This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Lapping up gelato in Italy, seeking spiritual guidance in India and falling in love in Bali. When American author Elizabeth Gilbert published her 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love – chronicling her trip around the world after her divorce – women flocked to all three countries in search of a similar life-changing adventure.
In 2010, the movie adaptation of the book, starring Julia Roberts, only served to strengthen the Eat, Pray, Love globe-trotting movement. Today, in homage to one of our favourite memoirs, we’re taking you on your own personal tour of the locations made famous in Gilbert’s beloved novel and film. Join us as we eat in Italy, pray in India and love in Bali …
Eat in Italy
Julia Roberts claims she gained 10 pounds while filming the ‘eat’ portion of the movie in Italy, and it’s not hard to see why. Long lunches over red wine, creamy, comforting bowls of pasta and pillowy crusted pizzas topped with sweet tomato sauce and mozzarella – Italy is for indulging.
As you meander with your gelato, make a stop at the lively, daily market at Campo de’ Fiori square. You can buy fresh produce at the market, as well as fish, meat, flowers and spices, and get a real education in Italian food by communicating with the stall traders, exactly as Elizabeth did in the book.
No Eat, Pray, Love pilgrimage is complete without a short trip to Naples to sample the delights of Pizzeria da Michele. The family here have been making pizza since 1870. Some of the beautiful lunchtime scenes from the movie were filmed at the restaurant, and Elizabeth recommends you always order the double mozzarella. “These pies are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return.”
Pray in India
At the beating heart of India, you’ll find a myriad of colourful street markets and vibrant festivals against the backdrop of pink hued palaces and majestic mosques. Charter a rice barge through the backwaters or head out into the countryside, however, and you’ll have your pick of quiet, spiritual retreats – just as Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love.
That said, hardcore Ashram stays (a sort of spiritual hermitage) aren’t for everyone. The retreat Gilbert is widely rumoured to have attended, which includes basic accommodation, daily chores and mandatory religious ceremonies, doesn’t even accept casual visitors.
The Ashram Hari Mandir near Delhi, meanwhile, is a little more open to guests with various courses and temple worship offered throughout the year, as well as onsite hostel accommodation. This is where many of Julia Roberts’ Ashram scenes were filmed. The actress even converted to Hinduism during her stay.
For a spiritual journey with a touch of luxury, Sheyras Retreat – an ashram meets stylish boutique hotel outside Bangalore – offers accommodation in beautifully serene garden cottages, twice daily yoga sessions, meditation and spa treatments. Sort of like the spiritual experience detailed in the book, with a few more massages thrown in for good measure. There’s no shame in that.
If you’d rather go for all out luxury and glamour, you can also rent the Julia Roberts Cottage at The Pataudi Palace outside of Delhi, where some scenes of the film were shot. This grand, sweeping, palatial landmark – complete with meandering peacocks on the front lawns – is where the actress stayed while she was filming in India and will make you feel every inch the movie star. Don’t worry, you won’t need a movie star budget; rooms start at around £50 a night.
Love in Bali
While we can’t guarantee you’ll meet a hunk of a Brazilian businessman on your travels in Bali, there are certainly plenty of romantic things to do. As overrun as the island can become with travellers, there is still a rich beauty about this little slice of Indonesian paradise. Breathtaking beaches, majestic mountains and lush, green vegetation – it’s a veritable feast for the eyes.
Elizabeth Gilbert stayed at Ubud Inn and Spa on the centre of the island, where you too can book a room from £25 a night. This offers a perfect base to explore the island, and there are plenty of couples spa services available.
Alternatively, you can make like Julia Roberts and rent a villa at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. Designed like a traditional Balinese village, the resort stretches across 35 acres of oceanfront. Enjoy holistic spa treatments, pretty gardens, Balinese temples or the (ahem, private) plunge pool that comes with your villa.
If you can tear yourself away from your beautiful accommodation, ask someone to point you in the direction of a palm reader in town and see what your future holds. Elizabeth Gilbert famously had her own future-telling medicine man by the name of Ketut Liyer in the book.
Whether you opt for horse riding on the beach, strolling through the lush, rice paddy fields or navigating your way around the spiritual offerings of flowers, rice and even sweets, which dot the pavements and entrances of galleries, shops and restaurants, you’ll find romance at every turn in Bali. Enough to keep you occupied for the entire duration of your stay and then some.
For the perfect last night experience, head to the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu Temple, perched atop a dramatic cliff face at the southernmost tip of the island. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, the temple is an architectural wonder in black coral rock. Every evening, as the sun sets, there is a hypnotic dance performance by traditional Kecak dancers.
Warriors, evil kings, exile and love; the display is a thrilling end to an altogether thrilling journey.