Categories Italy Travel Junkie Diary of

Mona Karaoui

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Mona KaraouiLike0

An editor by day, journal blogger by night and a beautiful soul forever, Mona Karaoui’s blog depicts a dose of observations from her daily life, a bit of art, a bit of love, and a bit of literature, from Dubai and crazy beautiful Beirut to the whole world. She has a unique personality. Smart, beautiful and filled with inspiration and passion for Arabic language. We are delighted to have her here on Travel Junkie Diary! Make sure to follow her blog everyday. Share her passionate stories and fall in love with her.

Here is her diary

Destination Italy

I was just about to say London (I’ve been a regular for the past few years), but I most recently did fall under the spell of Roman charm, and I’d like to shed light on that. The food, the food, the food. And then the thick divine olive oil! And then the national heritage, the preserved culture and architecture, the walking, the pausing, the buongiornos..(sigh..)

Stayed at

I was with two very good friends of mine and we stayed quite central at the Rome Times hotel, Via Milano close to the Colloseum. We chose a hotel that would allow us to be at the heart of the city and would give us the opportunity to walk around. The experience was exceptional. The hotel had 2 buildings, the common 4- star hotel we’re all accustomed to, and then attached to it is an annex, but in the form of an old-style building with a massive black wooden door. That is where we stayed. An awesome old-fashioned elevator was my ride to the second floor everyday. The rooms, were, while not very lavish, kept tidy and clean. The service was good, and we happened to have breakfast there twice, which was also quite acceptable.

Month September, and I think it was perfect- quite warm during the day, just chilly enough at night

In your suitcase

I kept it quite casual: one boyfriend jeans, 2 shorts, 2 day skirts with Casual Tees and jumpers, with a Converse and 2 Soludos for the day. I had a slightly chicer evening wardrobe but did stick to flats also at night. It gets chilly around the city in the evening so make sure you have a light jacket or scarf on you. Also stick to messenger bags while you’re at it. The lighter you are, the longer you can walk.

Dined at

We didn’t really hit any Michelin- starred restaurants. I was more interested in keeping the experience random, and aimed at discovering the local culture and cuisine.

– “Da Luzzi” in the Celio neighborhood is where I had the yummiest Italian pizza of my life- at a very local, modest yet lip-smacking, family-owned restaurant. They serve their red wine in a pitcher- and their Tiramisu: Divine!!!

– We also accidentally discovered an amazing bistro restaurant called “Ginger” in a narrow alleyway, by the Piazza di Spagna. Not only are their salads fresh, extra large and absolutely delicious, their fruit smoothies are also out of this world! Their concept is centered on promoting the consumption of more fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. SOLD!

Shopped at

I didn’t spare much time for shopping (Surprise!!) as I got truly engaged with the city, but I did get killer biker boots from a beautiful leather shoe-shop that sells local emerging designer shoes only, called “Altariva Roma” at Via del Tritone. Also while you’re there, you might want to pay Via Margutta a visit. The street is arguably the best for antique and vintage stores. I unfortunately did not get the chance to drop by.

Diary

For four days, I strolled. The city was a walking museum and there was something new for me to discover at every corner. I was having too little sleep (that’s me when I travel, I don’t want to miss a thing). Suddenly, tacky “Eat, Pray and Love” was no longer tacky. I made a wish at Fontaine Trevvi (am still waiting for that to materialize), I walked up the Spanish Steps, and then I spent the sunset up there devouring the beauty of the city from atop from the Roof garden of the Portrait Suites Hotel owned by no other than the Ferragamos, which by the way serves exquisite cocktails.

I met plenty of smitten tourists like myself, annoyed employees, hasty taxi drivers who insisted to speak to me- an alien to Italian language- in Italian (which I found quite amusing). The city shouts, laughs, and breathes Italian. LOVE.

I was lucky to have been introduced by a friend to her friend who lives and works in Rome. Samir was kind enough to not only show me around, but also treat me to another side of Rome at night on the back of his Motorcycle, twice. It was fantastic!  Names for you to note down:

–   Campo de Fiori: has pubs all around it, and it’s great to go on a football game night. Supporters of Lazio vs. supporters of AS Roma almost had a quarrel there, but it was all so fun to watch. Rest assured, it all ended amicably.

–   Sites to visit: My time was limited so I bought a red-bus 48 hour pass and hopped on and off at most of the cultural sites. Make it a point to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican (if you can spare a free day), and the Colloseum (I rented out an Audio Guide and allowed for my imagination to freely vagabond there for an entire morning. Being at the same place where “gladiators were made” definitely forced me to reiterate my faith in the goodness of humanity)

Tips

Expect to step into small beautiful churches at every corner of the city. Expect not to be spoken to in English. Expect not to stick to a schedule. Expect the unexpected!

–   For those of you who are lovers of art, Il Vittoriano Museum is definitely worth a visit. I was lucky to be there in time for an eccentric art exhibition by Italian artist Bruno Pellegrino, and then I waited in line to climb the top of Il Vittoriano and enjoyed a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole city.

–   For those of you who are lovers of Tiramisu, make it a point to visit Pompi at Via Albalonga. It is allegedly the best in Rome and does serve Banana Nutella Tiramisu!! Don’t go on a Monday night though. I did, and it was closed.

Mode of Travel

We travelled from Dubai via Paris with Air France. We had a very smooth flight on the way there and back. Once in Italy, we used the train to travel to Florence and back for a friend’s wedding (which was also magical)

“So Rome, in a nutshell (the travel junkie does not believe in nutshells) is at once enchanting and enchanted. You will feel it the moment you set foot in the city. You give her love. She gives you inspiration. So do allow yourself to get immersed in its wonders. Take note of its untouched architecture. Gaze at the abundance of its random local art. Acknowledge family ties between its locals. Admire its elderly couples still holding hands at the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. Make friends with its Pinocchios! Hop on its carousel rides! Overdose on its Amaretti Gelato, and then before bed, rewind, write, and archive! Get lost!”

church colloseum headless ilvittoriano localstroll meditate miniaturecar photoginger pinnochio pondromain redwindows romebynight spanishsteps

Travel Junkie Diary

A bohemian traveler

7 comments

  1. Yolla says:

    Nice diary Mona!

  2. Farida Khattar says:

    Wow!!!!!! Nice pictures! Hey TJD, I simply have to say you are brilliant for creating such a platform!!

  3. monakaraoui says:

    Thank you ladies!! I am glad you enjoyed the read! Dana Congrats and Happy Honeymoon 🙂

  4. Danielle faryl says:

    Thank you Mona! I love Italy too! Changed my life too

  5. Dana A. says:

    I ADORE THIS Planning my honeymoon there!!! Very detailed!

Leave a Reply

Follow @ traveljunkiediary
  • Sailing has become our family norm in summers for a very long time - sleeping on a yacht for days has become somewhat of a summer tradition for Chloè now in Greece. I’ve been lucky enough to have great sailing experience and learning from the best. This summer, back to Portugal but this time across the islands for the very first time!!
  • She’s the girl that has a thousands things to say to you, and a thousands reasons not to... 💫
  • I can’t wait to go back to my beautiful home 🇱🇧 Have you been to lebanon before? ♥️
  • I read once that some people have the ability to magnetize the people they need to help push them even further into greatness. Some take them for granted, some don't see it because they are too blind. But for those who can see it, be grateful for it, because even if you think you don't need them, one day you might understand the chemistry you once had. 💫
  • Just found this photo, 4 years ago, when I was back in Sri Lanka, it feels like another lifetime, do you ever have that feeling when looking at old photos?
  • The start of summer days in Dubai isn’t so easy with the heat but I’ve managed to pull through by keeping busy with upcoming projects and getting ready for my trip back to Portugal in a couple of weeks for summer!
The exciting bit is that on Saturday the 9th of June in Dubai, I’m hosting another successful and popular workshop: ‘Let’s Get Social’ A workshop on how to turn your passion into a business and the use social media. You can message me to learn more on how to join and learn almost everything I know on how to run your business successfully on social media and tips on successful blogging! Happy Sunday everyone! ☀️
  • There is something you should know... I don’t have everything figured out. Believe me, sometimes, even the people who look like they have their sh*t together... sometimes don’t know what the hell they are doing, but that’s ok because we are not meant to all the time! ♥️
Thank you to @dennisstever for the picture 💫
  • The midnight sun. Where the sun never sets. Endless days... For once, I finally found a place where I had enough hours in the day to do everything I wanted. To take my shots without rushing for the sun to set and keep those color in the skies for more than just seconds and minutes and have endless conversations with friends. This is the sun at midnight beyond the arctic. The sun remains this way till sunrise in the summer from the 20th of May till the 21st of  June and we witnessed the first day of the rise of the midnight sun ♥️ thanks to my wonderful friends @pukkatravels where you can join my next trip in October but this time, we sail in search of the Northern Lights 💫
  • JOIN ME THIS OCTOBER!! The remote islands in Tromsø are one of the most rugged landscapes I’ve ever seen!! I’m so excited to share it with you for those who are interested in joining one of my next @travelwithtjd adventure series with @dennisstever who took this photo of me!!
In October you can also join us as we sail for one night in the arctic and into the fjords to watch the NORTHERN LIGHTS, the rest of our stay will be on land driving into the fjords and set a campfire to see the Auroras! 
It’s going to be an adventure with photography advise, arctic wildlife on ground, at sea and in the skies!
In partnership with my dearest friends from @pukkatravels 
Spaces are very limited and all the info is found in the link in my bio and you can always get in touch if you have any questions!! (More on highlighted stories) #TravelwithTJD
  • I hope you find that place one day. Where the chaos inside is understood and your heart feels at home... no matter where you are. 💫
  • Lost and unlost... Lost and unlost... Over and over again. 
It was almost midnight, (Yes, this is how midnight looks like) where the sun never sets till sunrise, and we decided to climb up the hill to see where we actually anchored the boat, knowing this was a remote island.  The wind was pushing us back and forth and we kept losing balance, no tripod would ever stand-alone. Then, when we reached the top, both Dennis and I froze, dropped to the ground from the shock and suddenly we were numb. The light from the midnight sun reflected the mountains, the sea, the grass and the skies turned pink and purple!! All of a sudden I had a rush of emotions that I couldn’t hold inside of me and my eyes were filled with tears, mostly from the wind and mostly from not knowing how to deal with so much feelings. 
This was a reality I would always want to stay awake for. Then, @dennisstever pulled his camera and took my picture when I was in my moment and I’m so grateful for that!! @pukkatravels @travelwithtjd
  • They say, reality is a projection of your thoughts. I’ve dreamed about sailing north of the arctic for years... I never doubted for a second that it would not happen ‘one day’ but, nothing every prepared me for what I’m experiencing on this trip witnessing the magic of the midnight sun!! I’ve seen and felt things I never imagined existed or at least only on @natgeotravel magazines. This is the start of my 3 day journey sailing in the arctic! 💫

I’m also very excited to announce our new partnership with @pukkatravels for our next @travelwithtjd #TravelWithTJD in October and now, you can join me too! Information will be up tonight on the link in bio!