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Italy

There has been great deal of press about the new Design Director of Tiffany & Co., Francesca Amfitheatrof.  She is the first woman to have this position at the storied American jewelry company.  The job had been vacant for five years. Ms. Amfitheatrof had some big shoes to fill.

Ms. Amfitheatrof, who trained with a master silversmith in Padua after college, has created pieces for Chanel, Alessi, and Fendi.  She was born in Japan to an Italian mother and a Russian-American father, who was a TIME bureau chief, and grew up in New York, Rome, London, and Moscow.

I love her new collection for Tiffany.  This bracelet is so simple and so chic.

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18 karat rose gold bracelet

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Narrow Wire 18 karat white gold bracelet

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18 Karat gold braclet

I have read some comments claiming that this collection is not all that.  It’s TOO simple, “Hello it’s just a T. My kid could do that.”   I cringe when I hear people make those kind of statements about any kind of creative endeavor.

The simpler something is, the easier it is to mess it up.  Look at Cacio e Pepe, not many ingredients but a difficult dish to execute well.  There are no bells and whistles to hide imperfections.  Every single ingredient has to be of excellent quality.

It’s is the same thing with these bracelets (yes, I just compared high-end jewelry to a simple Roman pasta dish).

You can wear these bracelet with many different styles of clothing.  I think they are destined to become classics like some of Elsa Peretti’s pieces.   The Tiffany T bracelet is the very definition of Stylish Simplicity.

Photos: Tiffany

The American series AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS started airing this week in Italy on the channel LEI.

Hosted by Nate Berkus, it’s a mash up between EXTREME MAKEOVERS and TOP DESIGN.  I have always wondered about the reality of the former.  They do a lot of structural changes.  How well was the construction, plumbing, and electrical work executed when they have only a week to demolish and rebuild?  Could the owners afford the increase in property taxes?  So many questions.

One thing I really like about this show is that two teams work on two houses from a similar era and/or style.  It’s compelling to see how the teams agree (or not) on an overall aesthetic for their house and then how the individual designers design their rooms.

There is a mix of designers, contractors, and landscape architects.  Of course, there are some strong personalities.  Reality TV would be boring without them.

We are three episodes in and so far it’s fantastic.  The show is entertaining and educational.  Décor is very subjective but it’s interesting to hear the judges explain why they believe a room doesn’t work.  Sometimes it’s a design issue.  For example, the team did not address the layout issues.  Other times, it’s about the décor.  Those debates get heated.

I cannot wait to see who wins.  There are some very talented designers on this show.

Halloween is a big deal in the States.  Here in Italy, we are starting to see more and more decorations but it’s a three day holiday weekend, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

I have carved my share of pumpkins and ate my share of Halloween candy.  I don’t care what anyone says, candy corn should not be classified as a candy!

Perhaps I could ask one my friends who works at the American Embassy if the commissary sells Charleston Chews.  All of a sudden I have a craving for one today.  In the meantime, I will buy a few mini-pumpkins to decorate my table.

Leave it to Ms. Martha Stewart to take it to the next level with her squash version.

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Photo: Martha Stewart

Buon weekend a tutti!

Dolce & Gabbana have been knocking it out of the park.

I did read one review from a UK fashion critic who complained that D&G were tapping the Sicilian well too often.  She was RELIEVED to see that their S/S 2015 was influenced by Spain.

Hello, Spain ruled Sicily from 1516-1713.  This is still a Sicilian inspired collection.

There were a lot of bold red dresses and fitted black ones, but this black and white dress is one of my favorites.  Of course, I could never wear it as I’m too short and my breasts are too big.  But I love it.

The trim is beautiful.  I could see using something like it in home décor as well.

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Photo: Dolce & Gabbana

Buon weekend a tutti!

Why do I miss Sicily?   There are Sicilian restaurants in Rome.

Perhaps this is only an infatuation.  My first trip to Sicily was just last year, which I wrote about in FATHOM.  Maybe the island will lose its hold on me after a few more trips, or years.  We’ll see.

Like the cuisine, the art and architecture of Sicily has been influenced by the diverse cultures of its various rulers.

Every day I stopped by to see the Burial of Santa Lucia, painted by Caravaggio in 1608, located in the Santa Lucia alla Badia church. There is something very special about seeing art in the context that it was created for.

In the early 2000’s many architects and interior designers started to buy and renovate houses in the area.  I kept getting lost in little courtyards and side streets.  There was inspiration all around me and design elements that gave me some ideas for my Caribbean beach house project.

Below are a few of my favorite things:

How pretty is this packaging? I received a gift from this store on my birthday.  Erica’s daughter picked it out.  That five year-old has excellent taste.

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Photo: ortigiasicily.com

As someone who was raised Methodist, I’m still thrown by some of the more intense art in Catholic churches.  My childhood church had stained glass with images of things like Jesus chilling with some shepherds.

Here is the patron saint of Siracusa, Santa Lucia.

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Clever use of a satellite dish.

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Spiderman on the side of the Municipal Building representing the heroic spirit of the people. I’m trying to find out who the artist is and when the work was installed.

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Cool planter outside a house that faces the sea.

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Rome-based artist UNO and his latest installation.

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Also from Rome, Alice Pasquini.  Erica and I went to see her and UNO work on their murals. This is a school in Siracusa.

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The new and the old.

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I saw these fishing baskets all over my neighborhood.

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Love the door.

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And this gate.

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This alley showing a sliver of the sea was up the street.

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I’m thinking about my next trip. Maybe I should go to Palermo or Cefalù, or both.

Photos, unless noted otherwise, are by me and my iPhone.

I appreciate the majesty of the Hudson River and the cool blues of a lake in Maine but I’m a sea/ocean person.

It’s probably because I’ve spent the majority of my life living on the East and West Coasts of the United States and during the summer my family went to the Caribbean to see my grandparents. Even if I didn’t go to the ocean often, when I lived in Manhattan the beach was a summer situation only, I needed to know that it was close by.

Once I moved to Los Angeles, I had a car again. On Sundays I would load up my LL Bean tote bag with scripts for the infamous weekend read and head to El Matador Beach in Malibu. Working on Sundays wasn’t so bad with a view of the Pacific Ocean.

Sicily, Italy’s largest region, has 992 miles of coastline surrounded by the Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean, and Ionian seas.

Sunrise. Ortigia. The sea was a block away from my apartment.

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So were these rocks. Erica’s five year-old daughter asked me if I was going to jump in too. I told her I didn’t swim. She’s a great swimmer and was perplexed by my answer.

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Ortigia. Early morning swimmers.

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Siracusa. Three small trees on a cliff spotted during an early morning jog.

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Mt. Etna. View from the Monaci della Terra Nere boutique hotel on a cloudy morning.

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Salina. View of Stromboli.

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Salina. On the mountain near the village of Pollara.

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Salina. The San Lorenzo church in Malfa.

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Photos: Me and my iPhone

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