A Day in the Life of a Digital Nomad, Rome Edition

Feb 09, 2017    /    digital nomads + full-time travel, stories & photos

Every so often, I document a day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about a a weekend (read: non-working) day from our four-month stint in Vancouver, Canada. Today, I’ve documented a regular workday in Rome, where we’ll spend the rest of winter based in the charming, cobbled center of the Trastevere neighborhood. We’ve come to Rome for sunshine (though so far it’s been cold) and, more importantly, for food. And so this day in the life centers on that theme.

So, what does an average day look like now? The answer…

7 / I wake, as usual, as the light starts to change in the apartment. It’s been four or five years since I stopped using an alarm clock and started letting my body sync up with its own rhythms, which usually mean early mornings (especially in the summer) and early bedtimes. These days, I only use alarm clocks when we have an early flight, train, or taxi to catch. Since we don’t have any of those things this morning, it’s a slow, natural wake-up process.

I do all the usual morning things: shower, walk the dog, feed her a breakfast of carrots, tuna, and rice, etc.

7:40 / I settle down at the dark wood table for a breakfast of fresh-squeezed orange juice (the grocery store has a squeeze machine, god bless them), tea with milk and honey, pain au chocolat from our beloved local bakery (a place we found because Georgette recommended it), and half a banana.

workspace in Rome
My current workspace.

8:10 / Now, it’s down to business. I settle myself onto one of our large sectional couches with a pile of notebooks to my right and a laptop in my lap to work. Today’s to-do list includes writing survey questions for a client, sending in an article about what to see, do, and eat in Taormina, Sicily, and emailing ad agencies that specialize in travel marketing to see if they need a writer and content strategist, since I’m looking for a few new clients in 2017.

Luna snuggles up against me to my left and with the rest of my milky tea on hand, I get down to it.

9:15 / I brew my second cup of tea, stretch my legs, and then settle back in.

10:40 / I take another short break from work to stand, stretch, and curl my hair. Luna has a bone and is prancing around the living room with it, wagging her tail like mad.

lunch in Rome
Lunch in Rome

11:40 / Our lunch is a simple but delicious one: bread from our local bakery, culatello, prosciutto, salami, a local cheese made from a mix of goat and cow milk, crackers, and a few pieces of dark chocolate. We both sit at the table, breaking from work, and Chad tells me about the progress he’s making with his tech venture.

12:10 / Back to it! I spend most of the rest of my workday emailing ad agencies, but also manage, in between, to update my social profiles with new photos and descriptions tweaked to intrigue those potential new clients.

1:45 / That’s a wrap! My workdays usually start early and reach into the early or mid-afternoon. I’ve knocked out all three of my to-dos and I’m feeling good about my new-client-getting efforts, so I stop, jot down some notes, and then turn to my sticky notes to make tomorrow’s to-do list before truly signing off for the day.

2:25 / I spend the afternoon getting ready to go out and watching most of the first episode of the second season of Man in the High Castle. I make Luna an early dinner of rice, carrots, tuna, and ground beef since we have to be out the door by 4:30.

4:30 / We’re out the door and on our way to our Roman Food Tour in the Prati neighborhood, just past vatican city. The owners of the tour reached out to me last year and offered me a complimentary tour, so now that I’m in Rome, I’m taking them up on it.

The bus takes half an hour and walking only takes about 45 minutes, so we decide to walk, passing the vatican on the way.

Vaticano
Vatican

5:30 / At 5:10 or so, we arrive at the metro station and meet our tour guide, a bubbly foodie named Jess who has spent her life half in Italy and half in the states. By 5:30, the rest of our group has arrived: an American mother son duo on a short European adventure that includes Paris and Rome, a British couple celebrating a 60th birthday, a Romanian woman who now lives in Rome, and us.

We all make our way to a tiny, inviting, bright shop where a long table is set with wine glasses and boards of cheeses and spreads. We sip white wine from the volcanic Campania region while learning about and tasting buffalo mozzarella, 30-year-aged balsamic vinegar, parmagiano reggiano, Genovese pesto, asiago cheese, pecorino al tartufo, and the best black truffle spread I’ve ever had in my life—all authentic and DOP (a certification that attests to their quality and authenticity). We’ll return here later in the week to pick up some mozzarella and truffle spread of our own.

meat and cheeses
The meat and cheese spread at our second stop.

6:15 / We stop into a meat and cheese shop the smells like heaven must, then slip around the corner and into a charming restaurant with a large dark-wood table set for us with meat and cheese boards interspersed with spreads made primarily from prunes, figs, and grapes. We try two Italian prosciuttos and a famous Spanish one for comparison, as well as a special salumi made in-house at the restaurant itself. Then it’s onto cheeses: goat, sheep, and cow-made, tasted from light to sharp.

pizza
Famous Roman pizza by the slice

7 / I’ve lost track of time, but perhaps it’s 7 p.m. by the time we slip happily into our third stop, a famous Roman pizzeria that serves by the slice. We start with suppli—Roman rice balls stuffed with tomato sauce—and move onto pizza. Our guide explains the history of tomatoes in Europe, which is an interesting one. When they first got to Europe, tomatoes were considered poisonous and were used as decoration, not food.

Why? Firstly, because they’re in the nightshade family and their vines are poisonous (though obviously the fruits themselves are not). Secondly, because the Vatican thought they were too passionately red and too much of an aphrodisiac, so they denounced them. And thirdly, and most compellingly, because Romans at the time were eating off plates with significant lead content; the acid in the tomatoes brought out the lead in the plates and people who ate them died of lead poisoning, which was attributed to the tomatoes themselves.

8:15 / A brisk 15-minute walk brings us to the last savory stop on our journey: a spacious restaurant with a short cheerful proprietor couple. We try soft, supple calamari, spinach-nutmeg-parmagiano ravioli, and well-made fluffy, light gnocci, and then a bottle of Prosecco shows up for the birthday boy and we all have a glass to finish off the meal.

9:15 / Our last stop is a gelateria with authentic gelato, where we each select two flavors. I fall in love with the crunch of the chocolate pear and make a mental note to come back for more. While everyone finishes off their ice cream cones, we say our goodbyes, and Chad and I slip out the door for a walk back to Trastevere, past Vatican city and along the river.

10:06 / We step back into the house, cold and sleepy and contentedly full. I take Luna out and we both fall asleep within the hour.


What does a day in your life look like?


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9 Comments
  • Lori
    February 9, 2017

    Wow. Just wow. I would venture to say that’s a magnificent day!

    • gigigriffis
      February 9, 2017

      For sure. :)

  • Greg Winker
    February 9, 2017

    So glad to see you made it to Pizza Bonci. Just looking at the pictures brings back some terrific memories.

    • gigigriffis
      February 9, 2017

      Yeah! Tasty stuff.

  • Valeria
    February 9, 2017

    mmm…. and what is the name of the restaurant with that heavenly sounding ravioli?

    • gigigriffis
      February 11, 2017

      Al Giardino del Gatto e la Volpe!

  • Ali
    February 13, 2017

    I love that you’re able to call it a day so early in the afternoon…but then, you do get up and get to work way earlier than I do! I am NOT a morning person. The food tour sounds fantastic, and the photos look delicious. Rome is a city I could go back to time and time again, especially for the gelato!
    Ali recently posted…How Much Money I Make Online: Income Report January 2017My Profile

    • gigigriffis
      February 13, 2017

      Yes, it definitely helps to get up early. I actually feel like here I get up so late because our apartment is super dark. I fully expect my wake up times in Croatia to be several hours earlier.

  • Annie Anderson
    February 26, 2017

    Your diary is real. It makes me want to experience Rome so bad. I’m glad somebody out there is actually enjoying life with a slow pace. Btw you took fancy pictures xo
    Annie Anderson recently posted…How to Feed Your Cat a Healthy and Balanced DietMy Profile

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