expense if we did test positive didn’t sound like fun.
So we cancelled the trip.
But my friend, being who she is, drove 6 hours last January to take me out for an Italian birthday dinner at Eataly in downtown Chicago. We had a wonderful dinner and a delightful visit.
What a gal!
Fast forward 12 months. The US isn’t requiring COVID tests to re-enter anymore. We both got our 2022 boosters (still no uncontrollable shaking or ‘sudden death’…) And I still have a birthday in January.
Time to get out the ole passport again and go to Italy (NOT Eataly!)
We left on January 4th and visited Venice first.
How is there even a city like Venice on the planet?
This was technically my 4th visit to Venice, but each visit has been very short. In 1976, I stayed 2 nights. I think. I barely remember. In 2008, Hubs and I went for 3 nights. In 2012, I was there for 1 night (long story to that one involving a woman we called Crazy Judy… I really don’t count this visit).
So AGMA was definitely ready to explore more of Venice.
I have to put in a word for traveling to Italy in early January…. The weather isn’t too bad – it was in the 40’s in Venice and in the 50’s in Rome. And hotel/Airbnb prices are almost half the cost of high season. In Venice, we stayed in a lovely hotel (breakfast included) that was 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge and 5 minutes to St Marks Square, for around $86 a night.
Aside from the weather & cost, most of the Christmas decorations are still up which made Venice appear more magical than it already is!
And every church, all over Italy, puts up a creche for Christmas that stays up for a good part of January. Most of the creches have the baby Jesus born in an Italian village complete with butchers, farmers, ladies doing the wash, people milking cows, bakers baking bread. You get the idea.
We said a very reluctant goodbye to Venice after 3 nights and took the train (the ONLY way to travel in Italy!!) to Rome.
Ah…Rome…. AGMA goes back and forth as to which is my favorite European city – Paris or Rome. Because I was in Rome this trip, it was Rome!
We stayed in a fantastic Airbnb very close to Piazza Navona in the center of Rome. A lucky (for us) mistake by our Airbnb hosts on the property we initially booked lead them to letting us book this apartment for a much lower rate than they normally charge. It was on the ground floor, literally 10 seconds from a street with great restaurants, and a 3 minute walk to Piazza Navona. The apartment was 2 levels with a full bath on each level. AGMA slept on the 1st level on a very comfy sofa bed, and my friend slept in the bedroom on the 2nd level. By Rome hotel standards, it was huge! We paid $70 a night. However, the “normal” winter rate at $100 a night is still an incredible bargain for the size, amenities and location, location, location!!
AGMA’s birthday was the day after we got to Rome. We did a Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel/St. Peters tour in the morning and met a delightful young South African woman (living in Switzerland) on holiday. She was young enough to be one of our daughters, but she had one of those amazing personalities that just loves people, no matter their age. She hung around with us after the tour and joined us for my birthday late lunch/early dinner at a little restaurant close to our Airbnb. We celebrated with spritzs and spaghetti carbonara, and the staff, and a group of Italian students eating there serenaded me with Happy Birthday in Italian.
Eataly, you were good, but come in a pale second to my 2023 birthday dinner!