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Italy

While my family and friends in the States are enjoying the last sunrays of Summer 2014 this Labor Day, it’s Il Rientro here in Italy.

This time I am ready!

As I wrote earlier this summer, even after all the years I’ve lived here, I was still resistant to the European way of vacationing. I felt guilty and unproductive.

Well, I am happy to report that major progress has been made regarding my efforts to partake in the great Italian tradition of Dolce Far Niente.  I’m not completely out of the workaholic woods yet but these things take time.

I went to Siracusa, Sicily for my birthday, staying in the historic center called Ortigia.  The first two days the Internet in my apartment was down, which was a blessing in disguise.  I couldn’t obsessively check my emails or read news headlines.

When I arrived in Oritiga, I was a one big ball of stress.  By the end of the week, I was so calm not even the chaos at the Catania airport and my delayed flight could wind me up.

This calmness was short-lived as it ended by my first evening back in Rome but that’s a different story.

It was my first trip to this area of Sicily and just what the doctor ordered.  I didn’t realize how badly I needed a vacation until I had one. Yes, it was a short one but I still appreciated it.

The architecture, design, history, and culture were inspiring.  The food was on another level.  My friend and her family just happened to be staying at an apartment around the corner.

I will write more about my Sicilian adventures once I sort through all my photos.

It took a few days into my trip for my major breakthrough.  One morning I ditched my itinerary.  I kept my plan to jog along the seawall at sunrise, and then hit the farmers’ market after.  That was it.   I’ll be honest. At first it was an odd sensation to not know exactly what I was going to do the rest of the day.

When Erica called and invited me to lunch with her family at their place I said, “yes” instead of my usual freak out about impromptu plans.

It was a glorious day of having a delicious lunch with my friends on their terrace (which had this view),

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going to the “beach” (which was two block away),

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reading my books and magazines while drinking a lot of homemade Tè Freddo con Limone Granita,

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and enjoying the sweetness of doing nothing.

I went on to enjoy this sweetness several times during the rest of my trip.  I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I knew I how to do this.

Trust me, this is not a humblebrag.  You know when you ask someone how they’re doing and they reply, “BUSY!”?  Then they proceed to talk for twenty minutes about how busy they are?

I used to do the BUSY thing all the time when I lived in Los Angeles.  I broke out of that habit after living here a few years.  When Italians ask, “how are you?”, they really want to know.  It’s a conversation starter, not an opportunity to brag about how much work you do.  Nobody wants to hear that mess unless you are at a work conference or something.

While I have calmed down a bit since my big move, I still find myself feeling guilty for not working all the time.  I know there are people who never stop.  I did that during my Hollywood years but had nothing to show for it other than missed weddings back east, stress, and debt.

So I know I wasn’t healthy or happy during that time yet August in Rome continues to freak me out.  This week my vendors are closing up for the summer.  There is nothing I can do regarding deliveries, invoices, my projects, etc.

Last year when I went to Salina, I had a view like this,

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but I was constantly checking my emails and on the phone with my clients. However, that was in June.  August is another story.

In August I’m forced to slow down so why can’t I just chill the heck out without feeling guilty about it?  One of my favorite designers, Erin Gates of ELEMENTS OF STYLE, wrote a fantastic POST about the pressure we Americans put on ourselves to do it all.

It’s madness.  I told myself that this year would be different.   It’s not.  It’s only the 6th and instead of reveling in the summer, I want September to get here already.

My local caffe and many of my favorite restaurants are shutting down this week.  Only the places catering to tourists will be opened.  Most of my friends are gone and the rest are leaving next week.  Tumbleweeds will roll down Lungotevere.

I should try to follow my dad’s example.  He was an incredibly hard worker but he also knew how to relax.  He truly appreciated the little vacation and down time he had.  My mom also worked hard but NEVER relaxed.  Even on her days off from work she was going, going, going.  I used to think I was a combination of the two but no, I’m more like my mom.  There’s always something that must be done.

I have my own company.  You’d think I would be able to give myself a break and/or vacation.  No, instead I think if don’t burn the candle at both ends I won’t be able to succeed, which means I won’t be able to pay my rent, therefore I will end up living under the Ponte Sisto bridge.

Okay, this summer I am going to break the cycle, dammit!  I must do it for my mental, physical, and creative health.

We’ll see how the rest of the year shapes up as I start my quest to partake in the fine Italian tradition of Dolce Far Niente.

Any suggestions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I see the top of this church every time I walk across the piazza near my house.  Built from 1642-1660, it’s a classic work of Baroque architecture.  The architect was Francesco Borromini, aka arch enemy of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

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Photo: me with my iPhone

While I am down for Bernini, it’s unfortunate that Borromini is not appreciated more. His contemporaries were perceived as being stronger visual artists. Borromini’s strength was more technical but that doesn’t mean we should overlook the beauty of his buildings.

Borromini was extremely difficult to work with and often depressed.  He committed suicide in 1667.

This church is just one of his masterpieces and it inspires me.

Buon weekend!

 

 

 

I’ve written before regarding how much I adore the collection Italian architect/furniture and interior designer Paola Navone has created exclusively for the American store Crate & Barrel.

Her new collection is out.  My siblings were kind enough to give me a gift certificate to Crate & Barrel and I had to get these glasses.

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Now they are sitting at my sister’s house.   One day they’ll make it to Rome.

I love the color of the rim and the lines of the glass.  Very simple and very stylish.

Today’s edition of Stylish Simplicity highlights the ERES bikini.

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Work it J.Lo 

Photo. Vogue June 2012

This French brand has some of the most beautiful bathing suits on the planet… classic and well made.

I never wore a bikini until I moved to Italy.  NEVER.  I grew up seeing magazine covers constantly saying, “Get A Beach Ready Body!” or tabloid headlines that screamed, “Worst Beach Bodies!”   In Los Angeles many of my colleagues gleefully ripped celebrities to shreds, calling them fat and what not.  Celebrities who were no larger than a size 4.

What’s the point of starving oneself for the season?  What happens once the summer is over, back to bad eating habits? I blame the Puritans for this madness.

The first time I went to the beach here I was stunned by the variety of shapes, sizes, and ages wearing bikinis and Speedos.  Italians were chilling, just doing their thing.  I stood out with my very sensible one-piece for a woman of a “certain age.”

How do my friends in Italy get ready for beach season?  They put on a bathing suit and go to the beach.

I’m not sure what made me decide to take the plunge and finally buy my first bikini.  In the fitting room, I told the saleslady there wasn’t enough coverage on top. She looked at me like I had two heads.   She said that’s the way a bikini was supposed to fit.  I was skeptical.

The day came when my Eres bikini and I went out in public.  The world didn’t stop spinning.   The Italians couldn’t care less.  The only reason I stood out is because I was one of the few people of color on the beach not selling a trinket.

Now my sensible one-pieces (which actually made me look heavier) are sitting at the back of my closet.  To me function is just as important as style.  A two-piece is more practical than a one-piece.

I wish I could go back and talk to my critical younger self. I’d tell her to get a grip, just go to the darn beach, and enjoy herself.

There’s a very vibrant street art scene in Rome, which surprises quite a few people.  One of best areas to see some of this art, is the San Lorenzo district.

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Photo: Alice Pasquini

San Lorenzo is home to La Sapienza, one of the largest universities in the world and the biggest in Europe.

This area of Rome was also the most heavily bombed during WW II.   Most of the buildings were destroyed and you can still see some of the damage today.  As with many neighborhoods located near large universities, there’s a large population of artists and other creative types mixed in with older residents.

If you’re in Rome this Sunday, there is a Street Art Instameetup in San Lorenzo starting at 5:00 p.m.

Join the organizers Erica Firpo @moscerina, Jessica Stewart @romephotoblog, Darius Arya @saverome, and Matteo @mattego as they roam in Rome.

If you cannot be with us in person, you can follow via Instagram.

Buon weekend a tutti!

I chuckle when I read articles telling tourists they can see Rome in a day.

I have lived here for six years and visited regularly for three years prior and I still haven’t seen everything this city has to offer.

One of the places on my list was the Galleria Doria Pamphilj .      Note:  Sometimes the name is spelled with a “i”.

I have been to the café several times but never to the museum.  Last week I finally went.

Bellissimo.  It’s the largest palazzo in Rome that is still owned by the family.  There are free audio guides (subject to availability).  Prince Jonathan Pamphilj’s narration is fantastic.  He really makes the rooms come alive and it’s very interesting to hear his stories about growing up in the palazzo.  Jonathan and his family live in one of the apartments on the upper level of the palazzo, as does his sister Gesine and her family.

There are over 550 works of art.   The Doria Pamphilj family has one of the biggest private art collections in Rome.   Fortunately for art lovers, the collection is opened to the public.

For me the highlights were the Caravaggios, the ballroom, and the Velázquez.

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Photos: Doria Pamphilj

DETAILS

Open every day from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.
Last entry 6.00 p.m.
Closed: 25th December, 1st January, Easter.
We inform our visitors that the Palazzo Doria Pamphili is open to the public November 1st, April 25th, May 1st.

TICKETS

Full price: €11,00 (audio guide included – subject to availability)
Concessions or Groups, children and young adults between 6 and 26 years old: €7.50
Schools/ University: 5,00 €
Concessions for school groups with prior reservation by fax or e-mail : info@dopart.it ; biglietteria@dopart.it
All cards are accepted except Am.Ex & Diners

CONTACTS

Entrance: Via del Corso, 305 – Rome
Tel: +39 06 / 6797323
Fax: +39 06 / 6780939
E-mail: info@dopart.it
Website: http://www.dopart.it

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