On Location in Italy, India, and Bali

Neptune is the central figure in Rome's Trevi Fountain, the construction of which took 30 years. Photo by Anthony Woods
By Gretchen Kelly

Hotels and tour operators are all vying for the Eat, Pray, Love tourist dollar. Here's how to plan your own pilgrimage for the best price.

And if you can't escape to Italy, India, or Bali just yet, the DVD debuts Nov. 23 -- perfect for holiday shoppers in need of some travel inspiration.

While you're at it, don't forget to register for your chance to win a four-night trip to Rome, courtesy of Delta Vacations.

Photo Caption: Neptune is the central figure in Rome's Trevi Fountain, the construction of which took 30 years.
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On location in Italy in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo by CTMG, Inc.
Julia Roberts claimed to have gained 7 to 10 pounds on her Italian "Eat" portion of the film. You don't have to sign up for pricey Eat, Pray, Love-themed tours to follow in the author Liz Gilbert's steps. Most of the package trips being offered as movie and book tie-ins to Italy don't offer anything exclusive that you can't do on your own. For example, the book and the movie focus on two food experiences: gelato and pizza.

In Rome, dive into your gelato with the same gusto at the Il Gelato di San Crispino (tel. 39-06-679-3924; www.ilgelatodisancrispino.it; 42 Via della Panetteria). The gelateria has several locations (including one at Rome's Fiumicino Airport in Terminal A if you're just passing through), but it's the tiny shop at 42 Via della Panatteria that you see in the movie. Skip vanilla and try the exotic flavors like Licorice Root, Ricotta, and Zabaione. The shop can even pack your gelato into portable containers that stay cold for up to six hours, extending your "Eat" pilgrimage even longer.

Julia's pizza orgy was held at the Naples pizzeria that Italians call "The Temple of Pizza": L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele (tel. 39-08-15-53-9204; www.damichele.net, Unica Sede, Via Cesare Sersale, 1/3). The family has been making the famed pizza since 1870, but this shop has been in this location since the 1930s. Author Liz Gilbert advises readers to "order the double mozzarella," according to her website. "If you go to Naples and don't eat this pizza, please lie to me later and tell me that you did."

Photo Caption: On location in Italy in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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On location in India in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. Photo by CTMG, Inc.
Ashram stays such as the one that Gilbert undertook are not for every traveler. Most real ashram experiences involve basic accommodations, service requirements (sweeping, cleaning, cooking), and mandatory attendance at religious rituals.

Although the ashram where Gilbert stayed does not welcome casual visitors, EPL pilgrims can view the working ashram where the movie was filmed, about 40 miles from India's capital of Delhi. The Ashram Hari Mandir (www.ashramharimandir.org) is a large complex of buildings that includes a school, a hostel, and a temple that can be visited for free.For more ambitious EPL fans, the ashram runs occasional religious programs that are open to all and during which you can bunk in the student digs.

For the more hedonistic traveler, check in at Pataudi Palace (www.neemranahotels.com), where Julia Roberts stayed while filming in the region. Rooms start at 3,500 Indian rupees (about $75) per night. The 1930s-era palace even has peacocks strutting on the lawn.

Photo Caption: On location in India in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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On location in Indonesia in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc.  All Rights Reserved. Photo by CTMG, Inc.
Bali has been overrun by spiritual tourists even before Eat, Pray, Love package tours began. These days, personal consultations with fortune teller Ketut Liyer (featured in the book and film) are the highlights of most EPL tours.

You can reserve a luxurious Four Seasons package (Julia Roberts stayed in a villa at the Jimbaran Bay property), or you can choose a group tour with a lower price tag and more grass-roots accommodations. The Four Seasons' Eat, Pray, Love package (available through 2010) includes a personal consultation with Ketut Liyer, a Balinese cooking class, a massage, and breakfast daily. Prices start at $750 per night with a four-night minimum stay; international airfare isn't covered in this package.

Spirit Quest Tours (www.spiritquesttours.com) is offering a June 2011 Bali vacation that starts at $1,986 for six nights at a hotel in Ubud, a consultation with Ketut Liyer, and morning yoga. There is also a visit to the vitamin shake shack that Roberts and Gilbert both enjoyed as well as other book-inspired activities. International airfare isn't included in this price.

An important caveat: if you book one of these tours based on the Ketut Liyer portion of the trip, you may be disappointed. The healer was hospitalized in August at the age of 96, due to a heart ailment and due to exhaustion from the 50-plus people seeking him for consultations.

Photo Caption: On location in Indonesia in Columbia Pictures' "Eat Pray Love." ©2010 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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