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New Year’s in Emilia-Romagna

17 Feb

Emilia-Romagna is located in Northern Italy and is known for both food and automobiles.  The area is home to Ferrari and Lamborghini, Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and Parma’s prosciutto.  The region is also notable for pasta dishes like tortellini, lasagne, tagliatelle, and the Bolognese sauce.

IMG_0224We rented a car in Rome and decided to take the scenic way up the Adriatic coast.  Our first stop was in L’Aquila, which is surrounded by the Apennine Mountains in Central Italy.  This town is still recovering from a deadly earthquake that took place in 2009.  The picture to the right shows a building that still has scaffoulding in place during restoration.

IMG_0869After stopping for a quick cappuccino at the local bar we drove on towards Rimini, which is one the most famous seaside resort in Europe founded in 268 BC.  It was an important Roman transportation route given its located between to rivers.  As you can see, it was a bit foggy the day we were there.  I would highly recommend eating at Osteria de Borg.

After lunch, we drove on to the small country of San Marino.  If you didn’t know it existed, you are not alone.  This small country was very festive for the holidays and hIMG_0880ad one of the most beautiful views.  This is actually fog, not the ocean in the picture.  You drive up so far that you drive out of the fog.

We were finally on our way to our final destination for the day.  The city of Ravenna.  This city is located on the coast and is famous for the collection of well-preserved mosaics.  In fact, Ravenna’s early Christian churches and mosaics have been collectively designated a World Heritage Site.

The Basilica of San Vitale is said to be the inspiration for the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey.  Additionally, Ravenna is home to The Tomb of Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy.  We spent a total of two night and one full day, which is really all I would suggest.  

Next up, we were off to Ferrara which has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You can tell right away this city was the center of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.  As with every Italian city, there is a specific culinary style that IMG_0542includes cappellacci di zucca, the traditional Christmas dish called cappelletti, a small meat-filled ravioli served in chicken broth, and pasticcio di maccheroni, a domed macaroni pie, consisting of a crust of sweet dough enclosing macaroni in a Béchamel sauce, topped with porcini mushrooms and ragù bolognese.

After lunch in Ferrara, we headed to our agriturismo.  The was possibly one of the best places I have had the opportunity to stay.  It was secluded, cozy with a fireplace in every room, an amazing owner/chef.  Due Papaveri was the perfect place to spend New Year’s Eve.  We had fabulous food both morning and night,  made by the owner Charlotte and her boyfriend Luca.  We took a pasta making class, where we learned the traditional dishes of the region.  Charlotte set up tours of a Parmigiano Reggiano factory, where they sell 90 month aged cheese that is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  Additionally, Charlotte set up a tour from an adorable woman, whose family has sold balsamic vinegar for over a hundred years.  For New Year’s Eve we had a spectular seven course meal and brought in the new year with traditions from America, Denmark, Canada, Spain, and Italy.

Our last stop with the Bologna, which was one of my favorite in Italy.  Home of the University of Bologna, this city was bustling with people and had tons of shops and restuarants.  I wish we had gotten to spend more time here, but we only were able to stay for lunch.  Given that  it was New Years Day, everything was closed up.  However, we managed to find a restaurant where I finally was able to try the famous lasagna from this region.


Istanbul, Turkey

14 Aug

Istanbul is a spectacular city where the east and west collide.  This is evident through the food, the buildings, suchIMG_0168 as the Hagia Sophia, and quite literally in the geography where there is a European and Asian side of Istanbul.  Istanbul is fairly easy to navigate and the Turkish people are extremely friendly.


As I prefer to do almost anywhere I travel, I booked an near the Galata Tower outside the Old City, which is much less touristy.  The first thing we did when we arrived was to walk up Istikal Caddesi (the main street) to Takism Square.  Along the way you can take in the Balik Pazar (the fish market), Nevizade Sokak (one of IMG_0068the busiest restaurant strips in the city), shop, drink a Efes Pilsen (local beer), and eat Baklava and Turkish delights.  This street is packed at almost all hours of the night.  It is a must do.


The must do sites are as follows:  Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, climb the Galata IMG_1152Tower to see a view of Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Market (only the Iranian saffron and somuk are worth buying), Topkapi Palace (the best portion is the IMG_1261Harem, which I believe you have to pay extra to see but is worth it), shopping at Arasat Bazaar (nicer bazaar and easier to navigate), and Chora Church.

You must take ferry up the Bosphorus Strait to Anadola Kavagi to tour the ruins of Yoros Kalesi (kind of a hike uphill).  On the ferry ride you can get off in the towns along the way.  We ate fresh seafood in a town called Sariyer on the way back.  Also, you MUST get the yogurt the kids sell on the ferry.  Make sure to put the sugar in it!IMG_1122


Also, everyone needs to experience the Turkish Bath.  It was quite an exciting/uncomfortable/slightly terrifying experience.  We went to Cemberlitas IMG_1384Hamami.  You first choose what services you would like (such a body scrubs, massages, bubble bathing, etc), then you literally have no idea what is going on the rest of the time.  I was just taken from one place to another by yelling Turkish women, who were demanding me to remove my clothes, scrubbing me with a turkish exfoliating cloth, then an interesting bubbly cloth, then shooed me off to another room where I was lathered in oil and given a massage (while the ladies chatted to each other the whole time).  By the way did I mention there were many other naked women all around.  We literally laughed about this experience the rest of the trip.  It’s not a bad experience, just an interesting experience.

Now to the important part, what to eat!!!!  Some great restaurants include Furreya Fish, where you must get the fish roll,  Kasap Osam Doner where you should get the isketer doner, Otantik for manti (my fav) and a turkish IMG_1255pancake (then finish dinner with an ice cream cone from the place right outside), and Filibe Kofteisi to get the meatballs.  We also took a cooking class in Istanbul which was a highlight.  We learned how to make five dishes of ethnic Turkish food.  The classes are offered at Cooking Alaturk and reservations are a must.IMG_1365

And by the way, if you don’t like cats this city might not be for you:)


I’m Back!

11 Aug

One of my goals this summer was to get my blog up and running again. My life has taken lots of twists and turns since my last posts but I never stopped traveling, eating, and running! I will work to catch you up on the places I have been in the last couple years but also keep you current on my almost weekly travels. About a year and a half ago, after moving back home to Denver, CO, I took a job in Government Affairs for an oil and gas company. This job has allowed me to experience different areas around the U.S. and try many new restaurants along way!

Hotel La Catalina in Cabrera

12 Nov

One of the most beautiful places on earth is the quaint town of Cabrera on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It feels undiscovered by the everyday tourist looking for the all-inclusive island vacation. In Cabrera, you feel the real heart of the Dominican.

I am lucky enough to visit Cabrera almost on a yearly basis. My best friend in the world, Ashleigh, works at a hotel owned by her father, Tim. Hotel La Catalina is the most amazing hotel. The visitors to the hotel are regulars because when you stay once, you come back as frequently as possible. The food is absolutely delicious and the bartender, Coco, makes the most amazing Mojitos you’ll ever have.

This past year, Ashleigh married Roberto, on the most beautiful beach called Playa Grande. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to (sorry friends and family). Her family and friends (only about 20 total) spent a week together participating in activities all week. One was to visit the non-profit Ashleigh started after moving to the Dominican Republic. Ashleigh was able to raise enough money to rebuild one of the poorest schools in the area. Ashleigh’s non-profit, Catalina DR Foundation is dedicated to the educating of underprivileged children and the rebuilding of schools in the Dominican Republic. Feel free to donate as much as frequently as possible!


14 Nov

Salzburg, Austria

14 Nov

Kelley’s 2011 Europe Trip

20 Aug