Sophie in Eat Pray Love: A New Friend in Italy

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Sophie in Eat Pray Love? How do she and Elizabeth Gilbert meet and what is Sophie’s role in the story?

Sophie in Eat Pray Love was a Swedish woman who Elizabeth met in Rome. Together, they made friends, ate delicious food, and explored the country.

Read more about Sophie in Eat Pray Love and her friendship with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Sophie in Eat Pray Love

Gilbert made other friends through different means, as well. She grew close with her language partner, Giovanni. Their conversations centered mostly on politics and philosophy, and they knew little about each other’s personal lives. But they enjoyed each other’s company. 

Gilbert also made a close friend from her language course, a Swedish woman named Sophie (Sofie). Sophie in Eat Pray Love had also left her life behind for 4 months for the simple purpose of studying Italian in Rome. 

Eating Her Way to Happiness

One of Gilbert’s happiest memories from Rome was finding a farm stand down the street from her studio. She purchased fresh asparagus and paired it with poached eggs, olives, goat cheese, and salmon for lunch. She took her plate to a sunny spot on the studio floor and ate every bit with her fingers. With her Italian paper and her beautiful lunch, she felt happiness oozing from every poor. Her instinct to feel guilty about doing nothing kicked in. But she brushed it off. She’d finally learned bel far niente

Food was a constant source of pleasure for Gilbert in Rome. Another friend, an American food writer living in Italy, took her to all the best restaurants in Rome. Luca introduced her to an Italian delicacy—lamb intestines. And pastries, gelato, and cappuccino were daily favorites. However, one of the most memorable meals Gilbert had was pizza in Naples. 

After meeting a young Australian woman backpacking through Europe, Gilbert found she was jealous of this woman’s adventures. True, she was on her own adventure, but the energy of visiting a new place and living in a new place was different. Since she was in Rome for four months, she felt more like a resident than a traveler. To feed her wandering spirit, she and her Swedish friend Sophie in Eat Pray Love took the train to Naples, the birthplace of pizza and ice cream. 

Giovanni was from Naples and made Gilbert promise she’d go to the best pizzeria in town. To Gilbert, the best pizza in the city that invented pizza meant it would be the best in the world. She couldn’t wait. She and Sophie in Eat Pray Love set off on their journey.

Pizzeria de Michele did not disappoint. Both Gilbert and Sophie in Eat Pray Love had other-worldly experiences eating this pizza. The crust was thin but soft. The cheese dripped off the sides, and the tomato sauce was tart, salty, and sweet. Each ate a whole pie themselves and ordered another. 

At some point during the meal, Gilbert caught a reflection of herself in the window. She was heavier because of all the eating, but it wasn’t the weight she saw. Instead, she saw a vibrant, healthy, and happy woman, someone she hadn’t seen in years.

Sophie in Eat Pray Love: A New Friend in Italy

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Eat Pray Love summary:

  • Why Elizabeth Gilbert needed to divorce her husband
  • How she was able to find joy again in Italy
  • How Gilbert was able to find balance with Felipe

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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