Bella Napoli, local Italian cuisine!

So, I have to say, that Bella Napoli has turned into my favorite local Italian restaurant. Located in Del Ray, a neighborhood of Alexandria Virginia, it’s a small restaurant, very relaxed atmosphere and excellent home-made pasta. It’s a place where the family and staff who own and run the place remember your face and always greet people with a smile. You will feel like a local on your first visit.

Just like Irish pubs, I am not sure I have been anywhere in the world that doesn’t have an Italian restaurant. Nothing compare’s to eating Italian in Italy, but the cuisine varies just as much from North to South, East to West as it does from restaurant to restaurant here in the states.

I was first introduced to this local restaurant by a good friend. We started meeting at Bella Napoli’s on sunday’s to discuss his website or upcoming book (he’s a client of mine, I maintain his websites and publish his short stories). Or more or less these days we discuss life in general while we both separately work. The restaurant has maybe 10 tables inside and about 6 outside. I have yet to stop by for a beer or a meal and not seen a steady stream of people in and out.

If you live in the area or passing through, I highly recommend stopping by for dinner. They also just installed wi-fi, which likely means you can find me working from here a lot more often! (Sitting at Bella Napoli’s while I am writing this blog.)

Bella Napoli Del Rey Alexandria

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The colors of a Roman Market

Markets and Photography seem to go hand in hand. At least inside my head! I love the colors and the smells and atmosphere of fresh food markets. I was recently in Rome and thanks to House Trip for hosting me in Rome, and Context Travel for arranging our market tour followed by our cooking lesson with Eleonora. I had an amazing tour of a locals market in Rome. Our wonderful guide, Eleonora Baldwin took us on a tour through the Mercato Trionfale, the market where Roman’s do their shopping! Afterwards we had a cooking lesson and enjoyed a big group lunch, to read more about that read my Living & Eating Like a Local…in Rome blog!

Fruit’s & Veggie’s

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Cheese

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture, Cheese

Meat

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Fish

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Prepared Food

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Packaged Food (and don’t forget the wine!)

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

Mercato Trionfale, Market, Rome, Italy, Food Picture

All opinions in this post are my own.

Interesting Links:

House Trip, Apartments in Rome and worldwide

Context Travel, Tours in Rome and worldwide

Eleonora Baldwin, Italian Culinary Adventures

Mercato Trionfale, Roman Market Place

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Living & Eating Like a Local in Rome!

Rome like a local. It’s so refreshing to return to a city i have been to, but be able to absorb a new side of it. Having been to Rome many times before i was looking forward to “living Rome like a local” with House Trip. I was really excited to see Rome from a different angle and it was well worth it!

Woman in Rain, Rome, Italy

To start with, my fantastic host Ryan Levitt with House Trip made me feel right at home as soon as I arrived at my apartment. House Trip currently have 848 properties in Rome to choose from with prices starting from £23/night. They also offer over 92K rentals worldwide. I am totally converted and might never stay in a hotel again! Our group in Rome were spread among three separate apartments in three distinct areas on the city. A very large apartment, with an amazing view of the Colosseum, a simple one bedroom apartment with a bit of class located in the Trastevere neighborhood, and the final apartment near Campi di Firoe with low ceilings with wooden beans. All three were well maintained and very comfy. I stayed in an apartment in Trastevere, the area is full of life. There are several universities in the area and the streets are lined with cafe’s and restaurants and full of locals. Upon arrival and after settling in Kirsten Alana, my roommate for the duration of my time in Rome, and I took to wandering the area, eating gelato and enjoying the crowds of locals in the neighborhood.

Gelato in Rome, Italy

Apartments in Rome:

The beautifully and spaciousness apartment with an amazing view of the Colosseum. (From £297 GBP / USD $454 / €358 per night)

Trastevere apartment, a true living like a local feeling, away from the crowded tourist attractions! (From £117 GBP / USD $186 / €141 per night)

Beautiful low beamed ceiling apartment near Campo di Fiori with a traditional rustic feel. (From £185 GBP / USD $295 / €223 per night)

Kirsten Alana & Angie Orth, Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Kirsten Alana & Angie Orth sitting in the Colosseum Apartment window!

Food, Food, and more Food!

Starting off at a coffee shop with an espresso and pastry early in the morning, we grouped for our market tour. I am a huge market fan, I love the colors, the smells, watching people go about their normal daily shopping routines. Our guide Eleonora walked us though the market sharing all types of details with us while we picked up items that were needed for our lunch that afternoon. The smells and the tastes were heavenly. It is so easily to get lost in a place like this! We eventually made our way back to the apartment near the Colosseum where we enjoyed a cooking lesson taught by Eleonora our guide, followed by my favorite, our big group lunch!

Lunch at Pierluigi, Rome, Italy

After an afternoon full of busy work and relaxing, we headed out for a guided dinner. We regrouped at a small family restaurant near the Pantheon called, Armando al Pantheon. The food was fanatic! Our guide Gina, as well as the chef, spoke to us about the dishes served to us. We had something like 7 or 8 courses, pastas, meats, buffalo mozzarella, vegetables, and a fantastic desert they called tiramisu, however it was nothing like any tiramisu I have ever had before. Gina was full of information to share with us about the history of food in Rome and the amazing food we were eating.

Cooking Lesson lunch with Eleonora, Rome, Italy

Both of these tours brought out a side of Rome I had never experienced before. Food. I have always travelled on such a small budget, normally sharing a pizza and never having more than a single course at any given meal. I will admit that my favorite of the three meals was the lunch we ate near Campo di Fiori at Pierluigi, this was not a guided lunch, but we had some fantastic dishes. It was a perfect end, filled with amazing food, fantastic people and great conversation!

Guided dinner with Gina, Armando al Pantheon, Rome, Italy

A big thanks to Context Travel for arranging our guided market tour and our guided dinner! They arrange tours in cities around the world. And of course I want to thank House Trip for inviting me on this adventure. All opinions in this post are my own.

Interesting Links:

House Trip, Apartments in Rome and worldwide

Context Travel, Tours in Rome and worldwide

Eleonora Baldwin, Italian Culinary Adventures

Gina Tringali, Food & Travel Writer

Armando al Pantheon Restaurant

Pierluigi Restaurant

Kirsten Alana, Aviators and a Camera

Angie Orth, Angie Away

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Returning to Rome

I will admit, Rome in the past has not one of my favorite cities. It’s beautiful and historic, it’s big and it’s busy. To me it’s just another busy city where locals don’t have time for tourists, and tourists infest the city in groves. However, I continue to return to Rome, because i love Italy. Arriving at the airport this time, no one smiled, even my driver didn’t say anything to me except for “wait here” and “bye”. The first smile I saw was on Ryan’s (my HouseTrip.com host) face when I had finally reached my apartment.

Enjoying a city has just as much to do with the people you are surrounded by. The first time I was ever in Rome, I was in a hostel with these giggly girls I didn’t know, I did manage to find a friendly face to wander the streets with on my first night. She was studying in Copenhagen for a semester and came to Rome during her spring break. We ran into a young fellow, also studying abroad in Europe at the time, he was literally just passing though Rome for the night on his way back to wherever it was. Although I do not remember their names all these years later, we did have a great time laughing together on the Spanish Steps. The rest of that trip was uneventful and full of tourist sites. The year after that adventure, I stopped through town for a night with my boyfriend, we did all the same attractions again, and honestly, weren’t in town for more then about 14 hours and that included sleeping, I was so ready to get back out of town.

This time, my hopes are a lot higher. Mostly because of the people I will be spending my time here with. The group of us are all travel bloggers/photographers and the activities lines up aren’t the run of the mill everyday tourist activities. The idea is to “live like a local” thanks to HouseTrip.com! Most exciting is my roomie Kirsten Alana (pictured below next to the smallest car we have seen while eating gelato!

kirsten alana gelato italy

More adventures to follow soon!

Interesting links:

HouseTrip.com

Kirsten Alana, Aviators and a Camera

Dave & Deb, The Planet D

Angie Orth, Angie Away

Laurel Robbins, Monkeys and Mountains

Andrea, Destination Europe

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A day on the town…NYC!

I have visited New York city more then I can count over the years. In recent years most of my trips into the city was for dinner and a show or for a few beers thanks to my friends who live on the Hudson river with a great view of mid-town Manhattan. However, a good friend of mine who currently lives in Bath, England was going to be in town. So I took a very early train ride up to the city for the day. We had a fantastic time with our day out on the town. Not only was it nice to catch up, but to have a friend to wander the streets and see something new with.

nyc, New York

We started our morning at Penn station, although we didn’t plan a meeting point well, it only took about 20 minutes of us both wandering in circles for those circles to intersect! We immediately headed out to the High Line. This was new to me, as I was unaware that this had even existed until the night before when someone mentioned I should consider walking it while I was there. It just so happened that this was also the top of Zoe’s todo list.

nyc, New York

For those of you also unfamiliar, the high line is a pedestrian walkway along a former elevated rail track in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan (Opened in 2009). It is a fantastic walk through the city, above the street level sounds and dirt. There is tall grass growing on the edges, some cherry and dog wood trees to name a few, several sculptures, several spots to relax in the sun and even an area to watch movies! There was also several sitting/viering area’s set up that encouraged viewers to stop and take a seat while overlooking the busy city streets.

nyc, New York

We walked the full length, and this left us right where we wanted to be, around the corner from the Chelsea Market. We stopped and had a light lunch while enjoying the marketplace. The marketplace was formerly owned by the National Biscket Company and is the location where the Oreo cookie was invented! Tis is a fun and artistic place to stop and eat with a wide variety of eating establishments and a few stores along the way.

nyc, New York

nyc, New York

Following our lunch we had every intention of heading for Central Park, as I was a child last time I had been to the park and was hoping to spend the brisk afternoon observing locals and tourists alike enjoying their afternoon out. However, on our subway ride the Bryant Park station appeal highly to us, so we stopped. We ordered ourselves large hot chocolates (delicious!) and wandered over to the Southwest Porch bar to spike our drinks and sit under a heating lap for an hour catching up. We enjoyed ourselves so much, the only reason we decided to leave was that we finished our hot chocolate!

nyc, New York

We did finally make it to Central Park were we stopped for a hot dog, just because it’s iconic, and wandered the lower end of the park for a bit before making our way down to the Flatiron District. It is likely that we would have not bothered to make it down to this end of town if it wasn’t for meeting another friend of mine who lives in the city for a quick drink. The Flatiron district gets it’s name from a building that literally is shaped like a flatiron. By this time we were hungry again and had just under two hours before we both had to catch trains back to where we started our mornings.

nyc, New York

nyc, New York

It just so happened we were standing outside of Eataly, an Italian Marketplace in NYC and had been recommended to go there. Although we were both unfamiliar, this is evidently a very popular place for eating, drinking and doing a bit of shopping! We shared a gorgeous Capricciosa pizza. We would have also shared a bottle of wine if we had enough time, but instead ordered a glass each. What a great day out, and I highly suggest Eataly if you are in the area.

nyc, New York

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