Stage and screen actress Viola Davis, star of the popular ABC TV show “How to Get Away With Murder,’’ may live in Southern California, but she hasn’t forgotten her Central Falls, R.I., roots. Davis, 51, has partnered with Vaseline’s Healing Project (which provides dermatological care, medical supplies, Vaseline products, and health worker training to help heal the skin of people living in the wake of crisis and disaster) and was in Central Falls recently to attend a clinic providing skin screenings and medical services to those in need in the community. “It was great to be back and see old friends — and to give back to something that is greater than just me and my family,’’ she said. “You can’t downplay good health and health care access.’’ When she is in Rhode Island and has some free time, Davis said she loves going to Point Judith in Narragansett. “It is the most spectacular area,’’ she said. “And I think Rhode Island probably has some of the best restaurants in the country. There’s one in Narragansett called Turtle Soup that I love.’’ We caught up with Davis, who is married to Julius Tennon (and with whom she has a 6-year-old daughter, Genesis — “6 going on 25’’ — she joked), to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Greece. I love the history, I love the people, I love the food, and I love the absolute freedom; the freedom and the lack of inhibition of the culture. Santorini is my favorite area. Looking out at the caldera and seeing the sunset . . . it’s probably something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Always a mimosa. And for food it’s different depending what country you’re traveling to, but I’m just going to stick with a lobster bisque. No matter what, if I see that on the menu, it’s what I get. I think it’s the Rhode Island in me — and also because it’s hearty.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? Rome is where I plan to go next, mainly because of the artwork. I am dying to see Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, and I love the food and the people in Italy. Italy’s a close second to Greece. Hopefully I’ll go next year. I want my daughter to experience that culture. She’s been to China, and to different parts of the US, but I want her to experience Rome.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Oh my goodness, there’s so much. Definitely a good pair of walking shoes. I’m a power exercise walker and I just love walking. [Growing up,] we never had a car and had very limited resources for a bus, so I grew up loving to walk. When I’m in New York, I will walk 200 blocks every single day just to walk. Oh, and I always bring a great blanket for the plane. Even if there’s a blanket on the plane, I need my own cotton blanket that I can fold up and keep in my bag.
Aisle or window? Definitely the aisle because there’s something about being on a plane and having a window seat. For some reason, something psychological happens and I have to go to the bathroom all the time. I don’t like bothering the person next to me. The aisle just gives me way more freedom to get up and move.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Going to South Carolina on a Greyhound bus when I was 6 years old. My mom gave me chicken wings and I got really sick, but it was still a memorable trip. The bus broke down, too, and I thought that was really cool. The whole thing was just a different experience for me.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Probably looking for the nearest chocolate store. When I’m in Amsterdam, I always get chocolate. Amsterdam has the best chocolate. And when I’m in Paris, I always find a great chocolate place or someplace with macaroons.
Best travel tip? You know what? My best travel tip is to not plan everything, to just be open to the experience and to whatever the day may bring . . . to be OK with getting lost and knowing that there’ll be a big discovery at the end of the day. To not be so rigid.