Archive

Commercial Interiors

Earlier I wrote about the interior design of La Bandita Townhouse.   Clearly the owners, John and Ondine, have put as much thought into the service as they did into the décor.

From the first email to book my room, until the day I left, the service was (as the young folks say) on fleek.  This is something I do not take for granted.  Unfortunately, too many people have no idea what it means to work in the hospitality business. Why they would open or work in a hotel/restaurant/spa, etc. is beyond me.

Pienza is small hilltop town with a population of approximately two thousand people.  It was the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who would become Pope Pius II. Piccolomini rebuilt the entire village, starting in 1459, after he became Pope.  He saw it as a lovely Renaissance retreat from the Papal capital.  In 1996 Pienza was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s a perfect base from which to explore this region of Tuscany (with a car).  Montapluciano, Siena, and other towns are close by.  If you’re a Pecorino cheese fan, a visit to Pienza is a must.

Since I was only staying for two nights, I didn’t rent a car and spent most of my time close to the Townhouse.  It was FREEZING.  I’m not exaggerating.  I haven’t been that cold since my days at Syracuse University.

I was elated to see these fire pits around town.  I love how in this country even a simple and functional thing, like a fire pit, is well designed.  I mean, look at the darn logs.  Did the person who built the fire make sure they were “just so” or what?  Also, as I said before, it was beyond freezing.  Who has time to worry about aesthetics in sub-freezing weather?   If the logs were janky, would the fire builder be called out?

I truly appreciate this attention to details.

IMG_0237

 

The views were spectacular.  Sunset.

IMG_0221

 

Sun rising. View as I started my epic walk three and a half-hour walk.

IMG_0306

 

Remember this road from the movie GLADIATOR?  No, I was not entertained. I was a little freaked out because I didn’t see a single person for kilometers.  I started to think, “what if a wild boar attacked me? Nobody could hear me scream. Where the heck is the next farm house?”

IMG_0319

 

Seriously, NOBODY was around.

IMG_0323

 

The top of this well, stylish simplicity.

IMG_0330

 

Pieve dei Santi Vito e Modesto Church.  It was built sometime during the 11th and 12th centuries.   Notice the distinctive carvings above the door.  Several of these small country churches were built above Etruscan sites and used some of the same imagery.

IMG_0312

 

I had a fantastic dinner at the hotel, after I defrosted.  The restaurant is open to the pubic (you need reservations).  Chef David and his sous-chef, Jacopo, knocked it out of the park.

IMG_0365

 

Martina pours some Prosecco.

IMG_0271

 

During high season, Pienza is very popular with tour groups.  This charming video about La Bandita and Pienza helps explain why.

A big Thank You to everyone at La Bandita.  Sometimes it’s not so easy to travel alone and they made me feel at home.

Photos: Me and my iPhone.

 

 

I’ve read about La Bandita, a country house near Pienza and have seen photos of it in various shelter magazines/design articles.

A little over a year ago, John Voigtmann and his wife Ondine Cohane opened La Bandita Townhouse converting a former convent in center of Pienza into a 12-room boutique hotel.

My friend Gillian and husband stayed there recently.  She told me I had to see it in person.  Gillian knows my taste and said I would love it.

She was correct.  I know people are sick and tired of decorators using words like swoon! obsessed! and dying! when describing interiors.  However, let me say, I swooned when I saw my room. I was obsessed with the design of the kitchen and was dying over the views.

I’ve written before about the mix.  It’s something you see frequently in French and Italian interiors.  It’s not easy to pull off.  Sometimes the space is too modern for the architecture and it feels cold.  Or the design is so faithful to the past, it’s dated.

Working with Florence based architects, Arianna Pieri and Ernesto Bartolini of DA.Studio, John and Ondine have created a lovely space. In a hotel, all the beauty in the world doesn’t mean a thing if the service is awful. It was fantastic and I will write about a post about that and Pienza soon.

I absolutely adore this type of décor.  The same architects worked on Monteverdi with interiors by Ilaria Miani.

i found out that one of the main resources for La Bandita Townhouse was the store Barthel.  No wonder it spoke to me as we sourced most of the items for the bathrooms in our Tuscany project from Barthel.

This was my room, number 12.  I arrived late afternoon.  The amount of light during the day is unreal.  I love that they retained the stone wall.  The view from the tub was sick.  The Ortigia products were a nice touch, as were the free water and soda in the mini-bar.

In my next apartment I would like a canopy bed. The colors, the lighting, the bed linens, I really didn’t want to leave this room after two days.

I have to ask if they have a room with a desk, because La Bandita is a perfect spot for writers.

IMG_0209

 

Tears of happiness when i saw this huge shower stall.  I really need to move.

IMG_0206

 

Gorgeous.  The main hallway is the first thing you see when you walk thru the door. The convent dates from the 1400s.

IMG_0337

 

Again, stone walls.  A lot of natural materials with pops of orange throughout.

IMG_0289

 

This kitchen is everything.  In the States open-plan kitchens are preferred but not in Italy (or the Caribbean).  Notice the overhead window over the bar?  It drops down.  Once you close the door on the left of the bar, you have a closed kitchen that lets in light.   A friend of mine, who lives in a loft in Rome, did something very similar.  It’s a brilliant idea.

la_Bandita_Townhouse_07-399x400

 

An old map of Italy in the library/lounge.

IMG_0372

 

I was very excited to see so many classic LPs in different genres. I could’ve stayed up all night listening to music.  I still have some vinyl and for my next apartment (I know, I know) I will buy a turntable.

IMG_0242

 

You know how I feel about books and magazines.  It was freezing outside.  It was nice to curl up on the sofa and just chill.

IMG_0212

 

John is former music industry executive.  Some of his gold records sit on top of the bookcase.

la_Bandita_Townhouse_41-400x400

 

Aperitivi time!

IMG_0246

 

John has said he and Ondine wanted to create a beautiful, comfortable hotel where people could come to relax and enjoy Tuscany. They have. La Bandita is a special place. I cannot wait to return during warmer weather so I can eat outside on their fantastic terrace.

Photos: (except for the one of the kitchen and of the bookcase) me and my iPhone.

Click HERE to see more from La Bandita’s great photo gallery.

La Bandita Townhouse

Corso Il Rossellino, 111
Pienza (SI) 53026
Toscana, Italia
Tel +39 0578 749 005
info@la-bandita.com

 

Recently AWAR (The American Women’s Association of Rome) had the privilege of taking a small (only twenty members) private tour of Bulgari’s Heritage Collection.

I RSVPed the minute I read the invitation.

I haven’t been inside the store since the Peter Marino renovation.  One morning, when I was jogging up Via Condotti on my way to Villa Borghese Park, I’m positive I saw the architect walking out of the store.  Who else would be wearing that outfit at 8:30 in the morning, in Rome?

Bulgari was founded by Sotirios Bulgaris in Rome one hundred and thirty years ago. The Heritage Collection is a celebration of this history.  There are over six hundred unique pieces.  The jewelery, watches, accessories, and drawings were curated during years of research and archival work.  Bulgari has been buying back importance pieces from auctions and private collections.

While Bulgari is part of the French high-end global powerhouse LVMH, the DNA of the company is Roman.

DOMUS means home in Latin and that space (located on the second floor) is where you will find pieces from the Heritage Collection.

The store is gorgeous.  Marino, inspired by the Pantheon and other Roman masterpieces, modernized the flagship store without stripping it of its history and charm.

The foyer on the first floor. Nods to the Pantheon in this circular space.

Bulgari-New-Rome-Flagship-Store-00009

 

The back stairs that lead to Domus.  That pattern.

Bulgari-New-Rome-Flagship-Store-00002

 

This floor and that table.  No words.

Bulgari-New-Rome-Flagship-Store-00003

 

Here’s a picture I took of the floor so you can see the intricate tiling.  Stunning.  I gasped when I saw it.

IMG_9733

 

Caterina Riccardi, Bulgari Brand Heritage Special Projects, explains the connection between the Heritage Collection and the Eternal City. Ms. Riccardi was the Via Condotti store manager for over thirty years.  Her tour was excellent, informative and entertaining.

IMG_9721

 

This sapphire necklace was bought from a private collector in the States.  Be still, my beating heart.

IMG_9703

 

Richard Burton once said, “The only Italian word Elizabeth knows is Bulgari.”   Burton gave Taylor this sapphire and diamond necklace  and ring for her fortieth birthday.  Actress Jessica Chastin wore the iconic necklace at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  She was the first person to wear it since Taylor.

IMG_9665

IMG_9685

 

From 1960, a gold watch bracelet with diamonds and rubies.  I do not like snakes but I’d make an exception for this one.

IMG_9694

This is just a little taste of the incredible pieces in this collection.   I was inspired by the colors, the designs, and the craftsmanship.

By appointment only. To reserve a visit, contact: DOMVScondotti.visits@bulgari.com or +39 06 688101

First three photos: Bulgari.

Other photos:  Me and my iPhone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anguilla is quite the A-list celebrity/VIP destination these days.  However, the small island has managed to retain it’s relaxed, quiet charm.

My most recent piece for FATHOM Magazine went live today.

 

ANGUILLA – I wish I could say I have always appreciated this beautiful island. That would be untrue.

When my family moved from New York City to the leafy suburbs of Verona, New Jersey, I knew I had to become a true American teenager. I was hampered by my parents’ insistence on raising their children as if we were a family living in the Caribbean.

My parents are from St. Martin (totally different from the Dutch side, St. Maarten) and both my grandmothers were Anguillian. Whenever we went to St. Martin to stay with my paternal grandparents, we ferried over to Anguilla to visit family and friends. When I was a child it, was fun to hang out with my cousins, go the beaches, and stuff ourselves on Johnnycakes, rice and peas, and salt fish cakes. But as for the stunning white beaches of the island, they were lost on me when I was older. I mean, I was a teenager. Visiting relative after relative while sitting on their verandas for hours drinking Ting was boring.

The final anti-island straw happened one night when I was walking back to my aunt’s house and a mongoose ran across my foot. I was done. I thought, “I could be chilling at the Short Hills Mall with my friends instead of being stuck on this tiny island.”

It wasn’t until my parents moved to back to St. Martin after retirement and I moved to Rome that I began to understand why those trips back home were so important.

To read the rest and see more pictures, click HERE.

AXA14

The beach at Cap Juluca with the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten in the background.

Photo: Me and my iPHone

How funky are these chairs?

IMG_5161

I am a big fan of Kelly Wearstlers commercial work, yet the Viceroy in Anguilla took me by surprise.

A few years ago I met clients for a drink at the bar.  At first, when I walked in, the décor seemed so “uncaribbean” to me.

Then I walked around.  It IS very Caribbean.  Wearstler’s use of natural materials, her color palette, and the subtle nod to more tradition Caribbean design makes the Viceroy one my favorite hotel spaces.

This hotel is huge and could easily feel very corporate (thinking of a certain hotel on the Dutch side of St. Maarten that ruined one of the best beaches on the island).

Instead it’s unique and jaw dropping gorgeous.

Not a bad place to meet for drinks, especially with a locals’ discount.

I have more meetings this weekend about my Caribbean project.

Feeling very inspired

Buon weekend!

 

 

Before my first trip to Italy, nine years ago, I had to cut my vacation short.  The production company I worked for decided to shut down, permanently, two weeks before Christmas.  Happy Holidays everyone!

I was going to scrap the entire trip but my family was very worried about my mental state and insisted I go.

I decided to travel to only one city for just one week.  I narrowed down my choices to Rome or Florence.  One of my good friends in L.A. is a hardcore Italophile.  She proclaimed that I was a Rome person and should save Florence for another trip.

I’ve been to Florence twice. The art is stupendous and the city is beautiful.  Yet each time I felt anxious and couldn’t wait to return to Rome.  It’s not as if Rome is a laid back place.  However, Florence is a much smaller city and cannot handle the hordes of tourists and study aboard students.

Well, I need to get over it because I must see the new Portrait Firenze.  The architect/interior designer is Michele Bonan.  I’ve written about how much I LOVE his work, especially, the newish J.K. Place in Rome.

The hotel is owned by the Ferragamo family (the Lungarno Collection) and is located in the heart of the Historic Center. It has only thirty-six rooms and killer views of the Ponte Vecchio. It’s scheduled to open this spring.

Look at that view.  Love the soft relaxing colors.  Those green lamps?  Must track down.

sUYXXGQFZR47zefnG4mAD54sTVvf79nq1FGd5nRjyfg,UBmzoqTkaK8tyET-Z1kui8M8yEFAwt-hcqYuWIB_KTE,ho-fgUc6kBoIit7axfCIkxI7V7whcmD19xHjVdnuvjM,OkknJ9vwWPdnTx4f0Nlitj82mh3VQUy6s5r1ad0xt9w,0nhQv88HP_fnp9eoPX3xkaGKnb8M_pB5zuTe3C7fl3g

pK1m2R-hRsIL2NvxKQBQQSQEZue27QLtqVSPOYkkpUw

Sigh. No words.

0YVHfPdrC01wG6kRpbnZvP9rcv9QKy67PgloZSiTvJA

I need to be here with my man, enjoying the Franciacorta.

q5rBjxnwnwNexvKQeUlpYKwluMkBiS4sbRiLp_Pw-vM,-M-eqktmJl0Kg7jTHA5ngeDYD86VbjkUp23cXB_-e2I,vEdjLIZAzSuoztaBUI8aFpumgfSgFNrUu55LcEb9TV8,XFj5nsDV5Y7UoDdkkccM4XRLtreT3eBORRa-p5MTWvk,iSE5KE9PwvbKpyqCys5_WezY6y9PU5U9JXvqigxgkas

Pocket doors. Dark wood.  Look at that ceiling.

4wwWwwlz1MChNf2DkZoaGm6BqcjecQBShWYko1vWDvw,BoIhajwAQBT8drFC1_NbNnrZLlj_rHst7n7TrZmo1QQ,xucAjYg4_gue_04De-goLtfyLrab29D__45vIdTOzbw,7TppkATKU765GodA_Oa8p6jltPUFJN0Zq9mi_wb9Osc,bIT0bFaomt3z-3ffCG5K7XK8lIxzVQtfUOPaLMzVouw

Photos: Lungarno Collection

Happy New Year!

Last year my word was, “si.”

I took some risks (professionally and personally).  I learned a lot and I’d like to keep this momentum going.  The Italian word for “to grow” is perfect.

Other words I considered:

Chevron – I don’t care what anyone says.  This print is a classic and will never be out of style.

Suite Nine - Palazzo Margherita. Designed by Jacques Grange.

Suite Nine – Palazzo Margherita. Designed by Jacques Grange.

 

Idris Elba – Okay, that’s two words.

 

Jon Hamm – Two more words.  The interview starts at 3:41

 

Do you have a word for 2014?

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,208 other followers