Everyone, at some point, has to try Italy in the summer. Luckily for me, my best friend has a family house just outside of Rome (and Florence, and Sienna). I was her guest this summer, along with another friend, for a blissful and busy 10 days. Think night-time races up the Spanish Steps in Rome, feverish ogling of diamonds along Florence's Pointe Vecchio, and impromptu ocean swimming along the Amolfi Coast. The whole trip was like a dream, and I most definitely will be back, even if only for the food. I tried my first fresh fig outside of the ruins in Pompeii and ate homemade pizza by candlelight on the family's new stone patio. A fresh bouquet of lavender-picked from the vast, centuries-old lavender bushes out front- was laid out on my pillow when I arrived, and one night I can back from getting a glass of water to hear twenty odd wild boars rustling in the field outside my window. And later, I tasted wild boar pasta for the first time at a local restaurant.
Before walking down the street to see the famed parliament building in Rome, we stopped in at the Bulgari exhibit to exclaim over the crystal clear diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires bigger than anyone could imagine. I didn't spend quite as much as I had budgeted for, but the cashmere scarves from the market in Florence and delicate hankies from one of many amazing linen stores made up for the lack of shoes I came home with. My most prized possession? A turquoise and gold ring from a little shop outside Vatican City. While the La Perla nightgown didn't come home in my suitcase, the lavender did, along with a new found love for the palm trees in Sorento and the sunflower fields of Tuscany and Umbria. The little medieval towns of Montepulchiano and Chuisi will always have the best gelato. For anyone contemplating a European trip, I can't recommend Italy enough. Until next summer, I'll try and convince everyone here to use olive oil in everything and eat as many tomatoes as possible.