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Buongiorno, tutti. I just got back from a whirlwind two weeks in my favorite country. Everyone tells travel stories, but I prefer using stats to tell my stories. Here are the totals from due settimane of pasta-fueled perfection.


Miles on foot, in 13 days. That’s an average of 8.4 miles a day and an even higher number if we used kilometers, which would make way more sense. Thanks, Obama.


Shirts sweated through. Fourteen if you count my last day (which I’m not because all I did was go to the airport, but the circles of check-in hell that are synonymous with Italian logistics would make anyone sweat). It wasn’t one shirt every day, but some days it was more than one, and one day it was more than two.

TRAVEL TIP: Book Airbnbs with laundry.


The address of my old apartment on Viale Trastevere, which I revisited (from the outside) and was one of the most rewarding parts of returning to Rome. It looked almost exactly the same, even though so much has changed around it. For one, the Blockbuster Video on the ground floor, which feels as antiquated as The Pantheon, was gone, replaced by a coffee shop. There were nice supermarkets in the neighborhood now, and a CrossFit gym, which made me laugh. The bingo parlor across the street has survived. The tram that ran the length of the street is under construction and not running. Our favorite pizza place was still there and still delicious, and when I told the employee in a very rehearsed Italian sentence, that I used to live here 15 years ago, he couldn’t have been less impressed with my fact or my Italian.


Airbnbs I stayed in. All four were delightful and weird. One had a shower I didn’t fit in. One had a shower in a hallway. One had an air conditioner that didn’t work, leading us to sleep with every window open. One had a key that I immediately broke off in the lock. Two had beds with slats that broke when I fell onto them, dramatically (To clarify – I fell down onto them dramatically AND the slats broke dramatically). Hotels are great, but Airbnbs are adventures.


Times I exclaimed “That was the best _____ I ate!” Pizza at a restaurant way off the beaten path in Rome. Steak in Florence. A lemon, pesto, and clam pasta by the beach in Monterosso. Parmesan cheese in Parma. And (EARMUFF IT FOR ME MOM AND DAD) crispy suckling pig in Monticchiello. The last one qualified as the best meat I’ve ever tasted.


Euros I saved by not buying a ticket to the jazz show outside the Colosseum, instead sitting next to the Colosseum and listening for free.


Euros I wasted buying 7 train tickets for 2 weeks when a grand total of 1 was checked by anyone. See: Logistics, Italian.

(Also I went 2 for 3 in making trains I was sure I was going to miss.)


Minute walk I suggested, after a crazy dinner, which turned into an hour plus adventure after stumbling onto a party in a Florence piazza to celebrate San Lorenzo. As one does, I guess, on a Wednesday. There was a DJ blasting music, amplified reverberations off ancient stone that surrounded Piazza San Lorenzo on all sides. There was free watermelon and plates of pasta. There was dancing by young people and old people. This club had EVERYTHING!


Days at a luxurious villa in Tuscany with a friend’s family. This may be a no-brainer, but if you are invited to a Tuscan villa, accept and then figure out how to make it happen after.


Gelato flavors I ate, including: Stracciatella, Kiwi, Banana, Passionfruit (multiple), Waffles, Oreo, Peach, Kinder, Salted Caramel, Coffee, Mint Chocolate, Caramel, Mixed Berry, Cookies, Fig & Mascarpone, and Watermelon Chip (the best, by a lot).


Red sauce (or any sauce) stains I got on shirts. Practice makes perfect. Although, I did flip a perfectly succinct dollop of pomodoro, across the table and onto the tip of my wife’s nose. But not her shirt!


Friend who spotted me at the Pantheon, even though neither of us knew the other would be in Italy and neither of us even had the other’s phone number. I ended up going to dinner with him and his friends and had a really great night. Even when you already know travel is wonderful, it can still surprise you in the best ways.

Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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