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Italy

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

Today is Festa della Repubblica in Italy.  It’s similar to July 14th in France or the 4th of July in the United States of America.   It’s a three day weekend.  While most of my friends went out of town, I stayed behind in the city.

I’ve just returned from checking in on my Anguilla project.  Before I left, the weather in Rome was awful… constant rain and chilly.

Now, summer is here.  The days are getting longer and folks have busted out their white jeans.

I used to avoid white jeans because I thought my thighs were too “thick” for them.  I now know it’s all about the cut and what I’m wearing as a top.

I love this summer look.  It’s so stylish and simple.  Below are five favorites:

The one, the only, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

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The lovely Garance Doré photographed by her man, Scott Schuman (aka The Satorialist).

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Zoe Saldana.  Really like the color of her blazer.

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Photo: trendmill.com

Geraldine Saglio from FRENCH VOGUE.  Those shoes!

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Photo: gastrochic.com

Molto chic.

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Photo: thebestfashionblog.com

I’ve written before about my fascination with abandoned houses.

On Via del Governo Vechhio there’s an empty palazzo that I’ve walked by many times.  Unlike some other big cities I’ve lived in, there are very few vacant buildings in the center of Rome.  So much so that they truly stand out.

One morning I noticed there were riot police at the end of the block.  The doors of the building were opened and there was a large group of protesters inside.  They were demanding that the county (which owns the property) renovate the space into affordable housing.  I doubt that will happen given the location, red tape, and costs.

Built in the late 1400s by Cardinal Stefano Nardiini, I had to check it out.

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I had no idea that this building was so large.

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I hope something wonderful happens with this space.  It’s a shame that it’s just sitting there, empty.

When certain people get on their high horse and say they never watch reality TV because everything sucks, in my head, I’m rolling my eyes.  That’s similar to saying they don’t read novels because FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was terrible.

As with any form of entertainment, there are great reality shows and then the ones that are pure garbage.  Regarding the latter I’m not talking about the ones that are so bad they’re good, but are truly awful.  They’re either boring or showcase the worst stereotypes of the protagonists.

I tend to watch shows where people are making something or doing something, like TOP CHEF, PROJECT RUNWAY, CAKE BOSS, MASTERCHEF ITALIA,  ONE BRYK AT A TIME, CERCO CASA DISPERATAMENTE,  (hmm lots of cooking and decorating shows), etc.

Since SKY Cable dropped the E! channel, my reality show intake has dropped.  That channel used to air most of the Bravo shows.  Tears.

THE FACE, the USA version, started airing in Italy a few months ago on Sky Uno.  I missed the first few episodes.  During one rainy (basta!) Sunday afternoon I happened to catch two episodes and I was hooked.

The format of this show is brilliant.  The wanna-be models are broken up into three teams with one of the supermodels coaching them.

Of course, nobody would watch a show that was all about rainbows and unicorns, so yes there is drama.  Naomi played to win and Coco and Karolina sometimes seemed like they didn’t know what hit them.

The UK version, which is currently on the air, is a little different.  Erin and Caroline give Naomi a run for her money.

I don’t understand why Tyra fired noted photographer™  Nigel Barker and Miss J.  I was so glad to see Nigel on the USA version of THE FACE.

Could someone please hook up Miss J. with a show?

 

 

 

Yesterday the UN, and people all over the world, celebrated International Day of Happiness.

Given all the horrible things happening here on planet Earth, it would be very easy to shrug and think there’s nothing to be happy about.

Sometimes when I’m in a very good mood, I get a little freaked out.  Why am I in a good mood?  I should be cynical, depressed, and anxious.   It’s as if I have no right to be happy.   I meet a lot of expats in Rome.  Many are not happy and are suspicious of those who are.  Being happy is not “keeping it real.”  We end up fueling each others’ fire.

One of my dear friends said I should avoid miserable people.  Why get sucked into their constant negativity and pessimism?   True, we all have bad days, weeks, even months, but as I get older I find I have less patience for people who complain ALL the time but never do anything to change/improve their situation.

I tend to worry a lot, mostly about my future.  How will I pay my bills?  Will my business continue to grow?  Will I ever be fluent in Italian? Why is Drake so popular?   I lie awake at night and dwell on things I have no control over.  This is not healthy and I’m working on it.

When I’m happy it’s not because anything has really changed.  I still have the same bills, worries, and issues.  However, sometimes I do remember that I am extremely fortunate in ways that cannot be measured in dollars or euros.

It won’t be easy but I’m going to try my best to do the opposite of what I normally do, which is to worry and complain.

Another friend proclaimed that this was going to be a great year.  Based on what?  Nothing.  She believes it and therefore is going to do everything in her power to make it so.

I like the why she thinks.

Buon weekend!

(I adore this video.  I have to restrain myself from dancing when I hear this song while jogging.)

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