One of the best decisions I have ever made for myself (if not THE best) was to spend a semester of college traveling Europe. I had discussed the idea with my family in passing but it never struck me as a real possibility. At the time I was in a bad relationship, lacking confidence, and just feeling very stuck in a negative place. If you are, or have ever been a 20 something year old woman, you know this is not an uncommon feeling. It took a huge push from my family to leave my “comfort zone” and take the plunge. I agreed to the trip less than a month before leaving, so the weeks leading up were filled with chaos trying to get everything ready (typical Stephanie fashion). It didn’t hit me until I actually got on the plane that 1. I was going to live in Rome for 3+ months not knowing anything about the city.. and 2. I was going ALONE, not knowing a single soul.
The thought of traveling alone can be seriously scary! However, it is truly the BEST way to find appreciation for the world, for the beautiful people in it, and for yourself. To be completely lost in a foreign land forces you to become aware of how much beauty is right in front of you. It also forces you to trust yourself and literally follow your heart. After the first couple weeks in Rome, I finally looked up from my map and fell in love.. with EVERYTHING. I learned to put my phone down, be vulnerable, and fully embrace new experiences and relationships. In turn, I gained some of the most pure and real friendships and memories thus far. If you can do one thing for yourself, travel without a plan. Get rid of your safety net, whether it be a schedule, a cell phone, or a group of people. Take a risk on YOU. Trust in yourself, broaden your horizons and add some color to your beautiful canvas.
Alright let’s talk WINE!
One of my favorite things to do on weeknights in Rome was walk down the inner streets and stop at random restaurants and cafes along the way. I typically started the day with a warm, buttery pastry and cappuccino and ended it with a glass of table wine (or 3) and fresh pasta. There is a hierarchy of Italian wines, classified by the particular area of which it is from and specific restrictions in said areas. The categories range from Vini, which is basic table wine, to Vini DOP, or wines with Protected Designation of Origin.
2011 Sada “Baldoro" IGT Toscana
This week I decided to feature an Italian IGT (Wines with Protected Geographical Indication). IGT is one step above a basic table wine. This particular wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano, and Alicante. With very fruity aromas, I tasted a lot of cherry and juicy black berry flavors, followed by a lingering spicy finish. I suggest opening this bottle and letting it sit for about an hour before drinking. The longer I let this wine sit and open up, the more I loved it. It softened on the palate and that black pepper spice was able to shine through with time. Whether you drink it with some homemade italian cuisine, or bring it to your favorite BYOB restaurant, this is a great pairing for any traditional italian meal. Ciao!