I intentionally ended yesterday’s blog post with an ellipsis because I knew I had so much to say about Rome and didn’t want anyone’s eyes popping out of his/her head while I was yammering on and on and on…

Truth be told, I left for this trip longing for inspiration. It’s not that I’m having a full-fledged case of writer’s block or anything horrible like that. It’s just when you write what I call “stylish copy on a deadline” for a living, well, you need a fresh jolt of creativity from time to time. And when you’re writing your new novel, that spark is especially important—even if you’re really excited about the story you’re telling.

So needless to say, when I got to Rome, I absolutely fell in love. As our cab driver drove us from the train station to our hotel (for the record, I’d never, ever drive here, there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to the zig-zagging cobblestone roads—just one of Rome’s many charms), I quickly realized that I’d never been anywhere quite like it. Or even close.

After checking in to our lovely hotel, Will and I were starving something fierce. As absolutely luscious as café cremas are, they’re still not a full breakfast, so we knew some lunch was in order—pronto. Lucky for us, right across the street (yes, a mere 30 seconds away) was the most incredible little pizza shop.

Considering the place only had two tables inside and a small counter that a couple more people could comfortably eat over outside, if it hadn’t been for our hunger, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed it. But I’m a firm believer that growling bellies give you even better eyesight, so it was destino that we discovered it.

I’ve never been that big of a fan of woodfire pizzas (in my experience, the crust is either too charred or downright soggy), but they officially won me over. The crust was perfectly crisp and buttery and simply adorned with the freshest, most flavorful toppings including smoked fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, caramelized onions, basil and the sweetest plum tomatoes.

It was so good, in fact, that Will and I went back for thirds (they sold them in large squares) and successfully tried every variety they had. Mmmm. Then with bellies full of deliciousness, we drug our sleep-deprived selves back to our hotel for some much-needed R&R.

After grabbing a few zzzs, we eventually ventured out to the Spanish steps, a 40-minute walk from our hotel, and I was immediately wowed by the city’s intricate architecture and all those sidewalks cafés that were practically tailor-made for people-watching.

While I could go on and on just about the food alone (trust me, we didn’t have a bad meal the entire time) and satisfying our daily “need” for gelato (stracciatella was our favorite, hands down), what inspired me most about Rome was the Italians’ zest for living.

Whether it was the front desk clerk at our hotel who enthusiastically mapped out the places we absolutely, positively must visit while we were in town, the barista who made our café cremas or the couple enjoying a post-work glass of wine together, they seemed genuinely joyful about life. And something that’s particularly rare in our Smartphone culture, I didn’t see a single soul staring at their phone or updating their Facebook status either. Instead, they enjoyed life’s simple pleasures—conversation (gestures are a must) and a great glass of vino.

Unlike, say, NYC or even London, the pace of life (save for driving) is so much slower, too. Especially since we were on vacation, that’s something Will and I had no trouble getting used to as we admired the breathtakingly beautiful art in the Vatican, strolled through the Colosseum (so much cooler than I imagined, particularly since I’m not much of a history buff) and bravely plunged in our hands into Bocca della Verita (yes, all our digits are still intact).

My only complaint is that we didn’t have more time there. In fact, I can still picture our sad faces as we sat on the rooftop terrace of our hotel, sipping coffee and eating pastries before heading to the airport. But even without throwing a coin into the famed Trevi Fountain, one thing’s for sure: I know that we’ll be returning to Rome one day soon. And just like I suspected it might, going to Rome has only made me more excited to see the rest of Italy, too.

So here’s toasting to Italia and newfound inspiration for my writing now that I’m back home! Salute!