A Rainy Afternoon at Villa d’Este

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As a fan of the Italian Renaissance era, it only seemed appropriate to visit something exclusively renaissance. Before I actually set foot in Rome, I had no clue what that might be. Unsurprisingly, Rome has so much history layered within it, it’s easy to get a dose of what you’re looking for in just a leisurely walk through the cobbled streets. Everything feels historic, and many things are. What I didn’t expect was to venture out of my limited plans to find what I truly sought. But alas, the beauty of travel is that it pushes you to go out of your own way. And that’s how I came to be at Villa d’Este.

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Set not in the actual city of Rome, but in Tivoli (a small town less than an hour away) Villa d’Este was the point in my trip that I could realistically envision Renaissance life (as silly as that may sound).

I took a group tour to Tivoli on what began as a pretty mild, sunny day. Quickly, as we got closer to the town, the clouds clumped, then got low and heavy. It made me nervous. Would I be able to enjoy the lush gardens in the rain? The few pictures I’d seen of Villa d’Este all included sunshine. But still she did not disappoint. After I got a hold of myself on the slippery, rain-covered grounds and figured out a way to take picture while holding an umbrella, I was free to really absorb my surroundings. It’s easy to imagine cardinals strolling through, taking important meetings in dimly lit corners. Or to imagine ladies of the house walking arm in arm, stopping for a moment to admire one of the many fountains. It all makes you feel as though you’re peeking into a different time.

The accessible parts of the inside were surprisingly small, in the sense that the individual rooms weren’t very large. This gave a sense of coziness to otherwise empty, cold spaces. The decor, the painted ceilings, large windows, somehow brought in light and warmed everything up. In my opinion, however, the best part of this visit was the gardens. It’s what everyone looks forward to (if you take the time to look at the reviews). We were lucky that the rain wasn’t too heavy so we got to view everything at our leisure. Everything was so green and so clearly built for ultimate extravagance. There appear to be fountains and terraces at every level and in every corner. If i ever build my own home, I’m mirroring my grounds to this place!

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What I’ve learned from this small moment of my trip, aside from an easier way to work my camera’s shutter speed and aperture settings, was how rewarding it can be to just go with the flow. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s true! Like many moments in my travels, I hadn’t planned on going until the day before. I hadn’t even researched the place past a quick google images search. Having an itinerary can be beneficial in that it orients you. It provides you with security, knowing where you are and where you can go. But sometimes, you just have to go and experience things off the beaten path. Now to be fair, Villa d’Este is not something I would consider too off the path (it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Centre), but going there was not on my list. So, I’ll count it as being that for me.

Anyway, this was my little adventure on a whim. I hope this adventure inspires you to find your road less travelled, whatever that may look like!

And as always,

Happy traveling!

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Copenhagen: In Search of Hygge

Denmark is cold in October. And by cold, I mean freezing. I know this for a fact, because a year ago I was in its capital, Copenhagen. As someone who finds my own personal hygge (the Danish word for a feeling of extraordinary comfort) in 80°F weather, the idea of a cold vacation seemed laughable. Who goes from a cold place during winter to an even colder place for vacation? Well apparently, as I’ve come to learn, plenty of people do…now, including me.

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I arrived at night, taking the train from the airport into the city using my Copenhagen Card, and trekked to my roomate’s friend’s apartment, where I was staying. I had ignorantly left my coat at home in Paris, so that walk goes down as the longest and coldest one of my life. Delirious and exhausted (from what, I’m not sure), I crashed instantly, but not before making a pact with my roommate, who I was travelling with, that we’d wake up early to take advantage of the meagre four days we had.

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Spoiler: we slept in much later than we ought have.

Architecture:

 

I have a few friends who’d been to the city and rave about Danish architecture. From the royal family’s palace, Amelianborg, to the greenhouse in the botanical gardens, to the classic row houses found on its river’s banks, Copenhagen’s buildings are breathtaking. If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll find a lot to fawn over. I’m not sure how they built the roof over the aquarium, but woah, am I right?

Food:

I travel to eat. There, I said it. It’s my favorite part of visiting a new city. I like trying traditional foods. I like trying foods from immigrants, because they tend to blend the local cultures with their own in interesting ways. This is especially true at Papirøen, or Paper Island, a warehouse filled with international street vendors. There, I ate the best Turkish falafel, best Brazilian barbecue, and best apple fritters I’ve ever tasted. If I weren’t vegan now, I would fly back to Copenhagen just for the Brazilian chicken and sausage at Paper Island.

 

 

Aside from Paper Island, you can find cool eateries easily all around the city. Many of the restaurants we loved we found on the fly, desperate for substance and a place to sit. So just walk around and you’re guaranteed to find something yummy to eat. I will say, the deserts at Tivoli blew my mind.

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There’s a lot more I could say about Copenhagen and, I admit, I’ve been having a hard time summarizing what it is that stuck out to me about it. In some ways, I think that’s the point. The city has a slow burning effect on you. One minute all you can think about is how cold your hands are and the next you’re staring at some of the most beautiful architecture you’ve ever seen or eating the best Brazilian food you’ve ever tasted, and all the little things that bring you down fade away. I didn’t really get to appreciate how much I enjoyed my time there until I looked back on some of the photos. Reliving this city in my mind, through the few moments I captured, solidifies Copenhagen as one of my favorite cities to date.

Don’t be afraid to book a ticket and get traveling!

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