Italy Part 1: Rome

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It’s been a long time coming, but here is my Italy Travel Diary from this past summer! I spent a month shadowing a professor at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, but also got to thoroughly enjoy Rome and visit some of my favorite cities. Italy is such a beautiful country and I’m so lucky to have spent the last three summers traveling there. The first two years I did quite a lot of traveling going from the south of France – look for a post on that in the future! – down through Paestum. This year, however, I got to truly live in the suburbs of Rome and experience the city like a true Roman – or as true as an American Chinese girl can get.

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I spent the majority of the month alone – a few friends dropped in here and there – so it had the possibility of getting very lonely if it weren’t for the fact that Italians love to talk. I rented an AirBnB, which was absolutely lovely. The hosts, Chiara and Francesca, were incredibly hospitable and helpful. The apartment was set up rather like a Manhattan loft, small and efficient. There was a loft area for the bed, which was nice, but it was SO SHORT. I’m rather tall for a gal, but I had to well and truly bend over at the waist to walk around up there. If I had a penny for every time I hit my head on that ceiling… That minor inconvenience aside it was absolutely lovely. (Fair warning, though, Italians are rather adverse to air-conditioning and it can get quite hot!)

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I spent a large amount of the month in and around the Vatican as I did a bit of research there. The Basilica itself is so beautiful and restful, especially in the early mornings before the throngs of tourists arrive. Even then it is exciting and contagious to be around the pilgrims and visitors, all singing and happy to be there. 7 am, though, when the doors first open is the best time to arrive. It’s so very quiet and the light is more direct as it shines through the front doors and the windows. All you can hear is footsteps and the soft sounds of morning masses led in many different languages all at once in all the chapels.

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In quite stark contrast to the Vatican is the city itself. From 5am-1am it the city is bustling and busy and loud.  There are a million places to eat and get coffee and gelato. Watch out for the street vendors, they are very friendly and very insistent. Some are quite entertaining.

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My fondest memories of Rome involve gelato. Gelato alone. Gelato with friends. Dropping gelato on myself. Dropping gelato on someone else. Spending far too much on gelato in Florence. The list goes on. I am perfectly happy in almost any gelato store – minus the tourist traps with heaped up, non-melting, imposter gelato – but my favorite places in Rome are: Giolitti’s, Old Bridge, and Fatamorgana Nemorense. Giolitti’s is a massive experience. It’s tourist heavy, but if you can get in at a good hour you can sit down with amazing gelato in a gold-gilded room. Old Bridge is a hole-in-the-wall American-friendly shop. There are no seat, but you get a huge amount of excellent gelato for quite cheap. Fatamorgana is a chain, but a remarkably good one. It’s a neighborhood-shop and boasts flavors like peaches and wine (amazing!), basil honey and walnut, and figs with lavender!

 

The absolute best part of Rome, however, is the history. As someone who studies classical history and literature, the monuments and ruins around Rome are absolutely breathtaking. It’s a surreal experience to walk on the roads that authors and figures I’ve read about walked on thousands of years ago. The Colosseum is breathtaking and for once the crowds of tourists add to the experience, recreating what it must have felt like to be there as a Roman. The Forums are stunning and the Palatine – though a hike – provides a magnificent view of the rest of Rome. An added bonus: the cats wandering all over the city, sitting in temples like they are the kings and queens of Rome. And who’s to say they aren’t?

 

Every time I come back from Rome I miss it immediately. I miss the food and the gelato and the sounds. I miss the buzzing atmosphere and the laughing and warm people. All I can say is: Arrivederci, Roma, a presto!

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Summer into Fall Look-book

The month of September is always a bit tricky; moving into slightly cooler weather and seeing the PSL’s return to Starbucks drives me to pull out the over-sized sweater and my ever-so-trusty pair of Ralph Lauren booties. BUT, I live in Texas at the moment, which means days start out cool and breezy and by midday they have reached 90 degrees again. Sigh. Two seasons in the space of 24 hours. I’m not entirely ready to pack up my summer wardrobe either. I am definitely not the only one in this predicament, so I figured I’d shoot a look-book of summer looks that can be easily modified to suit the awkward, in-between season that is September in the South.

 

This first outfit is something Cindy threw on whenever she couldn’t think of anything to wear. Denim dresses were big this summer as well as block-heels. To move this look into the fall, swap out the denim dress for the popular denim jacket or a more fall-friendly version Replace block-heeled sandals with block-heeled pumps.

 

 

Midi length skirts in broderie anglais and bold patterns, such as classic stripes, graced the streets throughout the summer and continue to be quite popular on the runways for fall. For the summer these skirts can be styled with brighter colors. I love how the striped skirt looks with red flats (get them here!) and this amazing circle bag. Circle bags, especially wicker ones, were featured all over instagram and Cindy had been wanting a red purse for a while. This piece from Mango checked both boxes in one go! Red is a universally flattering tone, though I like to go for more brown and wine toned reds as I transition to autumn. Utilizing the same lady-like and flattering shape, midi-skirts take on deeper colors and 80s plaid for the fall.

 

Of course one of the easiest wardrobe-transitions is simply to swap out your favorite shorts for a pair of jeans. Vintage-style graphic tees always give you a trendy – now more than ever with the recent popularity of 80s fashion – but laid-back attitude.  Cindy’s top is actually truly vintage and was owned by our mom back in the 80s. The fun, fruity print channels summer vibes with the fruit motif, though the color scheme can easily be switched over to a warmer fall look. With a denim jacket for an on-trend, double denim look, vintage levis, and cognac boots, this can be quite easily transitioned to fall.

 

Mixed patters and bright colors were staples of the summer and as we move into fall, the mix-and-match theme continues. Here Olivia is wearing a gingham top paired with a polka-dotted skirt. The neutral tones of the skirt pair well with the bright saffron top, reversely the high contrast of the skirt compliments the monochromatic look of the top. Summer gingham is replaced with autumn plaid and dramatic polka dots with demure stripes and vintage floral prints.

We love going to downtown Fredericksburg to shoot or just to hang out and shop. It’s such a versatile area; you can go for a chill coffee date or shop or visit the battlefields. Whatever your inclinations, there are plenty of hot spots to hit up in the ‘burg. Here are a few of our favorites.

Hyperion Espresso
coffee daze

A popular coffee place downtown, Hyperion Espresso.

Goolricks Pharmacy

While the entirety of the downtown area retains a strong retro vibe, Goolricks Pharmacy transports you back in time. It is a real pharmacy, but in the front it serves old fashioned cream sodas, milkshakes, and comfort food.

 

There are loads of shops, from food to books to tattoo parlors.

 

My personal favorite store downtown is Blue Shark Antique’s and Collectibles. They have an impressive collection of vinyls and records—not to mention any nerd’s dream hoard of comic books!

Bella Hair
Ask for Libby!

We’ve been getting our hair cut at Bella Hair for years. It’s a wonderful salon with amazing service. If you’re ever around, ask for Libby. She will not only give you the exact styling you are looking for, but also professional and personalized tips and product recommendations.

 

We’ll close with one of our favorite topics. Food. The Virginia is the perfect place for lunch or a midday snack. And for any history fans, George Washington is said to have eaten here!

So there you have it! A rather lengthy, but hopefully informative and helpful post! Welcome, again, to our corner of the internet and thanks so much for visiting!

Shop some of our fall picks:

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