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Wandering Rome: Trastevere’s hidden corner

February 17

A couple of weekends ago, after waking up unusually late to find a heavy grey sky outside the bedroom window and a lunch appointment lurking just over an hour away, I pulled on a wooly sweater-dress (my winter uniform for any situation in which I want to be both cozy and reasonably pulled-together), grabbed my […]

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A riot of colours: Photos from Ortigia’s vibrant market

November 20

I love a good market. This is not the same thing as saying that I love grocery shopping, because I generally don’t, particularly when it involves a rainy morning and an armload of too-heavy, clunky, very-nearly-waterlogged bags that I have to carry back to the apartment while juggling an umbrella. But markets in general are […]

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Sicily: Extreme south

November 07

On a still, muggy morning in the first week of August, we crammed the car with bags and suitcases and set off down the autostrada, direction South, just as the sun pushed its way over the horizon. We had somewhere in the vicinity of nine and a half hours on the road ahead of us […]

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A return to routine (and a recipe for a cake)

September 02

Rome in August: Envision a ghost town, a city empty except for throngs of red-faced tourists fanning themselves with maps. Envision closed stores, closed restaurants, closed coffee bars; metal serrande pulled down tightly over doors and vast swaths of empty parking spaces where it’s normally impossible to park. The best way to enjoy Rome in August […]

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A birthday, a boat and some islands

August 03

How do you fill the empty space that inevitably takes over the days after the best week ever is over and done with? You can mope around the apartment, hot and dark with all the shutters closed against the force of the summer sun. You can throw yourself back into cooking and trips to the […]

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Streets of food: Naples in a day

March 23

A few Saturdays ago, at 7:30am, I found myself sitting on a Frecciarossa train as it streaked towards Naples; Lazio blurring into Campania as green hills flashed by. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet – just a quick cappuccino downed in the train station – and the edges of my mind still felt heavy with sleep, but I […]

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Postcards from Sabina

January 15

My first visit to the region known as Sabina coincided with my first ever trip to Rome, years ago now, when I had booked six days in the city and then decided that one of them should be used to explore a small town within day-tripping distance. The list of potential destinations inside that radius is […]

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The wrong side of the road

August 07

I was introduced to my adversary, a tiny white hatchback car, in a nondescript parking lot in front of a bland-looking low-rise office building. It would have been the most unremarkable, non-threatening encounter ever, had the parking lot not been in Ireland and the office building not an outpost of a car rental company. But, as it happened, I was about to rent the car for four days, which meant that I was also about to drive on the opposite side of the road for the first time. The car, with an overall style that edged more towards adorable than aggressive, suddenly seemed like the most menacing thing I had encountered in a long time…

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Moments from a weekend on Procida

July 21

One: Lemon salad We were on the bus, jolting down a terrifyingly narrow street, when I learned how to make lemon salad. I was perched sideways on a slippery plastic bucket seat that made cracking noises whenever the bus hit a pothole or a poorly placed cobblestone, and Alessandro was wedged in the back with […]

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See Naples and die… in a taxi

June 26

I’m sure there are normal drivers in Naples. There must be. The entire city can’t possibly be made up of people who act like they honestly believe they’re in a high-speed car chase as soon as they slide into the driver’s seat, although after several (albeit brief) visits to the city, I have yet to […]

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A Sicilian weekend

June 19

Sicily is beautiful. I say this emphatically, even though what I should really be saying is that South-Eastern Sicily is beautiful, because I still haven’t seen the rest, and Sicily is a surprisingly large island. Still, every time I see another piece of it – a town, or a beach, or even just a sunlight-flooded piazza – I love it a […]

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Where every tourist has gone before

January 20

Two weeks ago I decided, rather abruptly, that I needed to see Venice. After nearly two and a half years of living in Italy I still hadn’t made my way to what is arguably one of the most famous cities in the world, even though the only thing standing between me and Venice had been three and […]

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