Meeting adventurer and TV presenter Simon Reeve

Simon Reeve is an adventurer, TV presenter and New York Times bestselling author with a passion for travel, wildlife, history, current affairs, conservation and the environment. Simon is the presenter of the BBC TV series Indian Ocean and has been around the world three times for the epic BBC series Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, and Tropic of Cancer. He has travelled extensively in more than 110 countries.

TV adventurer and presenter Simon Reeve

TV adventurer and presenter Simon Reeve

When luxury travel agent Kuoni called me recently and asked if I wanted to meet Simon, I was intrigued. Really quite intrigued. I had heard of Simon, but hadn’t seen any of the TV programmes that he is known for. Luckily for me, the BBC just started showing his latest series – Indian Ocean – and I was able to get to know Simon’s work. I was really quite impressed – I liked him on camera, and was wowed (not quite sure if this is a word!) by the way he travels and why he does so. I was really looking forward to meeting him in real life, which I did at a private event held to celebrate the launch of Kuoni at John Lewis department store in the UK.

Before the official event, myself and 2 other bloggers were given the opportunity to have a one to one (or a 4 to 1, really) with the man himself. It was refreshing to see how “normal” Simon was, and he did make me laugh…

I really wish I could tell you what Simon said to make me laugh like this!

I really wish I could tell you what Simon said to make me laugh like this!

So, you have been around the world a good 3 times (or so I have read). Which were your favourite and least favourite places?

Hello and thanks for the questions..! Faves for me include Botswana, Bangladesh and Denmark, for all sorts of different reasons, but mainly Botswana for wildlife, Bangladesh for inspiring locals, and Denmark for being a fantastically well-run country.

Plus my wife is half-Danish, so I’m biased. Least favourite? I’m far too diplomatic to risk offending anyone, but I’ll stick my neck out and say I’m not a great fan of Dubai. I don’t like fake states or places where everyone uses air-conditioning to survive.

What is the most unusual custom you have ever come across or been asked to take part in? (this was the winning question)

A quick trawl of the brain suggests it’s probably kokpar, which is a weird custom masquerading as a sport in Kazakhstan. It involves playing polo with the corpse of a headless goat. It’s mad and wrong on many levels, but the locals love it and I was forced to have a go. Other unusual customs would include being smeared with blood and adopted by a tribe of former headhunters in Borneo. That was a strange day.

Seriously, have you been to Portugal? What did you think of it?

Yes! Why would I lie about such a thing? I didn’t get out of Lisbon, but still: I’ve been, and loved it. I was significantly younger and spent most of the time drinking and dancing.

Simon Reeve shares his tales with an exclusive audience at John Lewis

Simon Reeve shares his tales with an exclusive audience at John Lewis

Apart from your passport and money, what can’t you travel without?

Torches, knife, flapjacks and/or shortbread. And tea bags. I need a brew in the afternoon.

Tell us about luggage.. you don’t travel light, do you?

Not really. I’ve tried, but then I curse myself when I need whatever it is I’ve left behind. We have to be ready for anything on the journeys I do – which is part of the fascination, of course. But that does mean lots of bits and bags.

Airplanes, trains, boats and cars – what is your favourite mode of transportation? Any least favourites?

Favourite is definitely by train. For all the clichéd reasons and more. We’ve all got into a mindset that a holiday or adventure is all about the destination, when in fact, it needs to be about the journey as well.

Easy for me to say, perhaps, but I just think people who jet off without even looking at where they’re going on a map are missing out on a huge part of the experience. One of my best journeys was going from London to Istanbul by train with my brother a few years back. The landscape evolves and changes around you when you’re on a train in a completely memorable way. You don’t get that at 35,000 feet. My least favourite mode? Camel. They really don’t like me.

Fiona Harris had a lot of questions for Simon Reeve

Fiona Harris had a lot of questions for Simon Reeve

You cover such enormous distances in your television programmes, and you must be filming for a considerable amount of time, so how flexible do you need to be about what goes into the episodes? To what extent is the content of the series determined before you leave? Do you have a fixed idea of the story you want to tell, or do you set out with a loose outline of what you want to look at, but decide on the narrative direction of the filming once you’re on location?

Yep, we cover huge distances, and we’re spending other people’s money of course, so it would be outrageous if we didn’t plan what we’re doing in advance. I know roughly what I want to do and the stories I want to tell, but I rarely know exactly how we’ll do it. Unlike most other TV shows we don’t have a script or a ‘recce’ – so nobody goes out ahead of me to plan it all like some Hollywood movie. That means we generally arrive somewhere and then we quickly have to assess the best way of us filming a shantytown, a magnificent view, a shocking story, an elusive threatened animal, or whatever it is, and then we have to get on with it. Generally we’re making it up as we go along, which is more challenging but also more fun and interesting than following a script.

What has been your favourite street food and has there been anything you’ve been too squeamish to eat?

Vietnamese street food is amazing and would get my vote. There’s been a few times when we’ve stopped on a long car journey in different parts of the world and the team have spotted that grilled squirrel / fried caterpillars are being sold by the road. Of course my ‘friends’ then start rubbing their hands in glee because it’s part of my daft job description to sample the exotic local grub.

Usually it’s not too bad, although in Laos our driver ordered a plate of steaming buffalo poo, which was awful. The only time I remember turning my nose up was in Borneo many years ago when I was offered monkey by a tribe. That’s like eating my cousin. But you try explaining to famished villagers that they need to preserve their local wildlife.

Apparently we both like blue

Apparently we both like blue

How do you balance travel impact with the need for conservation? This goes both for environmental impact, but also one could imagine that places you show in your TV show, could face an influx of tourists that exceeds their capacity.

Well, I try to tell stories about issues that matter in my programmes, and hopefully there’s a conservation benefit to Brits and viewers globally learning about environmental threats to the Indian Ocean, for example.

I also try to travel with my eyes open, so I learn about the places and countries I’m visiting. It’s really important we do that. And I’m trying to encourage viewers to make a difference when they’re on their foreign adventures by doing things like visiting National Parks and Marine Protected Areas. When we pay our entrance fee and have a memorable day in a protected bit of the planet we’re helping to pay for its upkeep – we’re actually playing a vital role in stopping a forest, for example, from being turned into a palm oil plantation. Or when tourists go out snorkeling with guides who used to be fishermen they’re helping to protect life on our vital coral reefs. So tourism has a crucial role to play in protecting and conserving life on our planet. Yes, of course, there’s an environmental impact to our travels, and we should all do our utmost to mitigate and reduce the damage we cause, but then every aspect of our modern lives impacts on the planet.

Any obvious places you haven’t been to yet? Where are you off to next?

I’m blessed and hugely privileged to have been to more than 110 countries. But there’s lots of places I haven’t been that I’d love to visit: Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Senegal, Benin, Iceland, Canada. I’m not just off to somewhere next, I’m already there: I’m in Australia, filming a new telly series. It’s hot here, and it’s beautiful. Happy travels.

Simon and a special friend during the shooting of Indian Ocean

Simon and a special friend during the shooting of Indian Ocean

And there you go! Something a little bit different on mrsoaroundtheworld.com. This is also a special week, as this little blog turns a year old.. so expect a few surprises!

If you want to find out more about Simon’s TV programmes and adventures, please visit his blog.

xo

Mrs. O

Missing summer, missing the Algarve

It is no secret that summer is, without a doubt, my favourite season of the year. I love the beach, the sun and the long lazy lunches by the sea.

One place we visit every year – and part of my pre-nuptial agreement with Mr. O -, is the Algarve, in the south of Portugal. This is when that as an Englishman, he is glad he didn’t marry a Russian lady (I do not mean any offense by this, Portugal is closer to the UK and has more sun, that is all).

Not a bad view, is it?

Not a bad view, is it?

Every year, we set off for a special week, which pretty much goes like this: we fly to Lisbon (and say hello to my parents) on a Friday evening, have a delicious breakfast (I will spare you the photos), then head for 2 days in Alentejo, which is a region located between Lisbon and the very south of Portugal – the Algarve.

This year was no exception, as we enjoyed a fantastic stay at Convento do Espinheiro and indulged in an incredible wine tasting weekend. We then drove to the Algarve, and spent ‘not’ enough time at the brand new Fazenda Nova, where we hope to go back again, as we loved it so much.

One thing I hate is crowds, and while we can, we avoid school holidays at all costs. This week in the Algarve is about catching up on sun rays (with appropriate SPF protection), sleep and, guess what, endulge in the incredible local food.

When I think of my summer holidays with my family (or weekends, for that matter), I think of 2-hour lunches by the beach. I will help you picture these:

Clams with white wine sauce, coriander and garlic - Heaven as I call it

Clams with white wine sauce, coriander and garlic – Heaven as I call it

Mr. O isn’t fluent in Portuguese, even after almost 8 years, but ameijoas (Portuguese for clams) was one of his first 10 words. I am actually not being condescending – my husband will never go hungry in Portugal.

Grilled Sardines - or summer on a plate

Grilled Sardines – or summer on a plate

Portuguese food is extremely simple – it is all about the fresh ingredients. For me, grilled sardines, boiled potatoes and roasted pepper and onion salad, washed down with sparkling wine sangria is, indeed, summer on a plate. I do not need anything else to be happy.. or maybe I do?

Shrimps with rock salt - kill me now

Shrimps with rock salt – kill me now

Enough food! I am getting very hungry and is not helping my homesickness.

For the last couple of years (and a few more), we have been staying at the Sheraton Algarve – it has a good location between Vilamoura and Albufeira (we do have a thing about driving around and go to different beaches every day. Or almost – don’t ask!), fabulous rooms, views and one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. This year we simply did not go to other beaches. And we missed breakfast everyday. This hotel was simply perfect for what we wanted and needed.

Yay, another day at the beach!

Yay, another day at the beach!

The 2012 beach bag, given to be by the lovely Leah

The 2012 beach bag, given to be by the lovely Leah

Caught by Mr. O tweeting, or checking Facebook. I *did* have wifi at the beach ;)

Caught by Mr. O tweeting, or checking Facebook. I *did* have wifi at the beach 😉

An almost empty beach before sunset - time for a gin & tonic

An almost empty beach before sunset – time for a gin & tonic

Mrs. O’s Algarve little address book:

For lunch, we love:

– Golfinho Azul – basically the next beach after the Sheraton (where all the photos above were taken).

– Restinga – at Alvor Beach (still one of my favourite beaches in the Algarve)

– Gigi Beach, at Quinta do Lago – www.quintadolago.com/en/resort/destination/dining/24…/63-gigis

A few of my favourite restaurants for dinner include:

– Akvavit in Vilamoura Marina – www.restaurante-akvavit.com

– Pequeno Mundo in Almancil – www.restaurantepequenomundo.com

– Pássaro Azul in Olhos d’Água

– Vila Lisa in Mexilhoeira Grande

Pássaro Azul, in Olhos d'Agua - perfect for dinner

Pássaro Azul, in Olhos d’Agua – perfect for dinner

The wooden bridge that leads to Quinta do Lago beach - without a doubt, one of my favourite places in the Algarve

The wooden bridge that leads to Quinta do Lago beach – without a doubt, one of my favourite places in the Algarve

So if Portugal, or the Algarve, to be more precise has never been part of your summer plans, I hope I have been able to show you this special part of the world.

No matter where we are fortunate to go, anywhere in the world, we never give up our week here. It is relaxed, understated and no matter what, kind of feels like home.

Until next July 🙂

xo

Mrs. O

A walk in Milan with Walks of Italy

When I knew I was going to Genova, I quickly looked at the map and realised I really wasn’t far from Milan. I have been to Milan quite a few times, but not in the last couple of years and was really looking forward to it. And a walk in Milan with Walks of Italy plus much was all we had time for!

After a 90-minute drive, my friend and PR-guru Lynsey Devon and I arrived at the city centre on a beautiful sunny day. Ciao, Milano!

Ciao Milano! Our first glimpse of the Piazza del Duomo

Ciao Milano! Our first glimpse of the Piazza del Duomo

When I was in Girona earlier this year, I met one of the founders of Walks of Italy, who kindly invited me to walk with them next time I was in this fabulous country.

I thought that the day we had in town would be perfect opportunity and my friend Lynsey and I were really looking forward to spending 2h30m with Serena, our private guide. We were due to visit the Duomo, the Galeria Vittorio Emmanuelle and the epic La Scala – perfect, because I had never really seen these landmarks as the queues always put me off. Not a problem if you go with a Walks of Italy guide!

The ultimate tourist photo at Piazza del Duomo, Milan

The ultimate tourist photo at Piazza del Duomo, Milan

Despite the big hair (don’t laugh, we had a really early start, after another long night out!), and the crowds, we found the lovely Serena, just by one of the Duomo doors. After a quick introduction, we were told a lot about the history of this incredible building which is now “almost” restored. I particularly liked the bronze doors, which were only added in the 1950s.

Duomo door detail

Duomo door detail

We quickly entered the Duomo (Mrs. O loves the concept of no queues, yes) and were lucky that a mass was being held. There is something about Mass in Italian – it was very moving. We were also quite impressed by the technology used – large screens, slide shows, the lot. It is a large building and I suppose it makes sense.

I loved the candles

I loved the candles

I was raised Catholic and one thing I always do when I go to a church is to light a candle. I don’t think (or at least I can’t recall) seeing so many candles in one place.  I loved it. We were told that different areas where for different “wishes”, so Lynsey and I took no chances – we wanted health for ourselves and our loved ones, and also love and others things. So we lit a few.

Lighting a candle

Lighting a candle

From the main part of the church, we were shown the archeological site which sits below the Duomo. Other churches had been built there before, and they were found in the 1960s when the works for the metro began. It was time to see some sunlight and get to the roof!

Piazza del Duomo as seen from the rooftop

Piazza del Duomo as seen from the rooftop

To get to the rooftop, you can either walk (no, thank you!) or take a lift. There is only one lift and this can take quite a bit.. it was better to wait a little bit than the alternative 😉

Lynsey and I at the top of the Duomo (no idea who the guy is)

Lynsey and I at the top of the Duomo (no idea who the guy is)

From the Duomo, we headed to the Galeria Vittorio Emmanuele. It was painful to see the rooftop bar at La Rinascente department store and knowing I didn’t have enough time to visit. Or see Tod’s and all the other shops I loved and not being able to help the local economy. These are first world problems, indeed.

I love the Galeria. It is, of course, one of Milan’s landmarks and I can’t get enough of it.

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle - love the ceiling

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle – love the ceiling

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle - always busy

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle – always busy

You may have heard about my love for shoes. I tried to sneek into Prada, but Lynsey dragged me out – I just wanted to ‘have a look’. However, as I did the walk of shame, I noticed that my shoes matched the floor (boys, stop reading – only girls will understand this). I am really into bordeaux this season and this was a happy coincidence.

Matching colours...

Matching colours…(no jokes allowed about the size of my shoes)

From here, we walked to the fabulous La Scala theatre. I had visions of myself attending a white-tie event here – I would really like to do it one day.

La Scala Opera House

La Scala Opera House

I know we were not supposed to take photographs inside, but I couldn’t resist. The chandeliers at the foyer (no champagne being served, sadly) were incredible, and so was the theatre itself. I promise I will go back one day.

Loved the chandeliers at La Scala

Loved the chandeliers at La Scala

La Scala - no words needed here

La Scala – no words needed here

We couldn’t believe how quickly time had gone. We were due to meet my lovely friend Clara for lunch at the nearby super fab Excelsior. Getting there is worthy of a blog post alone, so watch out for it.

Some people think Milan is grey and industrial, but I am a believer that it can be a fantastic city break even if you are not into shopping (that would be a totally different story). This little taster really made me want to go back, and spend some quality time in this city, which I hope to be able to do in 2013.

Ciao!

xo

Mrs. O

Disclaimer: Lynsey and I were guests of Walks of Italy and went on one of the many private walking tours offered by this operator. Views and photos are, of course, and as always, my own.

A weekend in Genova, Italy – more than focaccia and pesto

I think it would be fair to say that Genova isn’t on Italy’s Top10 cities to visit, mostly because people know very little about it. I was delighted to be invited to speak at a recent travel blogging conference and have the chance to revisit a city that has definitely grown on me, and spend a nice weekend in Genova. You may or may not know that delicacies like focaccia or pesto are originally from the Liguria region – I promise some yummy pictures later on!

View from the rooftop of the Grande Hotel Savoia, where I stayed and the lovely MSC Splendida, which happened to be in town

View from the rooftop of the Grande Hotel Savoia, where I stayed and the lovely MSC Splendida, which happened to be in town

I went to Genova earlier this year, when I was onboard MSC Splendida. Genoa is one of Italy’s busiest ports, and I did have a chance to see a bit of this city. I loved the old town, but felt that there was something missing. I decided to get lost around the myriad of streets by the port and in the city center, and have good things to report back. There was something about this place – it really grows on you after a while!

Via Garibaldi in Old Town Genova

Via Garibaldi in Old Town Genova

A nice surprise behind a little arch in the Old Town of Genova

A nice surprise behind a little arch in the Old Town of Genova

Genova City Centre

Genova City Centre

The first time I visited, I didn’t find any shops – so I definitely thought there was something missing. Of course this has been corrected on this recent trip, and I can confirm that the shopping district does not disappoint! The nicest part? The locals. They do make the city come to life and it is really nice to be somewhere that most people aren’t indeed tourists. Genova felt very real and comfortable.

Now let’s talk about food and drink. Prosecco, check. Lovely red wine, check. Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco and Soda, originally from Veneto), check. I must confess I had no idea that focaccia and pesto were originally from this part of Italy. It was lovely to find little focaccerias on every corner and very hard to resist trying them all. €1 buys you a slice not smaller than a slice of pizza and as I keep saying, life is all about the simple things.

Are you feeling hungry?

Cheese and tomato focaccia

Cheese and tomato focaccia

My absolute favourite focaccia - cheese, parma ham and rocket. This is foodie heaven

My absolute favourite focaccia – cheese, parma ham and rocket. This is foodie heaven

One other thing worth mentioning, is that Genova has its own Eataly. Not sure if everyone is acquainted with this project – basically, someone very clever came up with this concept, which showcases the best of Italian ingredients – you can buy them to take home, or you can eat them right there. I first came across Eataly (fab name) in New York, and after a bit of investigation, managed to find out that the concept is now being rolled out in key Italian and international cities. I have visited the first one, in Turin and now Genova. I could totally use this as an excuse to travel around the world. If you are curious and want to find out more about Eataly, just click here.

Eataly in Genoa - located by the Port, it also has amazing views

Eataly in Genoa – located by the Port, it also has amazing views

I had a great time in Genova and would certainly recommend a visit. You can now fly direct from some European cities, but I chose to use nearby Milan Malpensa airport. Why? Because I would spend a fab day in Milan! I promise to share our Milanese adventure very soon.

Ciao!

xo

Mrs. O

PS. I would like to thank Michele from Travel Blogger Elevator for inviting me to take part in this conference – it was my first speaking engagement and a lot of fun. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Savoia, which was lovely too. Grazie!

A perfect weekend in Rome by @browsingrome

I love Rome, but it isn’t a place I feel comfortable writing about. Why? I have only been twice – which means I need to go back for a perfect weekend in the Italian capital (hint to Mr. O). Diana and I bonded over our love for ballet flats – and we both know where to buy them. Love Rome? You will love this! Ciao, Mrs. O

I am grateful that Mrs O has invited me to guest post for her blog and I couldn’t be more excited to be writing on “A Perfect Weekend in Rome”.  There is just too much to see in Rome in a weekend and taking this into account, I have written this specifically for Mrs O, keeping in mind what she loves. Hopefully this post will give her a taste of what she can expect on her next visit and encourage her to expedite her travel plans to The Eternal City.

Impressive Colosseum!

Impressive Colosseum!

Friday night

An evening stroll along Via dei Fori Imperiali never fails to impress visitors and residents alike. Starting from the impressive Colosseum and making your way towards Piazza Venezia, you could only feel like you are walking through an open-air museum and what a museum it is with views  of the Roman Forum as well as Trajan’s Forum.

Walking through an open-air museum

Walking through an open-air museum

Before dinner, drop in at Enoteca Provincia Romana for an aperitivo. Situated in front of the Trajan Columns, enjoy a glass of Spritz or Prosecco while admiring the stunning view which is only with a glimpse of the incredible things to expect this weekend.

While it will be tempting to stay put and appreciate the wonderful settings, you wouldn’t want to miss a taste of one of the best carbonara in town at Roscioli (reservations recommended).  A pleasant 15-minute walk from Enoteca Provincia Romana, it will help you work up an appetite by the time you get there.  With an extensive menu, it’s a challenge to narrow it down to a few dishes and some dishes to try include the burrata, caponata and obviously, the carbonara.

The carbonara at Roscioli is one of the best in Rome

The carbonara at Roscioli is one of the best in Rome

There is always room for dessert and this is where you will be spoiled for choice! You could get a dessert at Roscioli or a gelato at Vice Gelateria, which is only a few minutes away on foot. Either way, you couldn’t go wrong and before calling it a night, walk to Piazza Navona, one of my favorite places in Rome that never fails to mesmerize visitors. This would be the perfect way to end you first evening in Rome.

Got to have a gelato!

Got to have a gelato!

Saturday

Get ready for a full day that is all about fun, food and all things fabulous! It will be an early start and although getting out of bed maybe a challenge, the thought of a real cappuccino or espresso may do the trick. While the food tour you’ll join that morning will take you to one of the most popular coffee places in town after lunch, get your morning fix at Tazza d’Oro. It is near the Pantheon and you can then decide which place you like best.

The smell of coffee here will awaken you and your senses

The smell of coffee here will awaken you and your senses

The food tour starts at Campo dei Fiori and if a cappuccino or espresso wasn’t sufficiently satisfying, make a quick run to Antico Forno Roscioli for a cornetto.  To clear up any confusion, this is the bakery while the dinner last night was at the restaurant. However, just be warned that there will be plenty of tastings on your food tour from the classic pizza bianca to salami and eventually to making your own pizza for lunch. Don’t believe me?  This post by our friend Kathryn who was on the tour last month gives you the full details!

One of the many tastings on the food tour!

One of the many tastings on the food tour!

To work off all the food, there’s no better way to do so than a few hours of shopping! Since Mrs O is already an expert on shopping in Rome but other areas worth exploring include Via Cola di Rienzo(Prati), Via Appia (San Giovanni) and Monti for artisanal items.

The Monti neighborhood is where you will also find some fabulous places to eat!  After an afternoon of shopping, take a breather at Al Vino al Vino and enjoy an aperitivo here.  Also, don’t forget to order their caponata which is considered one of the best in town!  Dinner this evening is at the nearby L’Asino d’Oro, a simple yet charming restaurant that offers creative local cuisine (reservations recommended).

Chocolate fountains at Come il Latte

Chocolate fountains at Come il Latte

While you may be filled after the meal, it just isn’t complete without dessert or gelato!  Though there is a good gelateria in Monti, it would be worth the effort to drop by Come il Latte (Address: Via Silvio Spaventa 24-26) where they have salted caramel gelato and faucets with dark and white chocolate flowing out!

Sunday

The modern décor in Eataly

The modern décor in Eataly

With the long day yesterday, it’s time to take it easier today. While it is far from an authentic Italian experience, Eataly is a different experience.  You could easily hang out here for the whole day and surely won’t go hungry as there are over 15 places to eat within this four-storey structure.  Stepping inside, its modern structure and décor could deceive you to thinking that you have been transported to any city but Rome. That said, it offers a huge variety of Italian products and a place to pick up a few gifts or two if you haven’t already done so.

 Told you that you won’t go hungry here!

Told you that you won’t go hungry here!

However, if you prefer an early start on Sunday, you could first visit the Borghese Gallery which boasts an impressive art collection. Tickets are very affordable at €9 but you’ll need to book in advance.  In addition, you can opt to take a two-hour guided tour in English that starts at 9.10am at an extra cost of €5 or alternatively, get an audio guide for the same price. Both options are highly recommended as you’d want to have some historical information on the pieces you are admiring and you will walk away from here astounded. It is an incredible place! (Note: Keep in mind is that you will be required to leave all your belongings including bags, cameras etc in the cloak room)

 The amazing art collection in the Borghese Gallery

The amazing art collection in the Borghese Gallery

While this jam-packed weekend covered a bit of history, art, shopping as well as lots of great food and wine, it barely scratches the surface of things to do in Rome. This is just a peek at what the city has to offer and hopefully entices you to be back again for more.

Diana

Diana and I recently met in Girona, Spain

Diana and I recently met in Girona, Spain

Diana at BrowsingRome.com enjoys sharing what she discovers while browsing Rome and Italy in general. She is a regular on Twitter @browsingrome and also offers a glimpse of life in Rome at http://www.facebook.com/browsingrome