Archive

Tag Archives: Buon Viaggio

Over the summer my friend Annie invited me to spend the weekend at her in-laws.  They live in Fiuggi.  It’s only an hour south of Rome but at least a good ten degrees cooler.

I happened to visit during Fiuggi’s sagra.  It was outstanding.  When a large group of people started to do the Electric Slide, I fell out.  Seriously.  Here I was in a small hill town in the middle of Italy (I saw only one other black person there) and folks were doing this:

 

Another highlight of my weekend was our trip to Castello di Fumone, (aka Castello di Longhi).  The tour (in Italian) was very interesting.

The castle was built sometime between 244 – 455.   The name means “Big Smoke.”  The area was very strategic given its high elevation.  Large smoke signals were released to warn towns and cities as far away as Rome about invaders.

In 1584 Pope Sixtus V asked the noble Longhi family to take over the upkeep of the castle.  It had fallen on difficult times.  They did and brought it back to life.   Members of the family still live in the castle.

Castello di Fumone has one of the largest roof gardens in Europe and the views are spectacular.

There were many design elements for me to savor.  Annie probably got sick of me not keeping up with the group because I was too busy taking photos.

How gorgeous is this decorative wall painting? It represents the Longhi family’s crest and colors.  I could see a very cool wallpaper inspired by it.

IMG_3742IMG_3743

 

You know one of the buyers at Restoration Hardware has a photo of this chair on an inspiration board.

IMG_3708

Castello di Fumone was in the news after Pope Benedict abdicated his papacy.   He was the first pope to do so in seven hundred years and only the second pope to abdicate.

The first pope to resign was Pope Celestine V.    He was captured and locked up in a tiny cell in the castle by his predecessor.  He died ten months later at age eighty-six.

Annie and I could barely fit into the cell.  I pictured this old man sleeping on cold stone floors.   I guess his fate was better than the man who was buried alive in the castle walls.

Thanks to my excessive photo taking, I miss part of the tour in the archives room.  It was for the best.  Annie filled me in later.

In the 1800s Marquise Emilia Caetani Longhi had seven daughters.  She and her husband then had a son, Francesco.  His sisters, worried that they would be cut out of their inheritance (everything would go to the male heir), slowly poisoned him to death.  Nobody knew how he died until years later when one of the sisters confessed upon the death of her parents.

It is said that the ghosts of Francesco and his grieving mother can be heard wailing throughout the castle.

His body and some of his personal items are kept in a wooden cabinet.

Warning:  Photo of a mummified toddler below.

This freaked me out.

IMG_3724

IMG_3725

 

Portrait of Marquise Emilia Caetani Longhi

IMG_3726

I thought after hearing about poor Francesco, that would be it for gruesome stories and we could return to a discussion about all the incredible art.

That was not the case.  I noticed a well when we first walked into the castle.  I asked Annie about it and she said all would be explained later.

Apparently, back in the day brides had to see the Baron of the castle on their wedding night.  If they were not virgins (how the Baron would know/find out this information, I have not a clue), they would be thrown down the well.  WHAT IN THE WORLD?!

IMG_3738 There is a lot of history (and shenanigans) inside the walls of this castle.  Thanks, Annie for the organizing the trip!

 

 

I’ve been to Bologna once before for a very quick day trip with friends.   This time I went for work.

Bologna is consistently rated as one the most liveable cities on the planet.  The cuisine is amazing, there are many companies based in the area in a variety of sectors, and a well educated population (the oldest university in the Western world was founded in Bologna).

I knew this before I started researching my trip.  I didn’t know, however, that there were so many fantastic stores for interiors. I was in décor heaven and I could not get over how friendly everyone was.

My sister’s former colleague, John, is in Bologna writing his dissertation and we had lunch at Drogheria della Rosa.  It was just as delicious as I remembered and it’s one of John’s favorite restaurants in Bologna.

John was kind enough to bring me a bunch of shelter and cooking magazines from the States.  Later I met up with the lovely Tina for an aperitivo before catching the Italo train back to Rome.  It was a nice way to end a long but productive day.

I hope I will be able to return to Bologna soon.

Here are three of the showrooms I adored:

BORGO DELLA TOVAGLIE

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Housed in a former furrier’s workshop, this store blends design, art, and fashion.

Borgo delle Tovaglie began as a tablecloth manufacturer in the early ’90s.  In 2005 Valentina Muggia and her husband Giuliano Di Paolo bought the company.  Today the brand is internationally known for it’s quality and style.   

This is their first store and it’s a beauty. They carry a variety of brands in addition to their own.  There was so much to see (and buy).   I loved their plates in a bucket.  Very clever and useful.

Borgo delle Tovaglie

Via Farini, 10

+39 051-330938

www.borgodelletovaglie.com

CAMERA CON VISTA

Camera Con Vista

Camera Con Vista

This store is located in the very pretty Piazza Santo Stefano. Owned by Matteo and Rebecca, here you find one of kind objects from Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, and other countries.

They carry jaw-dropping antiques and stunning modern pieces that have been refurbished into furniture.

There are always new pieces coming in.  You never know what you might discover during your visit.

Camera Con Vista

Via Santa Stefano 14/2a

+39 051-22468

www.cameraconvista.biz

FABRIZIO COCCHI

Interior designer Fabrizio Cocchi’s showroom has an elegant, glamorous vibe.  It’s bold and full of color.  The photo below is of the neutral section.  When I first walked in, there was a lot of orange and red.

Cocchi also had quite the collection of design books.  I would have gladly sat on one of his custom sofas and read for the afternoon.

Okay, that would’ve been weird and rude as it’s a store not a library.

Fabrizio Cocchi

Fabrizio Cocchi

Photo: Fabriziococchi.com

Fabrizio Cocchi

Via Castiglione, 17d

+39 051-264358

www.fabriziococchi.com

“Soon Come.”

This Caribbean expression is very similar to the Italian word, domani.   Technically,  domani means tomorrow, but in Italy it could mean months or years from now.  The concept of time is very different.

Soon come is the same thing.

“When is your tio (uncle) visiting from the States?”

“Soon come.”

When I was a child, I assumed this meant that the gentleman would be on the next flight.  No, he may arrive tomorrow, or December 2013.

 

Yesterday, I met with my clients and their builder.  The house is moving along.

“When will the exterior be finished?”

“Soon come”.

It’s not easy to build on a tiny island thanks to the elements (hurricane season is no joke), sourcing of materials, and high labor costs.

Depending on a variety of factors out of my client’s hands, the house could be done in eight months or ???.

We’ll see.   Soon come.

My friend, Erica, has written a more in-depth post on Huffington Post about Rome based apps.  I’m writing about my top three.

I receive a lot of e-mails asking me where to eat in Rome.  I love to cook and have my favorite restaurants, but I’m by no means an expert.  Instead, I suggest people buy apps by Gillian McGuire, Katie Parla and Elizabeth Minchilli.  I’ve asked them why they decided to create their apps (which is a lot of work).  Thanks for responding, ladies!

Why buy an app?  For one, they are updated frequently.  Some guidebooks become outdated the moment they are published.  Also, these apps are written by people who really know this city.  They live here.  They see the vendors they write about, know the chef/cooks at the restaurants, and capture the city in a way that someone on short term assignment cannot do.

I think they are an invaluable resource.  There are a lot of restaurants, gelato places, coffee shops, etc. here and yes, it is possible to have a bad meal in Rome. With these apps, the chances of that happening are greatly reduced.

EAT ROME by Elizabeth Helman Minchilli.  When Elizabeth was twelve her family moved to Rome.  She returned for good while studying in Florence for her dissertation.  Elizabeth has written books on design and has been writing about food, design, and travel for various publications for twenty years.  One of my favorite features of her app is the comment section. It’s great to read everyone’s experiences at various restaurants.   Elizabeth does respond to feedback which helps keep the app up to date.

“I’m a big believer in embracing all of the technical innovations that are happening in publishing. While I’ve always been happy to write for magazines, newspapers and book publishers (and continue to do so) I love the possibility that blogs and apps present. They give me not only much more control over the content, but allow exciting and extremely helpful direct contact with my readers.”

ROME FOR FOODIES by Katie Parla.   Katie grew up in the Garden State (aka New Jersey).  She started working in restaurants from a young age and moved to Rome in 2003 after graduating from college. Since her move, Katie has earned a sommelier certificate (FISAR) and an MA in the Cultura Gastronomica Italiana (Universita’ degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”). Katie has has written several guide books and writes about food and travel for a number of publications. The Katie’s Picks section is great.  She has a very specific POV when it comes to food and doesn’t hold back her opinions.

“I decided to develop and app for a few reasons. I wanted to experiment with new media, find a new way to connect with readers, and monetize blog content. I had the app re-developed in order to introduce concepts of branding and improve user interface.”

ROME FOR EXPATS by Gillian McGuire.  Gillian has lived in Rome for seven years.  Prior to her move, she and her family lived in several African countries.  Her expats friends call her “The Source” for a reason.   I’ve included an expat app because there are people who travel to Rome and rent apartments and/or stay for an extended period.  If you need to know where to find an English speaking dentist, or a hairdresser, cilantro, or maybe you’re dying for a bagel, or looking for a personal trainer (to help burn off that bagel), this is the app for you.

“First, I love an assignment, so I found I was often asked the question “where can I find… x?

And second, in my seven years of living in Rome I had compiled quite a list. I partnered with the Sutro Media team and created Rome for Expats as an easy to access resource of all of that information”
Buon eating!

My first trip to southern France was incredible.  My friend’s boss invited me to join them on his yacht. At first I wasn’t sure about going since I didn’t have a film at the festival and I had nothing to wear.

I like to have a plan. What exactly would I do in Cannes? My friend told me to get a grip as the trip was completely paid for.  She had a point.

I’m very glad I said yes.  Our host was lovely.  Being a good host (and a good guest) is not something everyone knows how to do.  I’m not sure why this is as there are a billion magazine articles and books on etiquette.

The attention to detail was impressive.  The crew went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable. The chef was OUTSTANDING.  I ate well and drank some great wines.

On the first day, the water was extremely choppy. It calmed down by the evening and I had no problems sleeping.  it was so quiet (unlike my darn neighborhood).   The décor of my en suite cabin (and the yacht in general) was fantastic, very classic and understated.  It felt like a home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was nice, and surreal, to catch up with some Hollywood friends. There were multiple celebrity sightings.  I did slip into a little funk after one exec said something bitchy to me.  My friend and her husband cheered me up and reminded me why I left L.A. in the first place.  Also, a good friend back in Rome told me to remember where I was staying and to forget about that miserable snobby person.  Which is what I did as I drank some rosé.

On Friday we drove to St. Tropez.  The traffic was bananas but it was worth it.  We had a delicious lunch at Le Club 55.   It was great people watching.  Later, I read that during July and August the whole beach becomes quite the scene.  When we were there the restaurant was packed with local families looking like the wealthy French version of J. Crew.

The sun came out during lunch and we drove back with the top down.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.

The village of St. Tropez is charming.  I would love to go back and spend more time there.

There were many highlights during my short trip (French bread, excellent bath products, jogging through Cannes early in the morning) but the best thing about it was spending time with my friends.

I went to Cannes last week for the film festival as a guest of my friend’s boss.   I cannot get this song out of my head.  It plays during the trailer of the new Wes Anderson movie, “Moonrise Kingdom”, which was the opening film of the festival.

The first time I saw the trailer I was worried the movie would be too “twee”.  There’s a reason Anderson is one of the most polarizing film directors working in Hollywood today.  I bumped into a film critic last week who told me the movie really moved him (after the first half hour) and I’ve heard the performances are great.

My parents had several Hardy records when I was growing up, but I was trying to fit into suburban America and wasn’t checking for a singer from France.   Now, like many other things my Caribbean parents liked, I get it.

Here’s the “Moonrise Kingdom” trailer.

This was the first time I’ve been in Milan for longer than 24 hours and only my second visit.  I had a great, yet exhausting, trip.

I do realize I saw the city at its most happening.   I will write a separate post about Milan. I cannot wait to return.

The Salone (April 17-22) is one of the most important and popular design exhibitions in the world.

Over 300,000 people attend and there are events all over the city.   Fiera Milano Rho was the main exhibit hall. It’s massive.  I was shocked at how organized everything was.  It’s not easy to put on an event of this scale.

Listed below are a few of my favorite things from the Salone 2012.

The bathroom and kitchen exhibitions at RHO:

The Miele and Bosch cooking demonstrations.

The Diesel/Scavolini kitchen collaboration.

SMEG refrigerators with denim covers.

In the Center:

MERCI pop-up store – located in a courtyard off Via Tortona, the Parisian concept store was packed.

Idarica Gazzoni – This Italian textile designer is one of my favorite artists.  I love her use of color.

Paola C. – The studio spotlights young international artists working in glass, ceramics, and metals. The Foxy pitcher won the Wallpaper Design Award in 2011.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Boffi – I had no idea their bathroom line was so extensive.  I could’ve stayed in the showroom for hours.

Dimore Studio – This interior, furniture and lighting design firm had one of the most beautiful spaces of the Salone.  No photos were allowed.  I saw some people sneaking shots anyway, which I thought was kind of rude.

Dedar – The firm where I interned used Dedar’s fabrics frequently.  Having the opportunity to visit the showroom was a highlight of my trip.  Their Hermès collaboration is everything.

Alessi – The Piana chair designed by David Chipperfield.

I just got back yesterday and I’m still processing my trip.  Now comes the downside of traveling, unpacking.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,856 other followers