Warning for discussion of my struggles with an Eating Disorder.
We’re onto part three of my Italian adventure! This time it is a couple of the ‘post-drive’ places – aka, the places we drove to when we hired a car (& all the interesting, terrifying experiences that happened on the road… Italians drive like maniacs)! The first few places were Punta Ala, Porto Santo Stefano and Rome! I know this was going to be my last post on Italy, but I still have a couple more cities to talk about and didn’t want to make this post too heavy! So make sure to stay tuned for my final piece on the amazing adventure!
We hired the car from Pisa Airport, grabbing ourselves a fancy Seat Leon! We were excited to get on the road as we planned to drive down the coast and have a day in Punta Ala! Although I was insured on the car, my boyfriend drove the whole trip because the second we got out the airport, we realised that the roads were not as simple and orderly as (most of the time) the English ones are…
We got lost a couple of times, unintentionally went through toll roads that we had to pay for, and struggled with the parking in Punta Ala considering pretty much every part of it is privately owned, but we made it after a couple of nervous laughs! However, like I just wrote, it was a massively privately owned place, so we struggled to find things to do. We walked into the town to find somewhere to eat, literally only managing to find one restaurant that was ridiculously overpriced for two pizzas (they were pretty decent though). The place itself was so quiet which completely confused us, until we realised it was Siesta time… but even after the famous Italian nap time, everywhere was so quiet! So, we did a bit of exploring and eventually found the beach! It was smaller than we thought it’d be, but it was wonderful to have a time to just lie down and read. We did our first swim in the sea of the trip which was a lot of fun!!
We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but it was nice checking out Punta Ala! We set off to drive to our Villa in Porto Santa Stefano in the afternoon… and did not make it there until past 9pm! Let’s just say that driving down the coast in the dark with google maps not directing you to the right place, making your boyfriend have to turn around in a very narrow corner of a person’s driveway that was at the top of a steep hill was not pleasant to say the least! We arrived in the Villa so exhausted that the thought of going out for food was just too much. We had been to the supermarket on the way to the Villa so settled for snacking in our pyjamas that evening. Truthfully, being in Porto Santa Stefano was stressful for me at first; our Villa was situated about fifteen minutes from the town, where we’d googled that most of the places did seafood (something I did not like massively and that my boyfriend was allergic to) and also it was an expensive area. I was scared that the next day we would not find a restaurant I was comfortable with, despite my boyfriend’s constant reassurances. I didn’t want this to affect our trip, but it was terrifying thinking that being in this place could impact maintaining my recovery.
The next day, luckily we had a breakfast included in our stay. We munched on a delicious buffet of sandwiches, croissants and pastries! We sat at a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea! It was a perfect start to the day. We then decided we would drive down to Beach Le Cannelle. With our tummies full and sun cream slathered on, we drove there (a lot more easily than the day before) and grabbed an easy parking space about a twenty minute walk from the beach. This beach was where I snorkelled for the first time (!!!!) We brought our own snorkelling masks and we barely had even put our stuff down before we were running in the sea. Snorkelling was honestly one of my favourite moments from the whole trip. It was incredible seeing all the little fish in such clear blue water. I felt so happy and grateful in that moment that I thought I could cry! Words can’t explain how amazing the experience was! It distracted me from all the worries I had had the night before, and instead I felt so lucky to be here. We sat and read by the beach as we dried off, soaking in the sun and just enjoying being at peace.
In the evening, the fear came back about what we were going to do for tea. We walked into the town fairly early to give us time, and of course, we found a beautiful, affordable restaurant straight away. All my anxieties and stress was resolved so quickly. I sadly didn’t make note of the restaurant’s name, but it was right by the sea! After a tasty little bread basket, my boyfriend got salmon fishcakes for a starter. I tried one and they were a weird texture but actually really nice! I then had a creamy, cheesy tagliatelle for my main meal with… truffles! I’d never had them before, and they were AMAZING! That dish as a whole is definitely up there as one of my favourite meals from the trip! This was a day of firsts!
Rome (3 nights)
We arrived in Rome in the afternoon the next day, staying in a gorgeous, modern apartment just outside the city centre (thank god). After settling in and sorting ourselves out, we walked to the Vatican City! It was a lot smaller than we expected, but was still just as stunning as we dreamed! We decided we would go inside Vatican the next day, so after a few cheeky photos in front of the fountain and around the buildings, we made our way towards Rome city centre.
We ended up taking an (unplanned) visit to Castle Saint Angelo! It was a walk up to the top of the castle with lots of information along the way. Despite not even knowing this building existed, we enjoyed it so much and got a beautiful panoramic view of the city. It was lovely to have a little insight into the city we will be exploring for a few days! We headed to the Jewish Quarters for tea, a place with plenty of restaurants to choose from! We ended up dining in at a cosy restaurant called Nannorella. It was busy when we arrived so we knew it must be good! And it did not disappoint! I had a cheesy, vegetable tagliatelle (along with some wine… it’s just so good here, okay!) with an extra little salad! We both headed back to our apartment with happy tummies (as well as being surprisingly tipsy – I think the break from Uni culture has dropped my alcohol tolerance to, like, 3…)
The next day we set off early to go inside The Vatican! I’d recommend getting tickets online beforehand because the queue can get pretty hectic! When we got inside, we were greeted with an incredible and colourful interior. Everything was to intricately detailed. Sadly the Pope wasn’t at home though, so didn’t get to meet the big guy; we were a tad disappointed and 100% wanted our money back…
After a morning spent in awe visiting the stunning Vatican, we set off into the centre again to see Trevi Fountain! We got there to find that it was packed! It was so busy that it was almost a shoving war to get as close to the fountain as we could! It was a pretty fountain and we managed to snap some photos before another pair of tourists shoved to claim their spot, but jeez it was so busy that the area needed security blowing whistles at any person who would try and sit on the fountain walls!
After a hectic morning of queues and crowds, we knew we deserved a yummy lunch to power us through the afternoon! We went to Pane e Salame that offered a variety of different, interesting sandwiches. I went for a vegetable and cheese sandwich, whereas my boyfriend opted for a more tuna-ey one… and they were the best sandwiches we had had all trip. They were gigantic AND the bread was so incredible and soft! The fillings were creative and worked well! A little spoiler, but lets just say we had our lunch sorted for the next day…
Even after a tasty, filling sandwich, we still wanted to have more food after we saw that Rome had.. a Lindt Store! Not gonna lie, I was a bit apprehensive at first, already feeling full and struggling to comprehend that it was okay to eat more if I knew I would enjoy it. I spent a few minutes eyeing the menu through a more disordered mind, and almost felt like it would be too much to get something; but I knew that that would be letting my eating disorder win – Lindt chocolate is one of my favourite brands (although I have just started a job at Hotel Chocolat so not sure if I should be saying that!) and I knew that whatever I would be trying would be delicious! So I thought about my values, my boyfriend was patient as I indecisively went through every option on the menu and got a liiiittle frantic… but finally we both got ice creams, and sat inside to enjoy them. Despite it being a bit of a battle to get another thing to eat, I am proud of myself for pushing through the unhealthy thoughts and reminding myself that food is supposed to be enjoyed!
After a fun day of exploring the city and eating some of the best food, we decided we would cook tea in our apartment to have time to relax for the evening. We made a yummy vegetable spaghetti bolognese with a salad bowl! It was lovely sitting outside on the balcony with lovely food and wonderful company!
Our final full day in Rome was spent going inside The Colosseum! It was so fascinating walking around and reading all about this battleground! There was so much to explore and it was a really interesting experience. Once again, I would recommend getting tickets online beforehand as they have allocated slots when you can visit, so getting them last minute may leave you waiting around. It’s definitely worth a visit, and if you get tickets online, you can get access to the Roman Forum too! However, before we went to the second part of the experience, we, of course, had to grab a couple of those incredible sandwiches! We normally like to try new places to eat, but these sandwiches were just so incredible that we had to come crawling back…
Whilst we were getting lunch, we also noticed something pretty amazing; there was an all year round Christmas Shop! If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I am one of the most festive people! It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, if you throw some tinsel at me and blast some Bublé, I will get right into the Christmas spirit. So needless to say, this Christmas Shop visit was an absolute treat (even in September)! After I got excited over a few baubles, we headed back towards The Colosseum to walk around the Roman Forum. It was a historic and enlightening experience, but after a lot of walking, we didn’t quite manage to check out the whole area. I was getting really tired because of the heat, so we headed back to the apartment for some well deserved rest!
So, after being in a busy setting, we set off early the next day to drive to the Amalfi Coast which was going to be a big difference in atmosphere (or so we thought…). However, Rome was a lovely city to explore! Despite the hustle and bustle, we got some exciting little trips in and some incredible dishes devoured!