Rome, Italy, Part I

When a temple was announced in Rome in 2008, I, along with probably every other member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints imagined being there when it was finished and dedicated. That was 3 months before Lauren was born and an entire lifetime ago. Fast forward past Tessa’s birth in Texas, our move to London about 2 1/2 years later, a couple of years in Manhattan and then living in Tel Aviv where we are actually in the district for the Rome temple during its completion! Each of those cities we lived in was a specific launching pad to the next place and the next place that eventually brought us this close to Rome and the new temple. While we knew the chances of getting tickets to the dedication were decidedly small, we went for it anyways. When Brian opened the email on Shabbat, right before we left for church and it read that we had been granted tickets inside the temple, we both felt incredibly humbled for the blessing we had just been given and the chain of events that brought us here in our lives. We bought plane tickets that day for our entire family and the excitement began to set in.

We woke up early- 3 AM- for our flight to Rome with all six of us. When we touched down in Italy, I immediately felt a sense of relief and stress leaving me. It was the strangest feeling- one that I certainly had not anticipated. I can only attribute it to the underlying tension that always exists in Israel- it is tangible enough that leaving the country makes you feel it.

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We arrived early (9 AM) and way too early to check into our Airbnb, so we did one of the things we were most looking forward to…eating good food that involved pork products (hey, you don’t know you need it until you cannot have it!). We lugged our carry-ons all over and settled on a cute cafe right off the Piazza Navona and very close to where we were staying. They even granted us an early check-in, so we didn’t mind killing a little time over ham and cheese sandwiches, pizza with bacon and some light touristing in this gorgeous place while we waited to ditch our bags. I think everyone was on cloud nine at this point because Rome is stunning and we could feel the excitement of our upcoming adventure in this very beautiful part of the world.

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Our Airbnb, below, was an old palace and the rental home of an antique collector. It was gorgeous and in the absolute best location. We loved it.

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A stunning and huge print of Caravaggio’s “The Entombment of Christ” was in the entry and so awe-inspiring to see every time we walked through the door.

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Trying to capture the beautiful place with its massive marble-encased doors, brick-paved floors and old fireplaces throughout. Such a fun difference from our modern apartment in Tel Aviv.

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Gelato at 10 AM? When in Rome! We hung out at the Piazza Navona after eating a quick snack and took in this amazing place. Ever since Brian surprised me with a birthday trip here 3 years ago (can’t believe how fast that time flew!!), Rome has been one of my most favorite cities ever and I could see the same spark in my girls’ eyes as they saw it too.

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The colors on the buildings, the amazing food, the narrow cobble-stone streets and the doors of Rome….these are a few of my favorite things! Cannot ever get old to me. We all kept asking ourselves when we could move here! We stopped at the Trevi Fountain first and then a quick pit-stop at the Magnum store where you can make your own custom Magnum bar- so fun! They had the same pop-up Magnum store in NYC a couple of summers ago and I remember taking Lauren and Tessa with my sister-in-law, Amy, and her cute boys when they lived by us for a month. Awww, so many good memories. I’m off sugar at the moment and doing a challenge with my twin sister, Rebecca until the end of May so I just enjoyed watching my kids eating all of the things that made them so happy. I do say, though, that there is a good/better/best gelato ranking in Rome and we stayed near a “best”, Gelateria del Teatro. If you’re in Rome, you must go here!

From Trevi Fountain, we stopped at the Pantheon and eventually made our way to the Vatican. We didn’t have time to go inside (its a very slow tourist-filled 3 mile walk from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel!) so we decided to hang out and take it in from the outside this time around. We scheduled a cooking class for late afternoon- the girls chose between that and a bike tour for this trip because it was such a short stay.

From Trevi Fountain, we stopped at the Pantheon and eventually made our way to the Vatican. We didn’t have time to go inside (its a very slow tourist-filled 3 mile walk from the entrance to the Sistine Chapel!) so we decided to hang out and take it in from the outside this time around. We scheduled a cooking class for late afternoon- the girls chose between that and a bike tour for this trip because it was such a short stay.

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I had done a bit of research on cooking classes and landed on this highly-reviewed option and were so glad we did it! It is called “Cook with us in Rome” and it is run by Cesare and Gianni.

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This is Cesare and he was awesome! The entire class was so thoughtfully put together and entertaining- which we needed because at this point, we were all hitting our walls from the time change as well as getting up so early! We made a huge menu of fried zucchini flowers and sage leaves, steamed artichokes, two types of pasta (cavatelli and fettucine) and two sauces to adorn those pastas- goat cheese with broccoli as well as a tomato sauce that simmered for two hours. The dessert was a tiramisu or strawberries with balsamic and sugar. Wow- everything tasted incredible!

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This is us preparing the artichokes for a flash fry and then finished off with an olive oil and water steaming. I loved learning all of these new-to-me techniques and watching my girls in the process.

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Our favorite part of the night had to be making this cavatelli pasta. The recipe was incredibly easy- just semolina flour and water, but the most satisfying part was rolling it out on these little wooden grooved paddles. It may have been so satisfying that Lauren almost fell asleep- haha! She was so zoned out (below) working off only a few hours of sleep.

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How beautiful is this pasta!?! Never thought I’d hear myself say that, but its so true. Can’t wait to make it again- Cesare sent each of us home with our own paddles so we could do just that.

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And then this process of making fettuccine had us all laughing. We had to run and “catch” it as it came out of the pasta machine and it came out so thin and long that it took everyone in the class to help. By the craziest coincidence, we had the nicest family in our class with just girls as well, and from Raleigh, NC. How crazy is that?? It was so fun to hear about their life in the city we land in next and they just love living there, so it got us all excited to be there soon.

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Above is the tomatoes that we first cut up and made up the two-hour tomato sauce that was unbelievably packed with flavor. We all took turns stirring it every 10 minutes. Three ingredients- garlic, olive oil and tomatoes and add time and you get something that blows you away with flavor. The sauce eventually adorned our fettuccine, but I probably could’ve drank it with a straw.

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Oh, Rome. You are the best. This city delivers in a huge way and its like a living museum with its ancient ruins sprinkled all over.

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If we ever lived here, we’d never survive in a big car. We’d sooner squish into a tiny car than try to squish a big car into these tiny streets. It would be worth the charm though- I wouldn’t trade these streets for anything resembling a highway.

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Day One involved an unusually large amount of Coke zero (for me) and Haribo gummies (for everyone else). World’s best gummies that were everywhere.

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Ah, the live music playing in the various piazzas around where we were staying (and probably in every corner of Rome) made me so happy. Add beautiful music to any setting and I could sit and bask in it forever. I’m so smitten over this place.

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I love awesome coincidences and running into this family right here was one of them. There was a youth fireside at the Rome temple and because there was no public announcement made about the time, we guessed it would be around 7 PM. We arrived in our uber at 6:30 to find out that it had just ended! :( As we were getting out of our car, we ran into the Dalton’s. Mike and Brynne are dear friends of my sister, Jessica and her husband as well as neighbors to our friends, the Pothier’s, so we’ve heard so much about their family. While I recognized them, they had no idea who we were so when I got out of the car and said “Hello Daltons!”, they were definitely confused. :) I explained the connection and we chatted for a few minutes before they got in our uber for their ride back to Rome. It was so fun to make the connection and we met up for dinner in the city the next evening.

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The foggy, magical mornings and bridges of Rome are one more reason to love it. Still trying to think of some reasons not to love Rome- can’t come up with any! Lauren and I went on a run one morning together to Trastevere and we felt like the only ones out. Next up: Rome temple dedication and the reason for our trip.