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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.

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The views were spectacular.  Sunset.

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

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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?”

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Seriously, NOBODY was around.

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The top of this well, stylish simplicity.

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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.

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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.

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Martina pours some Prosecco.

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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.

 

 

And what a view it is.

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One of my friends just returned to Rome from visiting the States and she kindly picked up a copy of VERANDA magazine for me.  It’s not an easy magazine to find in Rome (in Milan, yes).

Brooke Giannetti’s Velvet & Linen blog is fantastic.  She has a very large following and has posted a few photos in the past of the home she is building in Ojai, California with her architect husband Steve.

It’s so interesting to me that this a new build, yet their home has the warmth and vibe of a house that has been in a family for generations.  You can read more about Brooke and Steve’s Patina Farm journey, here.

One day I would love to have a tub/shower like this.   Love it.  Of course it’s only possible if there are no neighbors close by.  A friend here has an outdoor shower on his terrace.  He lives in Trastevere and the upper floors of a church and another palazzo are right across the narrow street.  The man has no screens.  Yeah, no.

To see more photos, go to VERANDA’s website.

 

Borghetto Flaminio is not as well known as the famous Porto Portese market.  The latter has more furniture but Flaminio is the market to check out for authentic vintage/used designer clothes and interesting tableware.

As with any flea market there could be some fakes, but this market has a good reputation.  Many of the vendors are regulars. If they were selling fake Prada, Gucci, Hermès, etc. the word would get out pretty quickly.

Borghetto Flaminio is tiny. I suggest getting there early. It’s packed with fantastic finds.  I hadn’t been there in years so when my friend, artist and florist Marta, suggested we check it out, I was ready.

A cool tea set from the 40s.

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Lovely monogrammed vintage linen.

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A taste of Hermès.  This was the most popular vendor in the market.  They also had some drop dead gorgeous vintage Gucci, Valentino, Prada, and Fendi bags.

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Love this Murano glass set from the 60s.

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Marta was VERY excited about this patent leather Prada bag.

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Sundays (except holidays)

Piazza della Marina, 32
Sundays, 10AM – 7PM
€1.60 entrance fee

From mid-September to mid-July

Design blogs blew up this week when the news hit that Patone’s color for 2015 was Marsala.

I enjoy cooking with Marsala wine.   I really do but I must agree with majority and say, “what is this madness?!”

This color reminds me of Dusty Rose from the ’80s.  Not a good look.

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Could someone please explain to me what is going on in the picture below.  What is Pantone trying to say?

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The gentleman in the apron looks salty.  Why? Perhaps he’s not feeling the color either.

I’m very curious to see how this color choice plays out in fashion and home décor trends next year.   I don’t think it’s an easy color to wear.  For the home, I love the color of Marsala wine which is a deeper burgundy than this color.  That rich color would be fantastic.

 

Many people back in the States have asked me what I’m doing on Thursday.

I’m working.  Thanksgiving is an American holiday.

If I had an oven/kitchen/apartment bigger than a shoebox, I would host a Thanksgiving dinner but on Saturday (which is what the majority of expats do here).

My future apartment will have more space and I will entertain more.

In the meantime, I can admire these lovely plates that would be perfect for my Thanksgiving dinners.

For an informal table:

The Marbury Dinnerware Collection from Crate and Barrel.  You can put a charger underneath with more color or a pattern.

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The Charlotte Street Collection from Kate Spade.  I had to have at least one white plate with blue trim.

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The Eclectique Dinner plate from Williams-Sonoma.   It’s a pretty dish made in France.

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For a more formal table:

The Renaissance Collection by Wedgewood.    A classic.

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Anmut Platinum by Villeroy & Boch.   One word… elegant.

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The American Dinner plate by Hermès.    The blues are gorgeous.

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Hmmm, not seeing a lot of variety here.

I do appreciate china with flowers but for my table I tend to keep it simple because my floral arrangements are colorful.  Also, I like to mix and match my dinnerware.  Having plates in a similar color palette makes the table more cohesive.

For those who are celebrating, I hope you have a fantastic and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I’m naive but I believe good design incorporates a space that functions well.

This is why I completely disagree with the finale (SPOILERS ahead) of the NBC show “American Dream Builders”.  Looking at their Facebook page, I’m not the only one.

Earlier, I wrote about why I enjoyed the show.

They should change the name of the show because there was nothing about Lukas’s beach house that worked for the clients.

The job of a decorator/interior designer is to address the needs of the client.  He did not do that.   All Lukas talked about was his vision. He is talented but Jay should have won.

On what planet is it a good idea to paint a beach house in SOUTHERN California black?  It’s not edgy.  A black shingled house in Maine, or Martha’s Vineyard, that could be cool.  Does Lukas know that that the light is different in New England compared to the Southern Californian  Coast? One of the judges said the house looked like it had been in a fire.

Also, Lukas did not deal with any of the design flaws of his house.  That kitchen was awkward.

This a beach house for a multigenerational family.  Their reaction at the reveal was priceless.  I adore mid-century design and would use it in a beach house but would mix it up.

Nate kept saying Lukas was forward-thinking.  Has Nate ever been to IKEA? I know he has traveled to Europe.  This beach house would work for a single person with no kids who never entertains.

Nate raved about Lukas’s $30 chandelier.   Again, this is in a beach house.  I go to a beach house to relax.   Who’s going to clean it and replace the light bulbs?  It’s not functional.

This room.  Where are the young children going to hang out?

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Nice to look at.  Wouldn’t want to sit there for a long meal.   What is that statue about in the corner?

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Not relaxing.  These chairs would be fab in a loft apartment, not at the beach.

View More: http://americandreambuilders.pass.us/adbif the Neighborhood Council voted for the finale winner, Jay would’ve won hands down.    Elaine was eliminated for her red family room because it didn’t fit the décor of the rest of the house, but Lukas can win the whole competition for this house?  Please.

If they didn’t want a home builder to win, don’t put them in the competition.

I don’t know if the series has been renewed for a second season.  It’s a shame that the finale was such a disappointment but I enjoyed the earlier episodes.

 

 

 

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.

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