In the Footsteps of Eat Pray Love: Writers on Italy, India, Indonesia

A cooking demonstration in the Sicilian capital of Palermo; photos by Donna Connor

With the mega best-seller Eat Pray Love hitting the big screen, The City Traveler asked its correspondents to share their memories of exploring the countries that forever changed the life of author Elizabeth Gilbert.

Here are snippets from their journeys to Italy (“Eat”), India (“Pray”) and Indonesia (“Love”).

Photographer Donna Connor also shares her evocative images from a recent trip to Sicily and Italy’s Aeolian Islands.

Jumping Off the Cliff (Again)

In Ravello, Italy, my husband surprised me with a fully orchestrated renewal of our vows at the Hotel Caruso, which teeters on a cliff. We drank oodles of champagne and listened as a shaman of sorts read us poetry, words that competed only with the slapping sound of the sea.

–– Becca Hensley

Marcello, Was That You?!

As a 19-year-old, in Italy for the first time, I barely stepped down from the train in Milano when I was pinched you-know-where. I whirled around expecting Marcello Mastroianni. Alas, it was a little, old man who probably had been greeting naive young American girls for almost a century.

–– Stacia Friedman

The (still-active) volcano on the island of Stromboli.

In Lucrezia Borgia’s Steps

In Ferrara, one of Italy’s most musical –– and car-free –– cities, the thrill was biking up through the center and turning on to a dirt path that circled the outside of the Renaissance walls; and coming back in through the gate the infamous Lucrezia Borgia used in the late 1500s.

–– Emilie Harting

Ritual Cleanse

I was worn out and pissed off when I got to Kerala, India. But  lying on a specially made wooden table while a massage therapist applied oil with downward strokes. soon gave me a taste of what well-being could feel like. Afterward, I was scrubbed with a green lentil powder that dried into a kind of whole body masque. Later, I sat beside the infinity pool, gazing at an elephant statue and the waters beyond.

–– Jacqueline Swartz

A back street on the Italian island of Lipari.

Rude Awakening

The 5 a.m. entrepreneurial alarm clock on the three-day train ride between Delhi and Kerala has no snooze button. “Mango Juice! Cold Drinks! Chai! Coffee! Chai! Coffee!” A baby starts to cry somewhere in the second-class sleep car. The Indian countryside says good morning.

–– Josh Miller

Organically Speaking

Ubud, Indonesia is home to a bustling artisan shopping and café district, along with a handful of old school spas that rely on natural products and hands-on body work. But I didn’t expect to find an organic restaurant in the middle of a rice field a 15-minutes walk away. There I savored a lunch of grilled chicken salad, vegetarian kebabs and fried bananas –– all for about $5.

–– Beth D’Addono

A good read: Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia