My first trip to Italy was in 1998, and since then, to the best of my calculations, I have made over 25 separate trips and spent almost two years of my life in what now seems like a second home to me. I love Italy’s dramatic landscapes, its incredible food, its music, and the emphasis on enjoying life to its fullest. But the glue that has bound me to the country for an 18-year-long love affair is undoubtedly the cast of characters that has become such an important part of my life over the years. I will be eternally grateful for these people and the entrée into Italian life that they have given me – one which few tourists get to experience.
I have visited Paris countless times, and it seems that I find a good restaurant that I really like, only to learn it’s closed when I next visit. So today I searched on tripadvisor.com, looking for new ideas of where to dine during my brief stay here, and I stumbled upon reviews for a place called, Le Soufflé. I love soufflés, but they are a rare find and when they are on a menu, they are not always that great. But I had a feeling this place would be different, and I was right.
After a whirlwind first leg of my European travels in early November, which took me through Wales, England, Finland and Italy, I raced home to New England to grab some Thanksgiving turkey and a whole lot of birthday cake and spend the week seeing all friends and family, along with practical things like doing laundry and planning for Europe Part II in December.
After my brief “flirtation” with Wales and England, followed by my exciting adventures in Finland, I spent the last days of my November European trip in Italy, my casa dolce casa (home sweet home). I flew from Helsinki to Rome and picked up a rental car and drove into the city in the late afternoon. When I reached my guest house in Rome, I chuckled as I saw an open parking space that was perhaps 10 steps from the door to the building where I’d be staying for the weekend. I sometimes amaze even myself regarding my parking karma.