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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.

Photos: Me and my iPhone.

 

 

I’ve read about La Bandita, a country house near Pienza and have seen photos of it in various shelter magazines/design articles.

A little over a year ago, John Voigtmann and his wife Ondine Cohane opened La Bandita Townhouse converting a former convent in center of Pienza into a 12-room boutique hotel.

My friend Gillian and husband stayed there recently.  She told me I had to see it in person.  Gillian knows my taste and said I would love it.

She was correct.  I know people are sick and tired of decorators using words like swoon! obsessed! and dying! when describing interiors.  However, let me say, I swooned when I saw my room. I was obsessed with the design of the kitchen and was dying over the views.

I’ve written before about the mix.  It’s something you see frequently in French and Italian interiors.  It’s not easy to pull off.  Sometimes the space is too modern for the architecture and it feels cold.  Or the design is so faithful to the past, it’s dated.

Working with Florence based architects, Arianna Pieri and Ernesto Bartolini of DA.Studio, John and Ondine have created a lovely space. In a hotel, all the beauty in the world doesn’t mean a thing if the service is awful. It was fantastic and I will write about a post about that and Pienza soon.

I absolutely adore this type of décor.  The same architects worked on Monteverdi with interiors by Ilaria Miani.

i found out that one of the main resources for La Bandita Townhouse was the store Barthel.  No wonder it spoke to me as we sourced most of the items for the bathrooms in our Tuscany project from Barthel.

This was my room, number 12.  I arrived late afternoon.  The amount of light during the day is unreal.  I love that they retained the stone wall.  The view from the tub was sick.  The Ortigia products were a nice touch, as were the free water and soda in the mini-bar.

In my next apartment I would like a canopy bed. The colors, the lighting, the bed linens, I really didn’t want to leave this room after two days.

I have to ask if they have a room with a desk, because La Bandita is a perfect spot for writers.

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Tears of happiness when i saw this huge shower stall.  I really need to move.

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Gorgeous.  The main hallway is the first thing you see when you walk thru the door. The convent dates from the 1400s.

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Again, stone walls.  A lot of natural materials with pops of orange throughout.

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This kitchen is everything.  In the States open-plan kitchens are preferred but not in Italy (or the Caribbean).  Notice the overhead window over the bar?  It drops down.  Once you close the door on the left of the bar, you have a closed kitchen that lets in light.   A friend of mine, who lives in a loft in Rome, did something very similar.  It’s a brilliant idea.

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An old map of Italy in the library/lounge.

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I was very excited to see so many classic LPs in different genres. I could’ve stayed up all night listening to music.  I still have some vinyl and for my next apartment (I know, I know) I will buy a turntable.

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You know how I feel about books and magazines.  It was freezing outside.  It was nice to curl up on the sofa and just chill.

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John is former music industry executive.  Some of his gold records sit on top of the bookcase.

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Aperitivi time!

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John has said he and Ondine wanted to create a beautiful, comfortable hotel where people could come to relax and enjoy Tuscany. They have. La Bandita is a special place. I cannot wait to return during warmer weather so I can eat outside on their fantastic terrace.

Photos: (except for the one of the kitchen and of the bookcase) me and my iPhone.

Click HERE to see more from La Bandita’s great photo gallery.

La Bandita Townhouse

Corso Il Rossellino, 111
Pienza (SI) 53026
Toscana, Italia
Tel +39 0578 749 005
info@la-bandita.com

 

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.

 

I cannot believe it’s Christmas 2014 already. Where did this year go?

In a sea filled with awful news (I really need to ease up on how much I watch and read everyday), it’s good to be reminded of joyous things.

Last Friday my friend, Gina, invited me to meet her, Rachel, and Elizabeth at their friend Alice’s holiday pop-up bakery.  Alice Is a food stylist and cook.  Her gingerbread cookies were delicious.  I wonder if it’s possible to order some during the off season.  I must investigate.

I loved the simple decorations, the Prosecco, and most importantly, sharing them with friends old and new.

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It’s not easy to be far away from my family during the holidays, but I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible group of friends.

Merry Christmas!!

 

For me the day after Thanksgiving has nothing to do with shopping. It means I can start playing Christmas carols.

This probably comes as a shock to people who don’t know me well, as I appear to be a person who loves to shop.  It’s even part of my job.

However, the whole Black Friday thing always left a bad taste in my mouth.  While Short Hills Mall is one of my favorite places in America, I’d rather listen to Izzy Azalea on a continuous loop than go there on the day after Thanksgiving.

We don’t have such a thing in Italy and I don’t see it happening anytime soon.  The concept of standing/waiting in line is completely foreign, even in places (like the post office) where we’re supposed to.

One thing that is also popular here, are street lights.  This week crews were putting them up all over town.

In my neighborhood, Campo de Fiori, we have these:

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I adore the simplicity of them.

Now, I’m off to play some of my favorite holiday jams.

Buon weekend!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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