I've Eaten Prayed Loved, Part 1: Italy

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Aug 11, 2010
Rome / belenox/iStock

I am possibly the only woman in America who has not read Eat Pray Love, which hits theaters this Friday, August 13th, as a movie starring Julia Roberts, but I have traveled to all the inspiring places author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in her memoir: Italy, my absolute favorite place on the planet; India, one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever visited; and Bali (shown above), which I adore for it being as equally serene as it is chaotic.

To be honest, the Eat Pray Love trailers have made me curious to see the movie (but not when I’m hungry, given all the pizza Julia seems to devour!). In the meantime, here’s my take on these three fabulously romantic travel destinations, which every woman (and her man) should see in their lifetime. And wouldn’t you know it –autumn is a wonderful time to visit them all.


What makes this Mediterranean realm of linguine and Lamborghini, fritto misto and Fendi, and prosciutto and Prada so tantalizing? Two words: food and style. Make that amazing food and A-list style. I have eaten and shopped my way through Italy on a dozen different occasions, each time marveling at how Italians manage to brilliantly preserve the past and pioneer the fashion of the moment.

Elizabeth (Julia) seems to eat her way around Rome, one of Italy’s most dynamic cities, so let’s focus on that. My advice – wear comfy shoes and see it all: The Colosseum and Forum, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, Piazza Navona (shown above at right), the Trevi Fountain, and Villa Borghese.

Depending on your budget, stay at one of three hotels: Hotel Forty Seven, a modern, art-filled boutique property near the Roman Forum (shown above; courtesy of Hotel Forty Seven), from $329/night; St. George Roma, an intimate and stylish luxury hotel not far from the Vatican, from $404/night; or Hotel de Russie, a sophisticated five-star with beautiful gardens near the Villa Borghese, from $699/night.

Food-wise, I never seem to get enough of thin-crusted pizza margarita (grab a slice to go at Sale Miele, just off of Piazza Navona); gelato, especially bacio and pistachio flavors, at least once a day; and gnocchi, smothered in pesto and Parmesan. For fabulously fresh pasta and seafood, reserve a table at La Gensola in Trastevere. If you’re celebrating your love, splurge on the nine-course tasting menu (198 euro per person) at La Pergola for three hours of three-Michelin-star taste sensations and a sunset view you’ll never forget (shown at left; courtesy of the Rome Cavalieri).

Up next: India and Bali.

Start planning your next getaway with our Romance Travel Deals. For general trip-planning info, see our Italy Travel Guide.

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