Tag: black female solo travel

…my favorite Roma cafe

Thinking of espresso again today, I want to note that of course I found my favorite coffee spot only a few days before departing Roma last year!

I was supposed to meet an SGI member at Stazione Termini for a morning coffee that day and she stood me up.  Anyway, instead of walking back along my normal route home from Termini, I decided to walk a few blocks out of my way. I ended up going to a cafe and ordered a macchiato and cornetto, but they didn’t put latte in my cafe so I drank it without. I couldn’t remember if a macchiato had latte or not, and I didn’t feel like asking. Anyway, I left there and continued to walk out of my way and came upon the Piazza di Santa Maggiore. Ah, finalmente! The place on my map!

I saw a stylish looking cafe across the street and decided to try this cafe thing one more time. First off, the gentleman at the front greeted me kindly, and in my broken Italian, I asked for a cappuccino. He was very nice and told the barrista what I wanted.  The workers were young and multicultural — it looked like every nationality worked there. I loved it! And they were all very friendly and accommodating – I guess so, since I was the only person at the bar!

Piazza di Santa Maggiore

I never had a chance to return to the cafe before I returned to the states, however, I will stop by again the next time I’m in Rome.

To the city with the best coffee in the world – Ciao Roma!!


…10 things that are more convenient in the States than in Roma

As an addendum to my “10 things that make Roma troppo speciale”, here is another list of observations of those things that are, well, a little less convenient.  Casual observations, mind you.

1. Laundry. First of all, we have dryers in the States. Not so, in all of Italy. Those picturesque shots of clothes hanging from windows? It’s for necessity, not just to make your photo album look authentically rustic. I guess it requires too much electricity to run, and why waste the fast drying heat of the sun? Which might also explain why everyone washes their clothes at night. FYI – do not even think of going to a local laundromat either, a lavenderia. It will cost you over 20 euro to wash and dry three loads. I found out through a friend who was suckered into using it…

2. Staples. The fact that we have Staples and/or Office Depot is a blessing. Finding a location in Roma to copy your cv on quality paper is a pain. Especially one that has business hours that most of us are accustomed to.

3. Shopping hours. Wallowing in the brilliance of this European city, I still missed 24-hour stores.  In Italy maybe a shop will open at 10am, maybe not. Maybe they will close for lunch for 3 hours, hey, maybe not. Maybe they won’t open at all. You shop on their time, ok? Because they really don’t need your business.

4. Pavement. As a woman, you’d have a better time walking in the street swerving out of the way of speeding taxis than footing it on the pavement. Especially if you’re wearing cute heels. Otherwise, cobble-dy, cobble-dy, cobble-do — oh wait, did I just break my ankle??

5. Streets. As I mentioned, its better to runway walk in the streets if you’re rocking some high heels and a nice outfit. However, figuring out which direction cars are coming from when you’re attempting to cross the street is another story. While you’re assuming you are safe by looking both ways, you might get hit from some Vespa scooter traveling from an entirely unexpected direction. Watch out!

6. Stoves. Thank goodness that my American-made (or at least made-for-American-use) gas stovetop turns on when I turn the knob. I do not have to sit and count for 10+ seconds so that the gas will remain on. Nor do I need a match to light the burner, and then hold it for 10+ seconds to make sure the the gas remains on.

7. Towels. Ok, who knew that buying a towel would be such an ordeal? Or linens, for that fact? There are few specialty linen stores (where? I didn’t see one!), and of course there is a blessed absence of Target/Walmart/Kmart (well, maybe a Conad superstore out in the rural areas), but that still meant it took me a week to find a place a buy a decent bath towel. And only because I asked my host family. After all that, I had to leave my beautiful celedon colored towel at Ms. Gx’s home since it took up too much space in my luggage. So much for trying to find things on my own.

8. Libraries. I love libraries. I swore I would visit a few in Rome while I was there. However, historical landmarks that are as far as the eye could see(squirrel!) — helped me avoid visiting any institutions of higher learning except my language school while there. Roma, you make things so difficult!

9. Wawa. For my east coast people, you know what I’m talking about. 24- hour made-to-order sandwich delight after a late night of debauchery. Or Haagen Daz coffee ice cream.  They also sell clothing detergent and razor blades if you need those too.

10. Mani-Pedis. I’m sure the women in Roma visit salons, and I’m sure they get mani-pedis. However, where, I just do not know. I saw one salon that offered manicures throughout my entire two months there, maybe two. I must be honest, I really wasn’t looking for any salons since I highly doubt that any of the stylists there have worked with natural hair as resplendent as mine. (yeah, I said it)  I’m sure there are many salons/mani-pedi establishments, but they were not obvious, just like most of the good places in Roma.

Dear readers, I absolutely adore Roma. Maybe Siena and San Gigmignano a little bit more. However, the most important lesson I learned was this:

when in Rome, do as the Romans do…


…sorry Luca, Gianna is now my favorite guide…

Ok, I’ve held on to this post for a long time as well. I didn’t want to bump Luca from his prime position, but I must.

Of the three guides from my Italian language school, I must pass the title of favorite to Gianna. No worries, Luca is a very close second. Thisclose.  However Gianna was so easy to understand, I felt like I didn’t need anyone to help me translate. Maybe it was because I prefaced our tour by asking her to explain the sites as if she were talking to a five year old…

We visited an area called EUR in Rome on my last passeggiata. It is an area that was created during the Mussolini era.

The structures here were quite stark and seemed to lack individual character.  Especially compared to the brilliantly intricate structures in the well known parts of the city!

Everything looked so stoic and uptight. We viewed many Mussolini figures as well, and fascist structures that represented his ideology. It was quite interesting and I’m glad that we took this tour.

I highly suggest to anyone considering classes in Italy, to also attend any passeggiate that are offered.  Any extracurricular activity that a school offers, please take. It offers an unfiltered view of the city and you absorb more Italian as you listen to the tour.

Viva di apprendimento!

…what did you do on the farm?

I meant to write this post a looooong while ago, however my manifold activities have distracted me from posting.

I’ve been asked this question so many times since I’ve returned to the states.  Actually, I think my stint on the farm might be unusual because they had a huge storm about a month before I arrived in March,  and it totally ruined many of the plants and trees.  As a result, remaining trees needed pruning and branches needed to be removed.  My host, Ms. Gx, is a TROOPER. Meaning that she did everything around the house and more. I don’t know how she handled this property all by herself, because it is an expansive property. Not only the property, but the garden, the animals, the cooking and cleaning daily for her family and friends who regularly stop by.  However, that’s where my volunteer work began. I helped fill in the gaps.  So here’s what my normal routine comprised:

First thing I did after my morning shot of espresso was feed the dogs. They were so lovely, and I miss them so much! I’m neutral when it comes to dogs, except I’m not particularly fond of pocketbook dogs.  Hey, that’s because I like my dogs like I like my men — sturdy. That’s probably why I want a Great Dane? Ha! Anyway — I adore these dogs. They run up to me, give me lots of love, and wait patiently while I mix their food with last nights’ leftovers. I love them so much!

Dog bowls – Feedin’ time!

Next, I fed the chickens:

Starter bin of food for the chickens
Feedin’ time for the chickens. And the turkeys. And the ducks.
I picked these eggs!

After feeding the chickens I would pick the eggs. Warm, they were! And extra fresh!



I don’t know if this is Luna or not. There were two horses, mama and daughter, yet I can’t remember the others’ name. It began with an ‘F’. Why can’t I remember?  Anyway, I would usually make sure that they received big bins of fresh water and hay daily.  I don’t know if you can see in this picture, but there is an electric fence that shocked me on several occasions – I couldn’t see it! I hated that thing – I almost clotheslined myself several times.

Olive branches in piles

Look at the lovely piles I made! Ok, consider many such piles all around the farm. All day, every day, picking up and collecting branches to place them in piles.  Eventually to be transferred to the home for the fireplace, or recycled for burning.  The turquoise wheelbarrow became my constant friend and companion. Work was hard and grueling, yet I enjoyed how I felt after a days’ work.

I wish I had taken pictures of one of our family meals. Ms. Gx is the best cook, and I must say, her food was the best I had my entire time in Rome. Sorry restauranti di Roma, take a lesson.

The smaller garden

Sometimes I had a chance to collect arugula for the day’s dinner – exciting! I was so careful with how I handled anything in the garden – being a city girl, I couldn’t tell the weeds from the produce. I remember saying how lovely and colorful a ‘plant’ looked, and Ms. Gx telling me that it was a weed.  :-/

Either way, she liked how I treated her garden and that I wanted to learn more. Eventually I would like to have my own garden, but in the meantime I will practice in others’ until I get the hang of it.

Italian washing machine

I also washed and hung the clothes and linens, cleaned the dishes at every meal, and/or did whatever odd jobs needed done around the house.  The washing machine was pretty self-explanatory, but it was odd to wash only at night.  The luxury of being an American is that we wash whenever the mood suits us.

The Grotto, from outside

One of my random projects was to clean the Grotto, inside and out. Just sweeping, of course.  A HUGE job, but someone had to do it. It was formerly a Etruscan tomb, or at least that what Ms. Gx believes it to be. I could feel a dampened energy while I was sweeping inside, which prompted me to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo the entire time I was there, and to sweep as quickly as I was physically able to do.

Ms. Gx home

Overall I had a wonderful time here, and I miss Ms. Gx and her family. I hope to return soon, for more of la vita bella!

…10 things that make Roma troppo speciale

  1. Leather stores with no websites. Because, yes, you too can only get this leather bag from Italy. So hop a plane, because its not online.
  2. Random water fountains. Not that I would drink from these structures for fear of catching pigeon flu, but its cool to see them randomly appearing as I walk.
  3. Hygienic plastic gloves at the supermarket. I mentioned these in an earlier post. The smartest waste of plastic ever.
  4. Tourist booths. The fact that there are so many historical locations that a city needs tons of tourist booths. BAM! Start learning.
  5. Sink foot pedals. Yet another hygienic idea. Primitive yet perfect. I don’t have to touch the nasty handle that someone else touched who did not wash their hands. Thank you!
  6. Extended hellos and goodbyes.  Ciao, ciao, ciao, baci, baci, baci, come stai, bene? Bene, bene, bene.  Yep – that’s all from one person to someone they’ve just met.
  7. Stovetop espresso makers. I love these damn things. Stainless steel though, not aluminum. I smuggled coffee bricks back to the States, and yep, I just bought one from Ikea a few days ago.
  8. Salmon steak for 3 Euro. Ummm, yeah. The best tasting salmon. Ever.  I seasoned it with only sale grosso and pepe nero, and sauteed it in some olive oil.
  9. Ancient structures in between modern buildings. Because who can fault a city for keeping its history, historical and relevant?
  10. PDA.  I love public displays of affection. Not the kind that makes you wonder if there is a candid camera nearby, but just genuine displays of affection. Its a beautiful thing.

…mi dispiace…ancora una volta

Ciao a tutti!

Oh my fellow readers…I have been back in the States for a little over a week now.  Unfortunately I caught the Roman flu just one day before my return and I’ve been holed up in my home with no contact with the outside world since then. I am feeling much better now!

However, although I have returned to the bright lights and big city, I still have more Roman stories to tell.  I will continue to post about my Italian adventure, my discoveries, and my revelations — there’s still so much more to share.

Looking forward to your observations and comments!

~ Signorina Bella

…who am I?

Deepak Chopra proposed the following questions to Oprah on her Lifeclass:

Who am I?

What do I want?

What’s my purpose in this life?

What are my unique skills and talents?

What do I expect in a meaningful relationship?

The answer to these questions should not include what one does (for a living, as an example), or the role that one plays (mother, as an example). Roma has opened up my heart space more than it was before, and so now I am going to take a deep breath, sit still and attempt to answer these questions.

I am writing a new story for myself.