Dear Rome, A Love Letter

If you've been following me on Instagram, you know that I recently made a bold declaration to the universe.

I want to travel the world and write love letters, poems and short stories about the places that captivate my heart.

You see, I fall in love with places. Maybe you do too.

Welcome to my first exploration of this new series. Who knows what will it will turn out to be... a blog series, a new website all together, a community-based hashtag (I've already started #ifallinlovewithplaces on Instagram... feel free to add your own stories and photos to the fun), a book, or maybe just a momentary exercise in gratitude and sentimentality. Let the fun begin!

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Dear Rome,

We met in what seems like a whirlwind of a sweltering, simmering mid-June. Upon landing in your arms, in the cab from Fiumicino Airport, I found myself in a swirl of misty-eyed dreamscapes. There I was. It was all steam. It was all a blurry, smeary dream. 

Between wood-fired pizzas made by bantering men in overheated kitchens, to the most delicious pasta handmade by nonnas, passing by old gentlemen, hands held behind their backs, deep in conversation, stomachs out, heads down towards the cobblestoned streets... I found myself enamored by your age, your brash, bold people, your creamsicle hued colors. But it wasn't until I saw the Vatican for my very own eyes that first night, illuminating the dusty, twilight sky like a candle in a dark room, arms outstretched like a welcoming, when I realized how ancient and how deeply rooted, truly connected I was to you.

I imagined being my grandfather in youth that evening walk home. I daydreamed that I walked into quiet nunneries and chapels with bold confidence and revere, a typical Sunday evening. I imagined myself going to the same market vendors, hearing my Nonno bargaining with the local fisherman, learning from the best so that one day I could do the same. I concocted notions that I lived in a small, third floor apartment with the laundry line taut, fresh basil picked from the roof deck.

Some still, quiet minutes of pure, pure imagination.

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I've learned your street names (Vicolo Del Cinque, you gem of an alleyway). I've memorized how to walk in heels through the tumultuous hills of uneven cobblestone. I've learned a few phrases. I've even been mistaken for one of your own. I've returned again to relive the splendor of your foods, your smells, your ancient history, your liveliness. And yet, I haven't expressed my gratitude for showing me so much more than Roman art or philosophy or history. Our time together, albeit short (and hot, so hot), has opened a curiosity for life within me. A longing to find myself in far off places. A desire to feel that buzzy, cooing thrill of seeing your streets for the first time once again. 

My dear Rome, I love you. Send my regards to Osteria Der Belli and that tiny apartment on the second floor off of the Ponte Sisto. I will return soon.

Yours,

Laura

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Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own!

If I could guess what an average bucket list entailed, here's what I'd imagine seeing... bungee jump/sky dive, see all of the world wonders, honeymoon in France. You get to the idea! Am I far off from your own?

Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

I love the idea of bucket lists. It's the ultimate "dream big" activity... one that requires us to ask ourselves the big questions in life. What is it that I want to accomplish while I'm on this earth? How am I going to make this happen? So that being said, whatever you want to call a bucket list, whether is a life "to-do" list or a grocery list of #goals, it's safe to say that most of the items on our are very much far away from reality. Not to mention, sometimes bucket list items that remain incomplete can be a source of self doubt and apathy... I know I'm guilty of feeling this way, especially when the new year is right around the corner!

That's why when Famous Footwear approached me about their Step Forward campaign this winter, I knew it was time to shift my perspective about my bucket list and take a breathe. Between all the holiday hullabaloo, shopping for loved ones and running to family get togethers, there's no need to add an internal pressure of getting bucket list items completed! I'm taking a necessary break from the holiday chaos (and nagging internal woes to do and see it all)... and instead, I'm focusing on small, manageable local bucket list items to explore this season.

Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

With many guests coming into town during the holidays, I realized that there were a considerable amount of Lancaster-based eateries, sights and experiences we had yet to accomplish this year. And that's where it hit me... we needed to make a local bucket list. One that's filled with the fun, fresh things I've been meaning to do since moving into my favorite little city of Lancaster! One that's filled with fun little activities to do to re-inspire myself, to recuperate from the holiday craziness, while also exploring my own neck of the woods.

The bucket list mentality that all fruitful pursuits have to happen far, far away in a distant country is just a silly outlook, isn't it? Creating a local bucket list can help us finally get to those bookshops, coffee stops and stores we've been meaning to visit, but just couldn't squeeze into our routines. It stops us from making those lame excuses as to why we just haven't had the time to visit amazing, unique places in our neighborhoods. It keeps us motivated and allows us to see our day to day surroundings with fresh eyes. It can help remind us to be thankful for the community around us. Who's with me?

Here are some tips for creating and conquering your own local bucket list!

Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY
Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY
Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

Think Like A Hostess

Having guests stay over in your city is a great exercise in rounding up the absolute best of our surrounding areas. So, hypothetically, if you had some friends stop by for a weekend... what would you recommend them seeing, tasting and experiencing? Make a list of those things and see if you've done them all yourself.

You could even make and print a nice local travel guide for friends from out of town to peruse through... and test your own ability to list cool and special spots you love along the way. You'll find that the places that have been highly recommended to you, but you haven't quite visited yet firsthand stick out like a sore thumb! Time to add those places to your local bucket list and get to adventuring! 

Group Places & Things Into Themes

Am I the only person who loves an organized and creative themed day? If you haven't already read our Feast Of Saint Pizza posts (literally a day dedicated to discovering the best pizza of large and small cities) or our Finding Little Paris post (similarly about finding nods of France in your own neighborhood)... see what I mean!

So pick a theme, any theme! Make a bucket list item a morning hopping in and out of the thrift stores you haven't seen yet, or exploring the nearby college by walking the grounds and spending an afternoon watching an athletic event. The possibilities are endless here! See what common ground your local bucket list items have in common and make it a fun day for yourself... and thank me later. 

What Haven't You Seen Or Done Yet?

This is where the wonderful world of TripAdvisor, Foursquare and other review websites come in handy! Check to see what the top ten recommended activities for your neck of the woods. Have you done them all? Now check out all the restaurant recommendations. Have you tasted the best recommended dishes visitors have praised? If anything, and I truly mean anything, hasn't been see or done yet... do it! Book that reservation and make it an experience you'll never forget!

Now's the time to embrace those weird, quirky colloquialisms you might have gotten too accustomed to! For example, my community of Lancaster is heavily influenced by the Amish culture that surrounds the city. A great (albeit oddball) experience might me to go see an Amish farm or visit a nearby farm stand. What's strange or unique about your neck of the woods? 

Conquering My Local Bucket-List & What's On My Own! | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

As for what's on my own local bucket list, here's what I'm aiming to accomplish this season:

  • See a show at The Fulton 
  • Plan a picnic in Musser Park with friends once the weather warms up a bit!
  • Roast some Passenger Coffee beans at home
  • Have a good ol' fashioned Penny's ice cream cone in their new shop. Don't judge, I am absolutely the type of girl who still craves ice cream in the middle of winter!
  • See a movie at our very own independent movie theatre a few blocks away, Zoetropolis
  • Go to a gallery show of an artist I haven't met yet
  • Shop locally for Christmas this year. Buy at least two to three little trinkets from Lancaster natives and family owned shops in the city!
  • Make a trip to an Amish auction
  • Find the best dang whoopee pie in Lancaster! Anybody have a personal recommendations?
  • Discover some new street art in the city... I've heard the new graffiti behind Mulberry has changed?!
  • Pick a favorite historic home to get dreamy-eyed about around Chestnut Hill

So, guys, what do you think? Isn't creating a local bucket-list a great way to take a moment to ourselves and recuperate this holiday season? Thanks so much for Famous Footwear for sponsoring this post and for the gorgeous shoes that made adventuring around Lancaster a breeze! Their Step Forward campaign and mission to take a moment to ourselves this holiday season is something I believe in wholeheartedly!

Thank you to Famous Footwear for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.


Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors

Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors

For anyone wondering, I love Lancaster, Pennsylvania! If my incessant Instagrams of our lovely little city isn't enough to make my point clear, here goes... I feel so proud of our hard working entrepreneurial spirit, our gorgeous old homes, our excitement for small businesses and family owned restaurants. Lancaster is honestly one of my favorite places in the world, and I feel so proud to call it my home. 

Having your good old standby hole-in-the-wall restaurants, book stores and quirky gift shops recommendations is one amazing perk of being a local. Being able to welcome strangers or dear friends from out of town with a great list of things to do or see is one of my favorite things to do. I find myself listing off my favorite spots to friends (and strangers alike!) who are in for the weekend, or even an afternoon or two. I'm always so excited to list off the best places for coffee or a scoop of ice cream, but it certainly does get repetitive! Hence, why having a handy city guide to hand to guests or to leave by the bedside for friends staying in town is a great way to welcome them into your beloved home city.

Here are some tips for creating your own city guide!

Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors

MAKE A MASTER LIST

From your go-to pizza place, to your favorite hole in the wall bookstores... list everything out. No need for organization. The first step is always to make a master list of your absolute favorites. You are the guru, so go crazy! Favorite historic monuments, pizza shops, bookstores, thrift shops, pretty blocks you love to walk down, your favorite houses or architectural buildings, your favorite ice cream shops, sweets, multicultural restaurants... just start that list, baby!

TIP: One thing I did that helped a lot was keeping a master list on my notes on my phone. Every now and then, when inspiration would strike or I left an absolutely fabulous meal, I would add another favorite or discovery to add to my city guide later on. 

SECTION IT BY UNIQUE CATEGORIES

Think like a stranger in your city. What are some unique experiences they should have while they explore? Some ideas might be:

  • THE SWEET TOOTH - a list all your favorite ice cream shops, sweet shops, coffee spots and more
  • THRIFTY FINDS - a list of thrift shops, oddity stores and unique gift shops
  • AN INSTAGRAMMER'S GUIDE- a list your most "instagrammable" spots
  • THE BOOKWORM - a list of bookstores, libraries and cafes perfect for writing/reading
  • SHOP SMALL - a list of family owned shops, restaurants and more
  • WANNA WORKOUT - a list of gyms, great places to run, hiking trails and more

CHOOSE A SMALLER SIZE

One haphazardly genius idea I made while creating my city guide was to print it in a small, handheld size. (I printed mine when Artifact Uprising was having a great sale!)

Printing your guide in a smaller size allows your guests to pop it into their bag or purse while they explore your city. I mean seriously, how many times have you found yourself out on the town wondering "wait, what was that restaurant she said had great drinks?"... I know I'm not the only forgetful one. Having a transportable city guide to sift through while out and about is a serious lifesaver. So, print small and see how happy your guests will be later!

Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors

MAKE A LOOSE SCHEDULE FOR GUESTS

Another great idea is to create some schedules for your guests to loosely follow. Don't feel like you're imposing... guests love to be given a highlight reel of their destination! Some ideas could be:

  • A QUIET MORNING - a schedule of slow, peaceful morning activities like your favorite coffeeshop, a visit to your library, a walk around your favorite couple of blocks
  • A BUSTLING BRUNCH - a more high paced schedule of your favorite brunch options, a couple of shops to stop by and maybe even a great rooftop bar to wash it all down
  • PIZZA CRAWL - one of my favorite schedules, a pizza extravaganza filled with your favorite pizza joints (you could also change this to whatever treat/meal your city does best!)
  • AN AFTERNOON WINDOW SHOPPING - a schedule of shopping spots that are not to be missed, from kitchen knick knacks to shoes to women's clothing and more
  • EXPLORING ______ NEIGHBORHOOD - choose your favorite neighborhood (or even a couple blocks of your town) and make a loose schedule of must-do's in the area
  • A HISTORICAL AFTERNOON - a schedule of your town's most historical finds

BE CHOOSEY WITH YOUR IMAGES

When deciding which photos to include in your city guide... be picky! Because you'll be filling your pages with lots of written content, be sure to take the time to capture photos that truly emulate the mood/feel of your town. Whether it's a picture of you exploring and kicking up crunchy, fallen leaves, or a still shot of your bustling city square... ask yourself, how does this show the absolute best of my city? 

Collage your favorite images, choose the best images to print on a full, empty page and have fun with it!

SHOW THE LOVE

What you love most about your city? It's a hard question, but it brings the best answers. Write down a paragraph or two explaining your love for your town. By including a simple closing thought or two about your city, your guests will be feeling the love and totally inspired to discover the best of what's around!

Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors
Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors
Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors

More than anything, making a city guide is a great exercise in appreciation. After making my city guide for Lancaster, I found myself feeling even more grateful to live in such an amazing place. And I'm positive you'll feel the same after making your own as well!

HAPPY CREATING! Can't wait to see what you guys make!
Lancaster folks, I have ONE copy of my city guide to Lancaster available in the shop

Tips For Creating Your Own City Guide For Visitors