One night in a Castle

Emiglia-Romagna, Italy – One morning I woke up in a Medicean Castle. It is probably still one of my most favorite memories of spending 3 months in Italy. The castle is in Terre del Sole just outside Forli. I’m slightly obsessed with castles, queens, and everything in between.


Luggage lift + touring car

The beds are draped with what I believe are passed down royal linens from Catherine d’Medici. The water closet is literally a water closet. The pool table which takes up most of the living room is rumored to have seen action from Mussolini himself.


This tale can be heard in most cities in Italy. The history is addicting. I imagined being a Queen for a day (yes, I just binged watched Reign on Netflix) and I loved every second. Wait…it was the castle of the Captain of the Artillery. Ehhh….a girl can dream. Or maybe I led an army at some point. Highly likely.


The wooden ceiling below was just uncovered in the now privately owned Castello Del Capitano della Artiglierie (Noble Residence of the Capitan). If you look closely you can see 1587 and the Medici family emblem (five red balls and one blue). The same year Francesco d’Medici was poisoned along with his wife…coincidence. We may never know.

img_0468The castle is beautiful and a hidden gem. The surrounding roads are perfect for a motorcycle trip or a beautiful drive in an owned/rented Ferrari (sounds like the Italian experience to me!). The owner offers a beautiful traditional Italian breakfast (cafe, breads, jam).

Check out their website and stay there if ever in Terre del Sole. It is worth every penny.


Excerpt from: Altra RomagnaScreen Shot 2016-05-16 at 16.48.38

THE NOBLE RESIDENCE OF THE CAPITANO. The castle is an integral part of the fortified town of Terra del Sole and is located at one of the entrances of the town. It has an original star and angled shape and is topped by a protruding walkway which used to be used by the guards during the rounds; the walkway is supported by stone layers and cotto arches. The Quarters of the Capitano are on the last floor. Next to the Castle there is the English style Park with herb garden and orchard with trees of times gone by. The Castle, of private property, represents a refine location for events.


For more information head to their website.

Contact Info

Roma in a Day

I wouldn’t recommend it. However, it can be done. The past week and a half my beautiful cousin, Kayla, came to visit me in Italy. We had little sleep, loads of fun, and stories we will never tell. She is actually more like my sister. I don’t have a sister but if I did she would be the only person I’d choose. Ok back to Roma!!! Here is our itinerary…


WAKE UP: 4:00 AM almost miss our flight with rental car return + terminal transfer

FLIGHT: EasyJet It’s not my favourite airline (I’ll save the why for another post) but it’s cheap and was part of our Expedia bundle deal. We arrived early and scooped up Kayla’s bag in a quick 5 mins. Barely enough time for an Italian coffee right by baggage claim.

7:00 am Milan Malpensa (MXP)
8:20 am Roma Fuimicino (FCO)

Transportation to Hotel (15 min) – 25€  (there is a hotel shuttle for 6€ but we couldn’t find it and didn’t have access to a phone loss of 13€)

8:45-9:45am Drop off bags and freshin up. Shuttle back to airport.

Hotel Tiber Fiumicino
Good: clean, new, rooftop pool & bar
Bad: service staff, proximity to airport

9:53-10:25 Train to Rome (Tickets 14€ each)
Trenitalia Regionale Veloce – Fiumicino to Roma Termini

30 min and you’re in the heart of the city! Easy to find as well. Below is a map of the Metro.Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 9.08.22 AM

10:30-11:00 Coliseum Exit train station and change to Metro Linea B (blue on the map) 1.50€ per ticket or you can purchase a 7.00€ all day pass. Take two stops towards Laurentina to COLLOSSEO.

As soon as you exit, or actually before, you see the Coliseum in all its glory. It is truly spettacolare.


Kayla took this photo while being harassed by a selfie stick vendor. Also, I’m channeling my inner Susie Q with my wild hair.

To our surprise, all of the streets were closed in preparation for the Roma marathon (I should have done more research and participated) so we walked to the bus station at Piazza Venezia in front of Via dei Fori Imperiali.

11:00-11:45 Bus to Another Country (getting hungry) we hopped on the 46  (I’m not 100% on the line but just ask a bus driver and they will help. Most people in Italy are more than happy to help you if you ask them. In fact, the will attempt to lead you. Oh, and take the bus so you can see the city!) to the VATICAN.

LUNCHDuecento Gradi (1,000 thumbs up for delicious panini’s)

13:30-16:30 Vatican Tour with a private tour guide (tickets + tour 200 euros, pricey but I believe worth every penny. You can try a big group (which I’ve done) with audio devices but the personal experience is worth the price tag. And our tour guide was able to get us into mass when it was full. IMG_9624

16:45-17:45 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica – UNFORGETABLE

17:45-20:30 Madish Dash Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, Fontana di Trevi by car and foot. My host mom set us up with her cousin who lives in Rome. They picked us up from the Vatican and gave us a mini tour of the city. We left them shortly after the Spanish steps and walked the rest of the way. You can also take the metro.


Fontana di Trevi

We stopped to have gelato at the most famous shop to the left of the fountain. One of my best friends from college, Whitney, told me I couldn’t leave Rome without tasting the best.  And it is the best.

Dinner: Recafe – Pizza, Clams, wine, and lots of laughs. Exit.

Quick stop to ask a construction worker “ahhh dove proximo statzione…spagna?” We walked too far because I am stubborn and hit the Flaminio station. Three stops and back to Roma Termini.

22:05-22:47 Train back to Airport

Taxi to Hotel (20€ we were told because it was late at night there was less of a fee) In reality, they will charge tourists whatever they want. My advice is to barter with everyone. And I mean everyone.

It was a whirlwind of a trip but for some reason we didn’t feel rushed at all. I think when you’re with good company it doesn’t really matter what you do. So, thank you Kayla Jean for flying 6000 miles to make me feel a little more at home. Cant wait for our next adventure.

x T



Packing 101 (Italy)

Before traveling to Italy, I found it very difficult to determine what I needed to pack. I scowered the internet and read countless blogs. To be honest, they were all too long and didn’t account for an active lifestyle. My wardrobe in Italy is a far cry from my wild fox shorts and rainbow sandals days in Venice, CA.


This scarf works with everything

So, here is what I THINK you need to bring to Italy in the winter if you are more of an adventurous gal. Realistically, you only need to pack for a week/week and a half if you have laundry services. CAUTION: PACK SOCKS, or stockings or long underwear…your leggies will get cold. No sandals needed.


  • Booties with a heel (I am short and need height…also good for jumping puddles)
  • Black riding boots (I cut off the harness on my Frye boots) / snow boots if you’re way north)
  • Slippers/Uggs aka warm house shoes (All Italians have house shoes for good reason. It’s cold, you can’t walk barefoot here)
  • Running shoes (black if you have them so you can wear out too)
  • Flats (black / nude to wear with socks)
  • Heels (One pair of black heels)


  • Black Pants
  • Printed trousers
  • Long Black Skirt
  • Denim of choice
  • Overalls (see below from AK in Venice, CA)


Layers and layers. I’ve got cotton thigh highs on for warmth.


  • White collared shirt
  • Long sleeve cotton henley
  • Flannel 
  • Sweaters (Tan, Black, Grey)
  • Long sleeve cotton shirt in Olive


  • Grey / black peacoat
  • Patagonia Black Nano Jacket (water proof)
  • Cashmere wrap / poncho 
  • Running Jacket (Lululemon)


I borrowed this coat from a friend and wear it everyday

Workout Gear:

  • 3 pairs of leggings
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • long socks
  • 2 pairs of running socks
  • gloves
  • running hat

Everything is very basic because life is very basic. I am living in a small town but still think this list would work for Milan. I haven’t left the house in workout gear once to go to the store. I get dressed every morning with purpose. However, I did go to Francesco’s dance class in my pajamas.

Hope this helps you pack for your trip!

x T


Culture Shock. Water. Plastic Life.


Isola San Giulio from Sacro Monte di Orta

I am starting to feel the “culture shock”. This morning, I sat in the teacher’s lounge and felt as if I was in slow motion. I could hear the Italian chatter and could see the prof’s buzzing around me yet I was still. Italians do not have inside voices. In fact, they all seem to yell rather than speak. They aren’t angry, passionate. My heartbeat increased. I thought to myself, where am I? What am I doing? Are you crazy? I was trapped.

I had just finished two lessons, both powerpoint presentations. In the second class, I spoke about California. I realized half of them did not understand one word flying out of my mouth. They were frustrated because they couldn’t understand. I was frustrated because I couldn’t hold their attention. My school day ended at 10:30AM (I started at 7:50 AM…much different than my 10 hour days at GCLA). What the heck was I going to do for the rest of the day? I have no car or means of transportation other than my legs. Trapped again. I couldn’t catch my breath. I started to feel hot (rare, when the daily average is 0 degrees C). Time to go. Thank goodness for my host family.

Ten minutes later I was zooming through the Italian mountains with Angelo (who speaks very little English). He kept saying “by the water”. I didn’t understand. The water was down, not up! More frustration. Ahhhh I wanted to get out of the car and scream. Two minutes later he stopped the car. Andiamo! He shut his door and walked towards the trunk of the car. I happily exited the vehicle and found him unloading large glass jugs. “Water!”. I stopped and realized the sound of running water. In that moment my “culture shock”, self pity and anxiety vanished. We were about to fill glass bottles up with water from a natural spring! I wanted to cry. I don’t know why, but I did. A tear ran down my face as I trudged down the stairs with two bottles in hand. It was beautiful. The sound of the mountain spring, the crisp air and the experience. I felt very lucky and thankful for this moment in time. A number of moments prior to this had to happen to get me here. Some easy and some very difficult. But, now I was in Gozzano filling up bottles with fresh spring water.


Fontana Santa

I started to analyze the waste in my life both physical and mental. How many containers of food or bottles of water had I consumed during my lifetime? How many hours were spent on social media outlets watching other people lives? It’s too much. Food, water, goods, electronics, clothes, iPhones, apps, messaging. These evils are the norm and praised in the States. You can have whatever you want at any moment. Here, I believe it’s easier to only take what you need. Material goods and personal relationships are cherished. I enjoy this way of life.

Ciao Ciao!

x Tara