“La Passeggiata” is everything I love about Italy. As the sun sets, the Italian tradition of passeggiata begins. Marking the end of the workday, families and friends slowly stroll together through the “centro storico” historic center. It is a time to slow down, share conversation, catch up with neighbors, enjoy a gelato. It is a reminder of what we should all value in life, the ones we love and the community we share. “La Passeggiata” is to walk, to share, TO LIVE.
Meet Shauna Gardner
Ciao! My name is Shauna and although I live in Chicago, a piece of my heart lives in Italy. For anyone who has been fortunate enough to ride a vespa through Rome, walk the gritty Mercato di Ballaro of Palermo, hike the Sentiero degli Dei “Path of the Gods”, eat a gelato in Piazza Navona or see the gardens of Villa Balbianello, you know what I mean when I say that. It is a place that my heart longs for and a piece of the world I will always return to. After the last few years of planning trips to different regions of Italy, I want to share all I have learned in the hopes that others can benefit from the amazing memories we (my husband and I) have created together. Which leads me to…
Italy not only holds a special place in my heart but also in our hearts. Rome is where I met my husband, Chad, and we continue to return to Italy every chance we can. We are also lucky to share what you would call a modern fairytale romance…
It all began 13 years ago when I was studying abroad in Rome. When I wasn’t “studying” or getting my daily gelato fix, my second home was a bar called La Botticella near Piazza Navona. Chad’s best friend, Joe, was also studying abroad and spent time at La Botticella. Eventually, Chad came to visit Joe for Thanksgiving break and as typical college kids do, we drank way too much wine and stayed out way too late…BUT also as typical college kids do, Chad and I shared one of those great public make-outs at the bar in front of all of our friends. The obvious question is, “So, what happened next?” Well, unfortunately, nothing. A drunken night out in Rome was the end of it (for the time being).
Fast forward to 2013, we crossed paths at a party in Chicago but despite trying to make plans, our timing was still not quite right. Three years went by and sure enough, it was not until the summer of 2016 that our stars officially aligned. We matched on a dating app (Bumble) which led to our first official date. Over some Italian cheese (of course!) and canned wine in Millennium Park, we knew something was different. It was as if we had waited eleven years to be in the right place at the right time in our lives to finally get together. Another bottle of wine later and a good night kiss, we were smitten. Within just two weeks of dating, Chad booked a ticket to join me on a trip to Sicily (which only solidified how we felt) and just seven short months later, we returned to Rome together, back to where it all started and Chad got down on one knee on a rooftop near Piazza Navona. Married now, Chicago may be where we live, but there is a part us that will forever be drawn to Italy. The culture, history, food…and the Italian “passeggiata”.
Allora, ma ora basta parlare di me, “enough about me.” I hope you enjoy reading “La Passeggiata” as much as I have enjoyed creating and sharing it.