HeartRome

My life and times in the eternal city and beyond

Latest Posts

5 years in Rome 

Last year I was interviewed by the lovely Enrica Barberis, an Italian journalism student at Rome’s John Cabot University. 5 years ago today, I moved to Rome and I couldn’t think of a more fitting post to mark the occasion. I hope you enjoy. Lots of love from Rome! Signing off from Trastevere Baci, Maria Going against the flow and feeling at home in Rome By Enrica Barberis Rome – Maria

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A guide to Cefalù in Sicily

I’ve never met a part of Sicily I didn’t like!  Every city, region and country has a stereotype. Some characteristics for which they are just synonymous with – truth or not. When many people think or hear Sicily, some words that come to mind include arancino, cannolo siciliano, grantita & brioche, beach, mafia. In some way or another, each of these hold some of truth in the eclectic dynamic of Sicily..

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7 Things I love about Summer in Rome

As I walked home this week to Trastevere along the Lungotevere following an event on Tiber Island, I noticed the outdoor summer stands had been just about all packed up. It’s still stifling hot in Rome and the warm weather is far from over, but most Romans have taken their holidays and are back at work, the shops and restaurants that closed for an August break have reopened and schools

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Under the Tuscan Sun, A quick guide to Siena

Well not really under the sun I have to say. On a mid-week break in May, as rain absolutely poured, I finally ticked Siena off my bucket list. I’ve visited many a medieval town and hamlet across Italy, so I’d convinced myself that it was ok that Siena hadn’t yet made the list. Now that I’ve been there – it is actually not ok! Located 70km south of Florence, the

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A foodies guide to Europe’s culinary capital: San Sebastián

San Sebastián in northern Spain (Basque country to be precise), is by no way new to foodie or travel bucket lists. I’d first really heard about this beachside city around 15 years ago when a good friend of mine travelled through that part of the country. I remember her saying it was, “really cool with lots of bars”. Back then, my palate wasn’t yet mature and my travel tastes weren’t

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A week at sea: Cruising the Mediterranean

Big cruises aren’t my thing. I wouldn’t generally choose one as my first choice for summer travel. But last year I went on one with my parents. They wanted to explore the Mediterranean and had limited time so this was the perfect way to spend a week. With MSC Cruises we cruised for 7 nights from Civitavecchia through Palermo, Cagliari, Marseille, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca and Genoa. I have to

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A guide to Rovinj: the turquoise jewel of Istria

Located a short two hours’ drive or ferry from Trieste in Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia, Rovinj is the pearl in Istria’s sparkling turquoise coastline. Istria is the most north-west region of Croatia and was once a part of Italy (for about 30 years between the first and second world wars), and was part of the Venetian republic centuries before that. This influence can be felt and seen to this day,

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The 5 best spas in Rome

By now you would’ve guessed I’m quite partial to a spa day! I’ve been fortunate enough to have massages, body treatments and facials in some of the best day spas in the world from New York to Melbourne, in the thermal springs of Bath, at a beach spa in San Sebastián, Turkish hamam on the western coast of Turkey to Dubai and Hong Kong.  If I have a few free

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5 things to add to your Verona to-do-list

I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve been to Verona three times in my life. But on the third time, it was (finally!) for more than just a day. Located in the Veneto region, it might not receive as much foot traffic as Venice but it certainly gets busy in high season and packs a punch with what it has to offer visitors.  People come to Verona to see and

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Putting Abruzzo on the map

As is the case around most of Abruzzo, the drive into the hamlets and towns of Chieti province can be a bumpy one. Many of the roads around here aren’t really taken care of. Many of the buildings look abandoned or are in need of repair and it’s as though life just keeps passing them by.  Abruzzo from an economic standpoint is one of Italy’s struggling regions. Yes, Italy has

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Where to eat near Rome’s monuments

Nowadays food guides have one thing in common: encouraging visitors to explore areas away from the touristy city centre and get off the beaten track. Yet many travellers in Rome are in town for just 2-3 days, are staying in a central hotel or apartment and want to eat and explore within that radius. And despite perception, there are a lot of decent places to eat in the centre of

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