Whilst in Rome for 2.5 months last year, I was constantly intrigued by how the Italians stay slim. I mean they are surrounded by the most amazing patisseries, gelateria, cafes and restaurants. Any street you walk down, there is some shop with stunning displays of fresh produce or cakes or gelato. Tempting you. Like sirens singing their haunting songs; luring sailors to their death. Or in my case, luring me to gorge on macaroons or slices of seductive tiramisu cake.

I had a hard time keeping my weight down during my time in Rome. I am not blessed with the sort of metabolism that can eat anything and everything. I only have to set my eyes on a chocolate eclair to gain one kilo, let alone eat it. So I made sure that every weekend, I walked and walked and walked. I also made sure I stuck as much as possible to salads and indulged in cakes or gelato once or twice a week. This worked and I managed to remain around the same weight.

How do the Italians manage it? I do think they walk far more than the average Australian or New Zealander. And I also noticed that serving sizes in cafes and restaurants weren’t the super-size me portions we get in Oz or NZ (less in NZ I must say).

Down the hill from where I was living in Circo Massimo was the Cristalli di Zucchero patisserie. Talk about a visual feast for the eyes and stomach. They have several other locations in Rome too but, wouldn’t you know it, just my luck to have one so near to me. At least I had to walk down the hill and back up it, ladened with my spoils. So I managed to do a spot of exercise before scoffing whatever goodies I bought.

I did become somewhat obsessed with their macaroons. Give me a macaroon any day. I usually bought one lemon-flavoured macaroon and one vanilla. I tried to limit myself to two only. Tough decision let me tell you. I also indulged in a few slices over the 2.5 months – their chocolate brownie with fruit pieces is to die for.

I am due back in Rome soon and will be staying for two months this time. Most likely I’ll be there during May/June and my major challenge will be to keep away from all the patisseries. I plan to live somewhere other than Circo Massimo with my main hope being for a nice little apartment in Testaccio. It’s a former working-class neighbourhood that has been spruced up and there are tons of cafes, restaurants and a lively market. It’s my favourite area in Rome. If I can’t rent something here, then my next choice is Garbatella.

I know – a potential dumb ass decision on my part since both areas will be stuffed full of patisseries and cafes.