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Italy has a special place in my heart. As an Italian American, I feel a connection with the people and the food. I also love it because one of my best friends from college lived in Torino for years. I’ve been to Italy more than any other country. This was my sixth sojourn and it was as incredible as my first. Venice and Lake Como have been on my list of places I wanted to visit for years. This trip was full of nostalgia and adventure which to me, equals a fantastic vacation.

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Our first stop was Venice. All of my friends told me I would hate Venice; that it’d be crowded and smelly. While is was overrun by hordes of tourists (which I did hate), I loved the quiet corners. I especially enjoyed the Airbnb we rented on the Grand Canal. Sitting on the balcony watching the boats gave me a glimpse into the daily life of a Venetian. We didn’t see any of the major tourist sites. Instead we wandered the streets of Venice and took a ferry to Burano. In Burano, I had grand plans for us to eat lunch at Da Ramano but it was closed for the August holidays. We also intended to ogle the the colorful buildings. Except it was too damn hot. Italy was having an unprecedented heat wave when we visited. Sweating a lot was a daily occurrence, as were stops for apertivos and Aperol Spritzes. After 2 nights and 1 full day in Venice, we hopped in our rental car and drove to Lake Como.

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Lake Como was impressive. We stayed in Como at a swanky apartment complex that overlooked the lake. Of course the unit we rented had a view of the garden and the apartment building next door. Since we were only there to sleep and cool off occasionally, our view didn’t matter. If I ever go again, I’d stay further north in Cernobbio or Varenna.

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Unfortunately, even though the average temperatures were supposed to be in the high 70-80’s in Como, it was 90+. We distracted ourselves by taking the funicular up the mountain. It was a gorgeous ride and the view was incredible.

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We did a “hike” (it was really a 20 minute walk up a hill), stumbled across this wonderful shrine and then stopped for an apertivo.

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We also took the ferry to Bellagio which was quaint and picturesque. While in Bellagio, the “great ferry adventure” took place. To get anywhere in Lake Como, you take ferries. You can take a fast ferry or a slow ferry. The day we went to Bellagio, we took the fast ferry. As we were waiting for the return ferry, we were told the fast ferry broke. The next ferry was in another two hours and we had already explored all parts of Bellagio. I didn’t want to wait two more hours so we hopped the slow ferry. It was supposed to take two hours. Instead it took three and the slow ferry broke too which required a boat switch. While it sounds complicated and terrible, this was actually my favorite part of the trip. We visited thirteen little towns around Lake Como. I had a seat in the shade with an incredible breeze. The scenery was incredible. I can’t imagine a better way to kill a couple of hours.

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Our last stop on the trip was a small town an hour outside of Venice called Padua. Padua was my second favorite part of our adventure. We stayed at a boutique hotel near the historic center of town. While the interior was modern, the exterior was a historic house surrounded by cobblestone streets. The staff was lovely and helpful. We only had a half day in Padua and we had grand plans to go see Padua’s famous frescos. When we started to wander around in search of lunch, we quickly realized the frescos weren’t going to happen. Padua was too charming and we had exploring to do.

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The main thoroughfare was lined with porticos and shops. As we walked along the streets, we glanced into the store fronts and realized almost everything was closed during the afternoon. Even though Italy isn’t known for siesta, it was clear by the deserted streets everyone was staying inside during the hottest part of the day. We were the only idiots wandering around in the 100 degree heat. We ducked into a pizzeria for lunch and had one of our best meals. Padua was the only place we visited that wasn’t overrun by tourists. The menus were in Italian (yes!), the restaurant was full of Italians (double yea!) and finally, we had a peek into the real Italy. It instantly reminded me of my visits to Turino. Padua also had the most incredible street art. This was my favorite. It’s so clever!

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While I don’t regret one iota of my trip, I came away with a couple of realizations. 1. We won’t be traveling at the end of July or in August unless we’re going to somewhere that’s not hot. The heat made things difficult. Already percolating in my mind is a trip to Copenhagen, Ireland or Scotland next summer. Germany is also on the short list since we had friends move there recently. 2. I enjoy the road less traveled. While I’m thrilled I was able to experience Venice and Lake Como, I don’t like the generic tourist experience. I don’t find it authentic or fun. 3. Adventure is good for the soul. I’m thankful I was able to get out of here for a week and away from the omnipresent news cycle. What’s happening in our country makes me weary.

 

 

 

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616 E lr

One of my client’s is renting his 1 bedroom condo at the Clara Barton in Penn Quarter.  Details below.

616 E St., NW #422
Washington, DC 20004
822 sf
rent | $2350.00
1 bedroom condo with an open floor plan, wide plank floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and an in-unit w/d. Building amenities include 24 hour front desk, business center, movie room, gym, rooftop with gas grills and a pool. Rental parking available. No pets or smokers. 93 walk score.  Minutes to Penn Quarter restaurants/retail, the National Mall and the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro (red, green & yellow lines). Tenant pays for electric, cable internet. Available September 1, 2017. Click here for the virtual tour.
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midcity 18th annual dog days

Don’t forget it’s the MidCity Dog Days Sidewalk Sale this weekend.  It’s the 18th year and a great way to support local business. It’s going to be lovely weather this weekend. Go check it out!

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vencie

Tomorrow, I’m hopping a flight to Italy to spend 7 days visiting Venice, Lake Como and Padua. I can’t wait!

We’re spending 2 days in Venice (this will be my view from the Airbnb we’re renting!), then 3 days in Lake Como and 1 day in Padua. I’ve never visited this part of Italy and these places have been on my “to see” list for years.

Any suggestions??

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life via instagram july

Why hello! After a lovely 4th of July at the beach with my family, I’m back in DC and trying to survive the heat.  There’s nothing like showing property in 98 degree heat and humidity.  Uf.

What have you been doing?  Any good vacations coming up?

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2125 14th ext

2125 14th St NW #330

1 bed + den + parking

list price | $609,000

sold price | $605,000

I represented the buyer in the purchase of this condo. I’m pleased to announce we negotiated $4,000 off the original list price.  It’s almost never happens in the DC market and I’m thrilled for my client.

2125 14th st lr

This is the 4th time this year I’ve negotiated money off the list price for my buyers.  Does it mean the market is softening?  A little. I think some sellers have dollar signs in their eyes and they’re pricing too high.  It’s a bit of a correction.

2125 14th kit

On the other hand, the last 3 offers I’ve written had multiple offers. In 2 of those situations, the home had over 8 offers! I know..the market here is nuts!

Contact me if you want to buy or sell.  As you can see, I know the ins and outs of the market and I’d love to help you.

 

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happy 4th of july!!

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I’m spending the holidays with my family at the beach and it’s been wonderful.  It’s hot as hades but frequent bike rides have helped. I hope your 4th was fab!

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summer reading

4th of july reads

School is over and vacation season is in full swing. Interested in a few books for your down time? These seven books are what I’ve liked lately.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel.  What do you do when your 5 year old boy wants to be a girl? This insightful, beautifully written novel explores the topic without sensationalism.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. Twelve years after his wife has disappeared, Gil spots her outside a book store. What unfolds next is a tale of a family torn apart by her disappearance and what really happened.

The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansk.  A lost painting brings together two women who form an unlikely friendship.

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi. When your seemingly well adjusted mother commits suicide, some unsettling truths emerge.

The Girl Before by JP Delany. A psychological thriller with an unexpected ending. I also read The Couple Next Door and Behind Closed Doors. The Girl Before is the best out of the three.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. A mindbending sci-fi thriller.  You know I love sci-fi and this is the best one I’ve read this year.

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak. A book about love and betrayal in your early 20’s. It perfectly captures that time of indecision immediately after college when you’re trying to adult.

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master bathroom before after entry

After months of planning and three weeks of construction, the master bathroom renovation is done! I am thrilled with the results and the photos speak for themselves.

before after vanity2

The biggest change was transforming the shower stall into a vanity for my husband.  While it was never a hardship to share one vanity, having two is superb. There are many things I love about the new vanities: there’s a medicine cabinet! Two drawers of storage! My favorite is the One Forty Three light. I love color but kept the finishes neutral. The light is my one pop of color and it makes me smile. One Forty Three made them in a custom size and color but they were still affordable at $175 each.

before after mb vanitiy1

A million times better, right?  The bathroom feels larger and the amount of storage we gained is insane. I *actually* don’t have enough stuff to put in the medicine cabinet, vanity drawers and the tall cabinet near the tub.

before after tub

For the floors, I used a 14″ x 16″ porcelain tile by Storka. For the tub and the vanity alcoves, I used a 1.9″ x 7.8″ matte white subway tile laid vertically.  I can’t find a link for it but it came from Home Depot. I also added 2 overhead 9″ LED lights from ylighting.  The faucets and shower are by Moen, the Eva line.

Next on the agenda is adding art and accessories.

Shout out to Justin Mattice of Mattice Designs for taking my ideas and making them into a reality. He was instrumental in sourcing the tile, cabinets, and vanities. He also really patient with my 8000 questions and concerns.

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5 lessons from my Dad

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“Five Lessons from My Dad” is something I wrote a couple of years ago. While I rarely look backwards, many of my life decisions have revolved around these lessons and it’s worth revisiting. Happy Father’s Day!

Just like my Mom, my Dad taught me valuable lessons about life.  When you’re growing up, you’re not thinking about what your parents are teaching you.  You’re thinking “Man..this is so dumb.  Why are we talking about this again?”  (This was constantly running through my head while in middle/high school along with: “Why do I have to stop reading to listen to this?”)  In honor of my pops and Father’s Day, here are five things my Dad taught me.

Be kind.  This sounds like a no brainer but I’m constantly surprised by people’s bad behavior. It’s one of the tenets of my personality and a lot of days, it’s hard. Everyday there’s someone I want to blast but I don’t.  (Most of the time.  I’m not perfect and I complain a lot instead).

Be on time or early.  My Dad taught me that being late is rude.  It conveys a message to the person you’re meeting that their time isn’t important.  I’m always punctual and when I’m late, it stresses me out.

Pay your bills on time.  This lesson was one of the best things my Dad taught me.  I always had a job at our restaurant when I was growing up. When I got my first bills in college, my Dad made certain I knew the importance of paying bills on time and how it led to good credit. Having good credit has been instrumental in my adulthood when purchasing cars and my home.

Work hard and you shall achieve.  When I was growing up, my Dad worked incessantly. When I was little and we lived in Northern Virginia, he was a teacher, a painter, a driver’s ed teacher and a photographer.  He worked hard to provide my brother and me with a great childhood.  It also led to a beach house and a wonderful retirement.

Your actions say it all.  My Dad was an excellent athlete.  He still has football records that remain unbroken in his home state of WV.  When my brother and I played sports when were younger, he taught us  actions always speak louder than words. While I don’t play sports any longer, I apply this lesson daily to both my personal and professional life.

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gift guide fathers dayI can’t believe it’s Father’s Day this weekend! Here’s a few gift options that will please any of the men in your life.

j’s hot sauce four pack sampler   This is my friend Jason’s hot sauce company.  It’s delicious and for those who love hot sauce, it’s no joke! Especially #4.  It makes my husband break into a sweat every time he eats it.

grill tool set  The grilling essentials and it comes in different colors.  I’m getting orange because my Dad’s high school colors were orange and black.

kamado charcoal grill and smoker  New grill tools to use on a new grill and smoker.

bacon subscription Bacon is never bad! especially if you love blt’s. yum.

 

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chevron doorOn Friday, my husband and I took the train to Philly to visit with some cousins.  It was fast and furious but tons of fun.

My cousin took Friday off and set up an epic walking tour of the city. We explored a couple of new (to us) neighborhoods like Fishtown and Northern Liberties. This crazy door is the entrance to Frankford Hall, one of the many beer gardens that populate Philly. We also stopped off at the La Columbe and grabbed a snack from Snap Kitchen.

Side note: I’m fascinated by Snap Kitchen. It’s a fast casual, healthy meal shop and I can eat the majority of the stuff in there.  Do you know HOW EXCITING that is???  I asked if they were going to open on in DC and they said “real estate is expensive”.  Le sigh.  Anyway..I tried their Silken Chocolate Mousse and it was delicious.  Imagine-Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free mousse and it was actually *delicious*.  See why I got excited?

minima

My cousin also knows how much I love decor shops and took us to one of his favorites, Minima. This store is incredible! FYI-they said a lot of their clients live in DC.  If this type of furniture is your jam, check out their website or better yet, go visit.

poppies

On Saturday, there was an art fair in Rittenhouse Square. We meandered through the show and my favorite part was the poppies. Next we did some shopping. Just like on our last trip to Philly, we hit Joan Shep, EYEsite and Egan Day.  Do not miss these shops next time you’re visiting.  They’re so fun!

In between all the walking and shopping, we also ate and drank well. We had lunch at High Street on Market (my husband LOVED his roasted pork with fermented broccoli rabe sandwich), cocktails at Circa Green and dinner at Veda. 

While it was a whirlwind trip (we were there a a little over 24 hours..I had to work on Sunday) we had a blast. Thanks for showing us your city, cousins!!

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