“If we tip over, no one is going to be able to save you but you.” Brian’s blunt but empowering words, torn from his mouth by the wind buffeting our kayak-for-two, renewed my focus on the panic-inducing task at hand: trying not to drown, while also admiring the view. Seated in the front of the kayak, I stared head-on at the ominous black waves, feverishly wielding my paddle to properly position the kayak, while Brian wielded the camera.
As we walked through Rome, searching for the Trattoria Der Pallaro, anticipation began to build. After exiting the Campo de Fiori, a modest piazza by Rome standards whose hallmarks are a daytime market and a statue of an excommunicated Dominican monk burnt at the stake centuries ago in that very spot, we took a wrong turn. The often warren-like streets can be challenging even with a GPS for guidance.
But if we had to search every side street in the area and spend hours doing it, we weren’t giving up the quest. This wasn’t just any restaurant we sought. This was a restaurant I had waited to return to for fourteen years. After all this time, I vividly recalled arriving at the trattoria, a haven on a chilly, rainy March night. We sat in a cozy, wood-paneled dining room with friends, one of whom had come across the listing for Trattoria Der Pallaro in a Frommer’s guidebook as the “Best Value” eats option in Rome (it’s still their pick). The wine began to flow and, with barely a word exchanged between diners and servers, platters of food began arriving at the table.
“Buona sera. Come in, sit down.”
We live in a golden age for travel. Never has the world been so accessible to so many. Growing middle classes in previously impoverished nations are taking to the road at the same time discount airfares, packaged tours, and generally improving travel infrastructure everywhere are making destinations more accessible to everyone. It’s a trend that’s proven so successful that it can’t possibly continue.
After two nights in the walled medieval stronghold of Monemvasia, we walked along its roughhewn stone streets for the last time and exited the tiny town through the sole entryway: an opening just wide enough for a loaded donkey to fit through. After reclaiming our rental car, which went unused during our stay in pedestrian-only Monemvasia, we continued on our way through the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
Known to many as the Gibraltar of the East, the tiny Greek island fortress city of Monemvasia felt to us more like the Mont Saint Michel of the Mediterranean. Both are walled, medieval strongholds, surrounded by water on all sides, and tethered to the mainland only by a single slim causeway. And while its rough-hewn cobbles and Byzantine influences set Monemvasia apart from Mont Saint Michel’s well-laid stone and grand Gothic design, walking the streets of one felt reminiscent of the other.
With that in mind we thought we’d do something a little different and invite our readers along on a short walking tour of Monemvasia’s twisting alleys.