Twilight in Trastevere

During my recent trip to Rome, one of my favorite experiences was an evening spent in Trastevere. Far from the tourist epicenters of the Colosseum and Vatican, we arrived in the neighborhood, nestled on the west bank of the Tiber, just after a rainstorm.

After a winding taxi ride through cobblestone streets (every taxi ride in Rome feels like a high speed getaway chase), we were deposited in an unassuming alley way and told we’d have to make rest of the journey on foot. Our destination – Grazia e Graziella, a Trip Advisor recommended restaurant in the heart of the neighborhood. Dodging puddles, we navigated the snaking  pedestrian streets until we found our target.

Seated on the patio, we had front row seats to excellent people watching. From tourists, to locals celebrating the weekend, to eccentric shop stalls to friendly Italian puppies, we took in the sounds and sights of Trastevere reawakening after the rain.
All of this street side entertainment was just a warm up, however, for the showstopping main event – our dinner.

 

I know I’ve already covered this meal in my “Everything I Ate in Rome” post, but it is so worth revisiting. Glorious antipasti, amatriciana and tiramisu. Last meal worthy stuff and perfectly Roman – no spaghetti or fettucine alfredo in sight. The sight of it still makes my mouth water.
After we had fully stuffed ourselves, we set out to explore the neighborhood’s streets, with both dusk and Romans settling into them.

 

I love the golden hues of this city at nighttime. Every random building is so photogenic.

 

In one of the main piazzas stood the beautiful Basilica Santa Maria. It’s really incredible and overwhelming how many historical and jaw-droppingly beautiful buildings still exist in Rome. Santa Maria dates back to 1143!

 

Warm summer nights meant many tourists and Romans alike were gathering outside to take in the weekend air. I love the feel of community this brings to the city; people aren’t confined to bars or restaurants, but want to soak up the feeling of Rome and its evening energy.
I couldn’t resist a shameless selfie.

 

Street vendors litter the streets and squares, like most of Rome’s busy areas. They provide entertainment and window shopping, but you should take your time and use your discernment to sniff out the real deal from tourist traps. I was content to meander and take photos.

 

Revelers spilled out into the street and around this cute vintage car.
We found our way to the Tiber and Trastevere’s end. More stalls dotted the border of the river below. If you’ve seen the new James Bond film, Spectre, you’ll recognize this river’s edge from a certain high speed car chase. The city is so cinematic and surreal, so I definitely understand the appeal to filmmakers and artists of all mediums.
Darkness fully engulfing the city, we decided to double back once more to take in the neighborhood’s offerings one more time before leaving.

 

I’m a city girl at heart, so it truly sent my heart racing to feel in the “middle of it all” and take in the buzz of the weekend with real Romans. We just had a glimpse of Trastevere, so I look forward to tasting more of its fine food, ambling through its labyrinth of streets and soaking up its electric spirit on my hopefully very soon next trip to the Eternal City. If you visit Rome, you’d be remiss to skip it.
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Look for Less: Gigi Hadid’s Travel Style

I know that I’ve been a bad blogger, but I promise to be more consistent – at least for the next week or so 😉 What can I say, life can some times get in the way of the digital world, but I’m going to make more time for this creative passion of mine and other things that make me happy.

Leave it to Gigi Hadid and a chic travel outfit to re-inspire me. Could I have any more of a girl crush on this chick? Gigi wore this stylish outfit when traveling to Brazil this summer, and I think it’s perfect for a long haul flight or a casual fall outfit. I’ve done some sleuthing and found budget appropriate pieces to copy Miss Hadid’s look and get that effortless on the go it-girl glam. Who says you have to spend thousands of dollars to dress like a supermodel?

These Zara leather leggings look so expensive and like Balmain, but they’re only $40!
The side zips on this Boohoo sweater mimic Gigi’s look and complement high-waisted leggings
Faux suede booties from Forever 21 – a steep discount from Gigi’s Saint Laurent pair
I’m always looking for ways to spruce up my travel outfits, and Miss Hadid certainly provided some motivation, all while helping me get back into blogging. Thanks G!

 

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Everything I Ate In LA

I visited my friends (aka adopted LA family) Michele and Andrew in LA this weekend, and if you watched my Snapchat story you would think I simply ate my way through the city. As a self confessed restaurant addict, I love that Michele and Andrew are the perfect friends to enable my addiction. I’d much rather spend my money on a beautiful meal in a gorgeous restaurant than on a night watching D-list reality stars party at 1 Oak. While I still have a long list of old favorites and new spots to devour on my next trip, I’d thought I share a glimpse into this little culinary tour de LA.

As soon as I landed , I went straight to Coffee Bean, as you do. There’s really no replacement for their Vanilla Ice Blended – I’m looking at you Starbucks. If your’e on the West Coast, you need to try one; it’ll ruin Starbucks for you forever.

Once Michele and Andrew were off work, we made a dash to an old favorite, Umami Burger. With convenient locations across LA, it’s delicious food and trendy atmosphere at an affordable price. No shrinking violet, I went straight for the “Manly Burger,” truffle fries and cheesy tots. A light meal.
The next day, I met my old friend Adam for lunch and a catch up at Mendocino Farms. Another affordable staple, it’s a quick sandwich spot right across the street from the Grove. I inhaled the “not so fried” chicken sandwich.
After wandering around the hordes of tourists at the Santa Monica Promenade, I pranced over to Dogtown Coffee off Main Street Santa Monica. I sipped on their famous sea salt caramel iced coffee in the perfect beachy surfer hangout, just steps from the beach. Totally worth the $20 Uber back to Weho.

 

For dinner Andrew and Michele introduced me to a new favorite, Honor Bar in Beverly Hills. It’s South Beverly Grill’s cooler younger brother, and a upscale casual spot to grab shared plates and drinks. I had the Osaka style sushi (stacked in a layered cube instead of rolled), fries and a margarita. Andrew and Michele had kale salad and the famous chicken sandwich. A weird combo, but super yummy.
Not ones to pass up dessert, we grabbed ice cream from Sprinkles and windows shopped around Beverly Hills. Nothing better than a scoop of Rocky Road and eyeing some Chanel.
Saturday morning, we punished ourselves for Friday’s feasting with a beastly hike of Runyon Canyon. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life on that damn canyon. Miraculously finishing the hike, we then headed to breakfast at Backyard Bowls. Capitalizing on the acai bowl trend, it’s a healthy option in the middle of endlessly hip West Hollywood.
Our healthy interlude was quickly interrupted, however, when we headed next door to Blue Bottle Coffee. Instead of just sampling coffee like normal people, we behaved like hobbits and had our second breakfast of poached eggs on toast. YOLO.
We napped off our breakfasts and thankfully didn’t have dinner until 9PM. Michele, the best hostess, had made reservations at Weho staple and celeb favorite, Cecconi’s. Owned by Soho House, the restaurant pleasantly surprised me. Most of these “sceney” places have horrible service and food, but Cecconi’s exceeded expectations. We dined on their beautiful patio (the restaurant is very glamorous and Mediterranean style), and devoured bruschetta, meatballs and pasta. The food was very authentic and damn delicious. My photos really don’t do it justice. Plus, we were one table away from Paula Deen. The quintessential LA dinner.
Before I had to head back to St. Louis, Michele took me to one more LA staple, Joan’s on Third. We tried their new Santa Monica location, and it was a perfect morning. Michele had the Chinese Chicken Salad, and I had Grandma’s Italian Sandwich – all under the sun right near the beach. Head there for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or to pick up prepared food, but whatever you do, make it to Joan’s.  It was the perfect goodbye to the perfect Angeleno weekend.
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Travel Beauty Essentials

While I can sometimes be a glamazon, my travel beauty regimen has become lean and practical. I don’t want to have to check a bag just to bring some fancy lotion, and I need a low maintenance, comfortable look for long days of sightseeing with my face often exposed to the sun or other elements. After much trial and error, I’ve begun to perfect my list of essentials – multipurpose, often inexpensive items that keep me looking halfway decent with little fuss.

BB Cream
While I normally wear foundation day to day, I opt for a dual purpose BB cream on trips that will not only even out my skin tone but also moisturize. My skin can be super sensitive when adjusting to new climates, so this coverage is light and gentle enough to prevent redness or breakouts. I’ve tried Garnier’s BB as well, and this Maybelline version was longer lasting and better consistency.

Under Eye Roller
Garnier does, however, make a sick under eye concealer. It covers up dark circles, and rolls on using this cooling ball that helps to de-puff. Perfect for jet lag.

Dry Shampoo
I’ve tried multiple brands, and Batiste is my favorite, beating even more expensive Klorane or Drybar options. It helps me to refresh my mane after a long flight or a jam-packed day touring Westminster Abbey.

Nars The Multiple
A dewy blush in solid form, so less risk of a compact breaking and a less drying finish than powder. In the cult classic shade, Orgasm. It’s literally flattering on everyone and lasts forever.

Wet Brush
My curly hair gets seriously tangled, and this brush eases through wet hair and sorts out my rat’s nest. Perfect for after a long day at the pool, or ya know after a shower.

Sephora Samples
Whenever I visit Sephora or Ulta, I’m sure to grab samples, often of moisturizer or mascara. They’re the perfect size to throw in your quart size ziploc. On my recent trips, I’ve been trying out this Lancome mascara and Korres night cream. Much easier to stash than full sized versions, and I don’t have to worry about potentially losing expensive designer skincare or makeup.

Smashbox mini palette
Matte and glittery shades to amp up your look when you get invited to a discotheque by a hot Italian. Sadly, this didn’t happen on my trip, but it was much easier to carry around than a full on Naked palette. It’s kind of expensive, but will last a long time.

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave In Spray
This spray is a stylizer, frizz remover and leave in conditioner all in one. It was a lifesaver in Italy, when I quickly learned that hotels are adverse to giving you hair conditioner. Plus, it makes my curls look more put together when I can’t be bothered to blow dry – which was every day on vacation.

Bag
Oldie but goodie from Sonia Kashuk’s Target line. Bright and colorful means easy to find in my black suitcase.

Boots Facial Wipes
Way better than the Neutrogena version, because the solid closure prevents them from drying out and you thereby wasting half the wipes. I’m prone to breakouts, so I’ve become religious about taking my makeup off with a wipe, and then proceeding to wash my face. This routine definitely doesn’t falter on vacation – my selfies need to be on point 😉

Visine Eye Drops
As I’ve mentioned, travel (planes, hotel rooms, new climates) can leave you seriously dried out. Eye drops keep your baby blues moistened and looking alert. They’re also a great way to hide a hangover.

What are your must-have travel beauty products? I’m always looking for something to make my routine more efficient or just new holy grail products.

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Italian Beauty Buys

I’m a self-confessed product junkie, so whenever I travel, I gravitate to beauty souvenirs. Whether it’s lathering on a local lotion, spritzing myself in an artisan perfume or avoiding aging with a revered serum, I just love trying new cult products from around the world.  I picked up a few Italian beauty buys, so I thought I’d share in case you’re ever in the beautiful country.  Just look out for the green cross when you’re wandering the cobblestone streets. It’s not a weed dispensary, but instead a farmacia where with some broken Italian and euros, you can pick up a stash of mementos to keep you looking flawless long after your trip has ended.

1. Mustela. This face soap was not a pre-planned souvenir, but came out of necessity. Being me, I forgot to pack proper face soap (Cetaphil lotion looks so much like their soap!), so I was forced to figure out this whole faramcia thing on our first day. The elderly cashier did not speak English, so with some hand motions and bad Italian on my part, she was able to recommend Mustela. Bless her, because this stuff is awesome! Made for babies, so it’s super gentle, but still frothy and able to take off my makeup and any dirt.
2. Sopa Limone. Aka lemon soap from Capri. The Amalfi Coast and Capri are blanketed in lemon groves, and this soap is made with that fresh local produce. You can also pick this up in practically in any store in Positano, Praiano or Amalfi. A cute reminder of the scents of the dreamy coast.
3. Hotel Margherita Body Lotion. I’m a big proponent of snatching extra hotel toiletries. Not only can you use the travel sizes on future trips, but they also will remind you of your stay at that hotel. Hotel Margherita in Praiano had lovely toiletries made just for them in Napoli, so I had to keep the lotion for my purse. Couldn’t resist the blue and white packaging!
4. Rilastil. I read about Rilastil on Byrdie when doing some research before my trip, and I’m glad I did the legwork. An anti-aging serum that utilizes hyaluronic acid, it re-elasticizes the skin. This was expensive, so I haven’t used much yet. It came highly recommended from several beauty blogs as an Italian “beauty secret.” You should definitely do some research on sites such as Byrdie and Into the Gloss to know what products to look out for before any upcoming trip. The language barrier prevented me from discovering too many new ones while I was there, and I was more focused on enjoying the sights than researching beauty products :).
5. Candle from Capri. The scent is called “flirt,” and my mom and I stocked up on several of these candles while winding through the shops in Anacapri. I can’t find a link to buy it online, but I highly recommend a candle as a souvenir on your next trip. Every time you light it in your home, you’ll be transported to that holiday feeling.
Have any of you discovered any great Italian beauty buys? Any beauty souvenirs you gravitate to on your trips?

 

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I’m linking up with the awesome girls at Travel Tuesday, hosted by Sara Sees and A Keane Sense of Adventure. Check it out if you love finding excellent new travel blogs!

 

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