The Sibyls, Santa Maria della Pace, Rome

round portico of a stone church Santa Maria dell Pace Rome

Tucked between the Piazza Navona and via dei Coronari, in my favorite area of Rome, sit Santa Maria della Pace and the Chiostro del Bramante. After visiting these two gems, my slow travel itinerary would include meandering through the lanes, visiting antique shops on via dei Coronari, and enjoying lunch at an outdoor table while admiring Renaissance and Baroque architecture and watching locals go about their day. Italy is full of surprises and below is one of my most treasured memories of Rome. My father was a poet and...

45 rue des Archives

red door in stone facade Parisfa

Unbeknownst to me, I was following in the footsteps of Eugene Atget yet again when this lovely red door at 45 rue des Archives caught my eye. I love the deep yet vibrant red lacquered door contrasted with the weathered stone archway and worn cobblestones. Where does this door lead? Who has walked by and through it over the years? I decided to learn more and discovered a rich and varied history that led me to current events in Paris. In the 13th century, the area now known as the...

A Day Trip to Arles

cobblestone street pastel houses and shutters Arles

As the train pulled into the station at Arles on a mild November morning, I found myself entirely unprepared. I’d set off for a day trip to Arles from Montpellier on a whim, intending to go where the wind blew me, finding joy in discovering things for myself, a true flâneur. Usually I do more planning, but it had been an extremely difficult few months, and I was exhausted. I knew Van Gogh had lived in Arles for a time, had painted prolifically, cut off his ear, and was...

Aligning Expectations

fountain Ferris wheel Louvre museum cloudy sky

I’ve discovered that, for me, the key to planning enjoyable and meaningful travel experiences is beginning with realistic expectations. There are many reasons to travel, styles and personalities of travelers, experiences each person wishes to have, and perhaps different physical needs. Acknowledging these factors and aligning my expectations allows me greater focus when planning an itinerary. I’ve learned to tailor the experience based upon who will be on the trip, our various needs, capabilities, and desires. Aligning expectations enables me to appreciate each experience for what it is meant...

A Winter Day in Rome

Castel Sant'Angelo Rome river bridge angels ancient Roman building sunset

One night, I dreamed that I was alone in the darkened streets of Rome. Rounding a corner, there was the Pantheon, lit up in the night, its enormity and beauty breathtaking. Stunned, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see it if only in a dream. What was I doing there? Why was I alone? It would be ten years before I knew. In December 1999, I traveled with artwork lent to an exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante, my first trip to Europe alone. After a two-day...

The Marais: An unexpected meeting

Rue de Sevigne ©ruedevarenne.com

Many travelers love getting to know people wherever they go. However, when traveling alone I tend to keep to myself for safety’s sake. I have, however, been blessed to meet some incredible people, particularly colleagues, but also a small handful strangers. I once had an unusual experience in the Place des Vosges, in the Marais district of Paris, that reminded me not to close myself off altogether. In 2005, I was in Paris working on an exhibition of photographs at the Mémorial de la Shoah. Located in the Marais,...

Chocolatería San Ginés

Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid © 2018 ruedevarenne.com

Tucked in a pedestrian passage off of the Puerta del Sol and attached to Iglesia San Ginés, the Chocolatería San Ginés has served chocolate con churros since 1894. This interpretation may not be what many are used to, but the combination is divine. The hot chocolate is similar to a rich, dark pudding; rather than a beverage, it’s used as a dipping sauce for the long pieces of golden fried dough. The churros, an unembellished close relative of Mexican churros, are crisp on the outside and doughy on the...

Through the window of Rodin’s garden

Musée Rodin Paris through window onto garden

It’s been raining here for several days, an unusual occurrence in the desert. Last night, my husband and I spoke of that November in Paris, how lovely it was in the rain, how we missed it. I woke up thinking of this view from the top floor window of the Musée Rodin, one I often return to in my mind’s eye, appreciating the beauty of each season I’ve been lucky to see, from the lushness of spring to the sparseness of winter. Although I love the art in the...

Welcome to RUE DE VARENNE

wooden doors surrounded by stone arch

One Saturday in September, after a delicious brunch at JUDY cantine qualitarienne in the sixth arrondissement of Paris, my husband and I set off on our customary pilgrimage to the Musée Rodin in the seventh. The sky a deep blue punctuated by large white clouds with traces of gray, we hoped the weather would hold long enough for us to explore the museum’s garden, a favorite spot of ours. It was the first time we’d walked the entire length of rue de Varenne. Along the way we stopped often, pointing...

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