Learn Italian Hand Gestures … from Models

Sorry fellas, this one is mostly for the ladies.  

Have you been wanting to learn how to make a few Italian hand gestures?  Or maybe you’ve seen the gestures and have wondered what exactly they mean?  Well wonder no more.  Now you can learn Italian hand gestures … and learn from models.  Dolce & Gabbana models that is.  In no time you’ll be gesturing like an Italian pro.  Enjoy! 🙂



Shiatsu Massage in Rome

I love Groupon!  For those of you not familiar, Groupon is a website where you can purchase deals and discounts for various businesses.  It’s a great way to try a new place at a discounted rate.  I receive their daily deal emails, and always quickly scan through to see if anything jumps out at me.  A few weeks ago I came across a special for Shiatsu massage.  I’ve had plenty of massages, but never tried Shiatsu.  It was a great offer to try something new, and I am very glad that I did!  
Shiatsu means finger pressure in Japanese.  It is known as a type of alternative medicine, and uses more of a finger and palm pressure technique, as compared to traditional massage.  It is used to help with relaxation, stress release, muscle pain, anxiety and depression.  Another way Shiatsu differs from traditional massage is that it is performed while you are fully clothed.  This is great if you’re not super comfortable with dressing down to only your undies (or less) in front of a stranger.  
My first Shiatsu experience (and hopefully not my last) was at Shiatsu Life.  It is owned by Valter Vaccaro, and is located in the hip Testaccio neighborhood.  The deal I purchased was for three massage sessions, so I was able to go once a week for three weeks.  And let me just tell you, having a standing massage appointment sure does help you get through the week. 🙂From the first session, Valter was extremely kind and very much a gentleman.  He made me feel comfortable and relaxed.  Shiatsu is usually performed on a large futon mat, so no awkward massage table to climb up on.  During a session, Valter has lit candles around the room, and incense to help you relax.  Depending on your position (whether face down or on your side), he strategically places pillows to help support your body.  Also, as with typical Shiatsu, you are fully clothed the entire time.  Each time I went, I wore a sports bra, t-shirt and leggings.  Oils are also not used since the massage is done over your clothes, and since Shiatsu uses finger pressure as opposed to hand rubbing.
If you would like to try Shiatsu, or are looking for a way to relax while you’re in Rome, I definitely recommend Valter with Shiatsu Life.  
Shiatsu Life
Via Florio, 6

American Christmas Traditions in Rome

We did it.  We finally had a traditional Christmas.  We’ve been married and living in Italy for three Christmases now, and this year we had a traditional Christmas at home.  I couldn’t have been happier about it.  It was what I needed.  
Rome is beautiful around the holidays with all the lights, so it’s not hard to get into the Christmas spirit here.  One of my favorite places to go is to the Christmas market in Piazza Navona.  It’s magical at night with all the lights.  It’s also a little bizarre with all the overpriced commercialized goodies for sale at the market among the beautiful, ancient buildings and fountains, but it’s still a lot of fun to walk through.  You can read more about the Christmas market in Piazza Navona here.  

Continuing with our traditional Christmas, we decided to put up a Christmas tree this year.  We don’t have a lot of space, and we certainly don’t have much storage space, so we opted for a small tree.  The little tree was perfect for our little family.  I love having it on at night for the lights to give off a soft glow … so relaxing.  You can see our little tree below, and if you look closely, you can also see our little angel.  

On Christmas morning we woke early to open gifts.  Our little Dolce also had his own presents to unwrap.  He’s only slightly spoiled. 😉

*If you missed meeting Dolce, you can check out the newest little member of our family here.  

Dolce with his Christmas loot … balls, mice, treats and a walking jacket.  

Dolce having fun with his new toys.

For lunch, I prepared traditional southern dishes.  They are what I grew up eating every year for the holidays, and they taste like home to me.  We had cornbread dressing, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole.  We also had roasted chicken (for the hubby since I’m a vegetarian) and cranberry sauce “substitute”.  Everything was made from scratch.  There are no French’s fried onions or cream of any kind of soup mix here in Italy, and other typical ingredients are hard to find (think sweet potatoes).  So at the end of the day, I was patting myself on the back for pulling off a traditional southern American holiday meal in Italy.   

*If you would like any of the recipes, you can find them here on Why Rome’s Pinterest, under ‘Expat Food’.  

When it comes to cranberry sauce, I’m a canned girl.  Always have been.  All for the better in Italy though because I have never seen whole cranberries here (or even cranberry juice for that matter).  Isn’t that strange?  Anyway, I found the perfect cranberry sauce substitute.  It’s lingon jam from Ikea.  To me, it’s a tad bitter sweeter, but does the trick and gave me the cranberry sauce “fix” I was craving. 

Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and nut topping

Green bean casserole with homemade fried onions

And desserts, I couldn’t leave out the desserts … brownies, banana nut muffins & bread, chocolate almond candies, and cookies with dried cranberries (from the States), dark chocolate and hazelnuts.  Needless to say, we were STUFFED at the end of the day, and I was one happy girl with a belly full of American food! 🙂 

Coming to Rome? Don’t get a fine for eating!

Pizza, pasta, gelato … I bet these are some of the things you plan (and dream) on eating when you visit Italy.  I bet you’ve even gone so far as to dream (and plan) on grabbing a gelato and eating savoring it while you take in the sights of the fabulous Piazza Navona … the Spanish Steps … the Coliseum … or any other famous landmark in Rome.  Hold that thought though.  Don’t think you’re going to transport yourself onto a movie screen when you visit Rome and eat your heart out around the city, like so many countless films you’ve seen before.  

Why you ask?  Well, because as absolutely absurd as it may sound, it is now a crime to eat on or around any public monument or landmark (which is every place you turn in Rome’s city center).  It is a crime that can be fined from 25 – 500 Euros (about $32 – $650 USD).     

No more stopping at my favorite gelateria and walking to Piazza Navona while I sit and enjoy my cool treat and take in the energy of the piazza … ancient fountains, street performers, artwork, people watching … it has all come to an end.  That is, unless I want to pay a hefty fine for enjoying my gelato in that picturesque setting.  And I can tell you, I do not.  

This crazy rule is not only for gelato.  It also applies to eating a panino (sandwich), a slice of pizza, a bag of chips, or any other snack food or dessert.  

As NBC News noted on their website, after receiving fines and learning about the new law, several tourists pointed out the fact that there are no signs in the vicinity alerting people that they are no longer allowed to partake in any food or drink while near the various monuments.  NBC News reports that police in the area were asked about the complaint and said there was no need for signs.  A local policeman patrolling the area is reported as saying, “It’s common sense. You can’t dirty such a beautiful and historical monument with ice cream and bread crumbs just because you can sit on it.”  You know, dirtying and vandalizing a historical monument is one thing, but trying to control the free world is entirely something else.    

Another thing that makes the matter even worse, is that many eating establishments have very limited or no seating available, forcing patrons to take their food to go.  Where exactly are people supposed to eat?  This I would like to know.  

I would also like to know why the city can’t put those same policemen in place to prohibit the horrid men who force roses into your hand then try to get money from you by chasing you down, or the men who shine the damn toy lasers that they are trying to sell directly into your eye (pet peeve of mine, can you tell?), or the men who sell illegal goods displayed on a bed sheet along the sidewalks who speak ugly words to you if you gaze an extra second at their merchandise and then not stop to by something.  To me, these are a few of the things that are ruining and dirtying those beautiful and historical monuments.  Nothing is being done to address those matters.  

So … if you’re planning to visit Rome, don’t plan on eating your Italian treats outside while enjoying the fresh air and taking in the amazing scenery the city has to offer.  You’ll have to savor your morsels inside.   

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Roman Romance

We took this photo several months back, but I came across it the other day and wanted to share it with all of you.  My husband actually snapped this photo.  We took an evening stroll down by the river near to Castel Sant’Angelo, and it was one of those perfect, magical Roman evenings.  The breeze was blowing, the water was passing by from the river below, a castle and an ancient city served as the backdrop, a saxophone played in the distance, a rainbow of colors filled the sky as the sun set and my sweet husband walked next to me as he held my hand … it was perfection!  Ahhh … the simple moments in life. 🙂  

How about you guys?  Do you have any unforgettable moments in Italy?

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