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Expat Spotlight: Linda's Top 3 Tips for Italy

Linda and her husband Steve are Americans (now also Italians) who moved to Rome in 1999 with two very large cats and a Swiss army knife to start their hostel, The Beehive. Besides offering a clean, comfortable place to stay, The Beehive has been a place for community and connections for visitors and residents alike for the past 16 years with a range of events such as art exhibits, language exchanges, vegan/vegetarian dinners, storytelling evenings and more.

Top 3 Favorite Restaurants in Rome?

1) Trattoria Monti – My husband Steve and I have been going here since we first moved to Rome. It’s a family owned restaurant and you’ll find family members in the kitchen and brothers Daniele & Enrico hosting and waiting tables. The place is small, casually elegant, nd unpretentious. Because of their popularity with various guidebooks, you might find more
foreigners than Italians here sometimes, but their excellent service & food has not been compromised despite their popularity. Reservations definitely required as they are always full and their place is small.
2) Flavio al Velavevodetto – Excellent home-style Roman cooking at this restaurant which has a unique location built into Monte Testaccio – a “hill” that was created from the shards of ancient Roman amphorae (clay pots). You’ll find exceptional Roman cuisine– cacio & pepe and the amatriciana are some of their signature dishes, but you can also sample typical Roman dishes known as “quinto quarto” which are the entrails and internal organs of animals
that are usually thrown away.
3) Da Emilio – There’s really no reason why you should probably go out of your way to visit this restaurant unless you are in the area. I say this only because Rome has many places like this. The local neighborhood trattoria – decades old, typically family owned & run, unfashionable looking, and yet filled day in and day out by the locals who either live or work in the area. The food at Da Emilio is consistently good – simple, delicious dishes. I particularly love their eggplant parmigiana and fettucine with artichokes as well as their macedonia (fruit salad)
for dessert.

Top 3 favorite foods in Rome?

1) Supplì: Supplì is what is known as a typical Roman street food and can be found at pizzerias and most bakeries that sell pizza. It’s a breaded deep fried tomato based rice ball stuffed with mozzarella. Panificio Roscioli near Piazza Vittorio makes some of my favorite supplì in the city (not to be confused with its more famous cousin Antico Forno Roscioli near Campo de’ Fiori).
2) Roman-style pizza: There are two kinds of pizza in Italy – Roman style and Neapolitan style. Roman style has a thin and crispy crust and Neapolitan style has a thicker and doughier crust. Some of my favorite places for typical Roman style pizza are Pizzeria Remo in Testaccio, Pizzeria San Marino Vecchia in the Trieste neighborhood and Pizzeria Emma between Largo Torre Argentina & Campo de’ Fiori
3) gelato : There is no excuse for eating mediocre gelato when in Rome! Rome has some of the most amazing gelaterias and the best of them use quality ingredients. Two of my particular favorites are Neve di Latte near the MAXXI museum and Fatamorgana, which has various locations throughout the city.

Top 3 tips for new expats in Italy?

1) Learn the language. I know this is offered as a tip a million times, but it’s absolutely imperative and even though it seems a perfectly logical thing to do, I’ve met people who have lived here 20+ years who can still barely order at a restaurant..
2) Live in the moment. What I mean by this in this context is try to forget about the things you miss about home and enjoy your new home. Accept the differences and learn new things – people all over the world do the same things differently and this is part of the excitement of travel and living internationally. Don’t expect to be able to make the recipes that have ingredients you can’t find here. Don’t expect public services to be the same. Get out of the mind set that just because it’s not like “back home” that it’s bad.
3) Keep your social circles open. Many expats make the mistake of initially joining the various expat groups, but then staying in them and not making the effort to befriend locals – either because of their lack of fluency or confidence in the language and/or their lack of comfort or understanding of the culture. I’m not saying don’t join expat groups if that’s your desire, but keep in mind that staying only within your language or cultural set, you will never integrate and it will be difficult not to fall into an “us vs them” mentality.

Top 3 tips for travellers in Italy?

1) Book ahead. Accommodation, museums, restaurants. Don’t waste time going from hotel to hotel, standing in long queues or missing out on a recommended restaurant.
2) See the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona; they’re amazing. But carve out time for Rome’s many lesser known treasures, you won’t regret it.
3) A small group walking tour can make history and art resonate for you in a way that it may never have before. Italy holds 60% of the world’s cultural patrimony. Take advantage of that fact with local experts while you’re here. There are walking tours to suit all interests and the best companies offer small group tours so you are not just part of the masses as well as family oriented tours for those traveling with children.

Top 3 tips for what to pack for Italy?

1) A plug adaptor. With the amount of technology that people travel with nowadays, an adaptor will be needed for all your tech needs and not as easy or cheap to find once you’re already here.
2) Comfortable shoes. There are so many shoe choices that it will be possible for you to find non-trainer walking shoes that can make the leap from casual to dressy while still saving your feet. Rome is a walking city and you will definitely be getting your 10,000+ steps per day while you’re here.
3) I have to actually mention here what NOT to pack. Don’t pack instant coffee, food items, extra toiletries, etc. Take the basics with you, but keep in mind that if you forget your toothpaste, there is toothpaste in Italy! And with Rome’s amazing coffee culture, you can leave that Folgers instant at home and enjoy the real thing for a change.

Top 3 favorite places in Italy

1) Rome : Our adopted city has its fair share of big city problems, but containing a huge chunk of Italy’s cultural patrimony – I am constantly amazed and awed at the things I discover here. It’s where we started our business, it’s where our 3 daughters were born, so many dear memories for us have been created here. Rome will always be home and holds a truly special place in my heart.
2) Valle d’Itria, Puglia: This is one of my happy places which is a stunning area in the region of Puglia (the heel of Italy). The area is famous for its limestone conical constructions dotting the countryside known as trulli. The food, the landscape, the gorgeous white cities of Martina Franca, Ostuni and Locorotondo – all put a smile on my face.
3) tie between Val d’Orcia, Tuscany and Val Gardena, Trentino-Alto Adige. These places are very different, but I adore both for their gorgeous natural beauty, spectacular views and delicious food.

Top 3 neighborhoods in Rome

1) Esquilino/Termini: Our beloved Esquilino, this neighborhood is where we started the original Beehive and we lived here for several years as well. The neighborhood suffers from a bad reputation with guide books and locals alike which is a shame because it’s interesting, a bit on the gritty side, but not a dangerous place and its Rome’s only neighborhood in the center with a large ethnic population. Mercato Esquilino is located here and has one of Rome’s largest covered markets. I head there when I need more “exotic” ingredients: cilantro, plantains, sweet potatoes, lemongrass, etc. Piazza Vittorio is the largest piazza in Rome and is the heart of the neighborhood. Lots of great food choices in this neighborhood including Trattoria Monti I mentioned earlier.
2) Trieste/Salario: This neighborhood is considered “just outside center” because it’s located just outside the Aurelian Wall. We lived in this neighborhood for many years and I like it quite a lot despite it being off the tourist radar. It has a lot to recommend it though – good shopping and restaurants and lots of historical sights to see including the Coppedè area which has gorgeous art deco buildings, the catacombs of Priscilla, the mosaics at the church of Sant’Agnese fuori le mura, the MACRO museum, the Villa Torlonia park which has one of my favorite buildings in Rome – the quirky and gorgeous Casina delle Civette.
3) Testaccio My midwife is in this neighborhood so I used to spend a lot of time here. This is an old Roman neighborhood with deep working class roots and also the area of the former city slaughterhouses which have now been turned into a fair trade complex and home of MACRO Testaccio art museum. Rome’s only pyramid – yes, Rome has a pyramid! – is in this neighborhood as well as the beautiful Non-Catholic cemetery where notables such as Keats and Shelley are buried. One of my favorite restaurants, Flavio al Velavevodetto is also here.

For more tips from Linda on Italy, watch for upcoming posts on the Italy blog, check out her profile (and add yours now) and go to her blogs, www.the-beehive.com and www.cross-pollinate.com.

Interested in sharing your top tips? Contact erin {at} insidersabroad {dot} com!

Published August 10th, 2015 by Beehive
Posted to Inside Secrets to Italy

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