I’m back! From Italy, where we spend a magical week in Tuscany with my parents and Lilly, and from my little newsletter hiatus. The last few weeks have been a bit nutty with getting ramped up at Hungryroot (more on my new job here) and then getting ready to leave for our trip. But I was up at 5 a.m. this morning thanks to jet lag so it seemed like as good a time as any to jump back into things.
Here are some favorites from our trip, including a link to our master Italy doc, plus the best baby purchase I’ve made so far and tasty spring cooking ideas.
Italia, Italia: We *love* Italy and have been lucky to spend a fair bit of time in Tuscany, especially Pienza. On this trip, we went back to old favorites and discovered some new ones. This doc has all our musts (mostly food, obvi) and I’ll keep updating it.
Things to do when you’re jet-lagged: In addition to writing this newsletter, I used the pre-dawn hours to overhaul my travel-dull skin with Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, which uses beta hydroxy acids to zip away dead skin without any irritation. My other favorite mask is Herbivore’s Brighten, which I am patiently waiting to come back into stock on Birchbox.
Traveling with a baby, crawling edition: We haven’t flown with Lilly since she was five months and this trip was completely different for many reasons. She’s very mobile and aware of her surroundings, which is extremely fun but also makes things more complicated. Every baby is different but here is what helped us:
- Reinforcements: My parents came with us on our trip, which was wonderful for many reasons, and also made things so. much. easier. I know it’s not always possible or desirable but if you’ve got helpful grandparents, consider it.
- Daily play time: When she’s at home, Lilly is constantly crawling and cruising around so it was hard for her to stay in the stroller, on our laps, or in the carrier for long periods of time. We quickly found that she was much happier if we gave her a couple hours in the morning and afternoon to just explore our AirBnB or hotel room.
- Talk to people with kids: We got recommendations from some parent friends living in Florence and it was so helpful—they suggested an amazing restaurant with excellent food and a play area, plus a nearby park where Lilly could get her wiggles out on the swing set.
- Embracing the time difference: The nice thing about flying to Europe is that you’re likely going to be earlier and waking up earlier; that means you can slide into restaurants when it’s quiet (and hopefully more kid friendly) and arrive at sights first thing (before the crowds). In Florence, we were first at David and the Uffizi, both of which got slammed a couple hours after opening.
- House rental over hotel: We booked an AirBnB in Florence and it was perfect. Having a kitchen was great for breakfast, and for pumping purposes, and we used the washing machine to get countless pasta stains our of Lilly’s clothes.
- Going somewhere familiar: When we booked our trip, part of me was sad to be retracing old steps—how wrong I was. For our first big international trip, it was amazing to be in places that we knew because it took a big chunk of the stress (where to eat, what to do) out of things. Plus, Tuscany.
Travel MVP (and worth the splurge): Multiple friends told us that the BabyZen Yoyo was the best thing they purchased and after this trip I’m 100% in agreement. It’s an incredibly light, compact stroller that also happens to be very nice looking. We use it at home plenty but it’s truly amazing for travel: you can basically fold it with one hand; it’s slim enough to fit in cramped restaurants and sights; and handled bumpy and steep streets admirably well.
Speed reading: Before we left, I joked that I wanted an escapist book like Jurassic Park for our trip. Well, I ended up downloading it to my Kindle and sure enough, finished it within a couple days of our trip. If you haven’t read it, it’s definitely worth it and it’ll probably make you want to re-watch the movie, too. On the other end of the spectrum, I also bought An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, and am almost finished—it’s a stunning novel about a young couple whose lives are changed when the husband is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. Her writing is gorgeously rich and evocative and the characters stick with you.
Cooking inspo: This trip was a great reminder that simple is best. Some of the best things we ate had just a handful of ingredients: fresh, raw favas with creamy semi-aged pecorino; marinated zucchini and eggplant; and plenty of beans swimming in olive oil and rosemary. I’m excited to try to recreate some of them, and Rob’s also attempting pizza biancathis weekend—wish him luck!
A new spritz for spring: I’ve said it before but aperitivo hour is the best hour. On this trip, we drank plenty of negronis but also explored other bitter beverages, including the Cynar Spritz, which is slightly herbal and extremely refreshing.
And, in non-Italy news, we’ve dusted off our Toddy and are in full iced coffee mode. While you can make cold brew using a regular jar and sieve, the Toddy makes things much easier and less messy—it’s worth it. Devoción just opened a pretty new cafe in our neighborhood and we’ve been using their Toro blend for cold brew and it’s smooth and delicious.
Ciao for now xx