The Food Police and a Cross Pollinating Beehive

1 Jul

I was just telling a friend of mine the other day, actually my former aupair-turned-Rome-expat-herself, that one of the things I love most about living here in Rome is that pretty much every single one of the expat friends I’ve met here has a really amazing and interesting story to tell. It’s one of the fringe benefits of living in a country that’s not your own: you tend to meet other adventurous people who are living in a country that’s not their own, and each and every one of them generally has a story that’s worth writing if not an entire book, at least a little short story about.

Well. One couple of friends could easily fill multiple volumes of expat lore and literature, part of what I consider my Old Guard of Roman expats. These are people who came here just a bit before me, and who I’ve been able to see grow and thrive through the years.

Steve and Linda of The Beehive were “known to me” before I actually knew them personally. That’s how it tends to go around here. The English-speaking expat community is a rather small world and we’re all just a degree or two of separation, often having heard of someone before even meeting them in person. And so it goes in my relationship with the Brenner-Martinez clan.

Back in, oh, probably 2003 or so, a friend of mine whom I had met through the school where I was teaching ESL, lent me a paperback written by a woman who had spent time living in Rome. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the book, the author, or anything, as these books do tend to pop up like mushrooms, and this was before the big blog explosion (many of us Rome bloggers had our start circa 2005-2006 when blogs were just becoming a bit more prevalent). But one thing I do remember is that whoever-she-was specifically mentioned she had worked for Steve and Linda. The Beehive was just under the surface of my consciousness, as it seemed like a sort of destination/checkpoint for expat travelers and people who wanted something richer than a standard cookie-cutter experience in Rome.

{Post-script: Linda helpfully clued me in to the book I was talking about. Penelope Green, “When in Rome.” Brilliant. Why didn’t Julia Roberts play her in a movie? I don’t know. She wrote two more books about Italy-go here.}

{Whoa. Double post-script. I did a Google search for the When in Rome book and, lo and behold, holy crapoly man, I actually WROTE AN ENTIRE POST ABOUT IT back in 2007. That was when my blog used to be called At Home in Rome, when I was renting out the tourist apartments I mention in the paragraph to follow. Jesus, people. Even the story I told you about how I got the book was wrong. That must have been another book another expat lent me. This one I actually got on my HONEYMOON at the Sydney airport. *shakes head in mock disbelief* Senility sets in at age 36. This is what happens when you try to raise three preschoolers as a single working mom while holding down a blog and moonlighting as a tarot consultant. For the love of God.}

A few years later, I started my own tourist lodging business in Trastevere (I left that business in 2008 when I started a family) and got to know Steve and Linda as local colleagues, but never in person and was just sort of aware of them and of their by-now almost legendary B&B that was pretty much booked solid all the time. I’d always recommend them to my guests if I was booked (I only rented two apartments and my premise around travel was based on the “Slow Travel” movement, so we generally had guests with similar travel “tastes”).

Come full circle to 2011 when I finished my three year odyssey of living back in the States, and serendipity had it that Steve and Linda were just moving back to Italy after having had a sabbatical as well. Linda and I became fast friends through mutual acquaintances, finally met in person, now each of us with three children a piece, and I am happy to say that our friendship has grown over the last couple of years.

Steve and Linda are full of creative ideas, projects, community spirit, and have filled a void in this city by offering wonderfully eco-conscious and stylish accommodations that are still within reach price-wise in this exorbitantly expensive city, as well as providing a dietary-sensitive alternative for travelers, with a cafe’ and vegan buffet three times a week open to guests and non-guests alike.

Gush, gush, I love them, can you tell?

But the whole point of this post wasn’t actually to be an advertorial, if you can believe it. The point was actually just to share something super fun with you. Steve and Linda have three vibrant young daughters who are the stars of a homegrown video series called “The Food Police,” and I love it.

You have to see their lastest episode with Rick Steves. And then go “like” their FB page for Cross Pollinate, their website with hand-picked and inspected cool places to stay across Europe.

Who knows where their adventures will take them next?

The Food Police – The Rick Steves Episode from Cross-Pollinate Travel on Vimeo.

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3 Responses to “The Food Police and a Cross Pollinating Beehive”

  1. Marc July 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    You are doing a great job Shel here, really.
    Keep going!
    If you come to Mantova for a visit ring the bell and i will be happy to know you!

  2. Catherine July 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Loved this! What cool kids. Going to look up The Beehive now. Thanks Xcat

  3. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) July 2, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Linda and Steve make me believe in parenting. They’d never end up on the pages of STFU, Parents, excpet maybe for a gold star.

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