vencie canals800

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.

venice streets800

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.

lake como water800

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.

como trees800

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.

como funiculare800

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.

shrine como800

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.

bellagio800

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.

padua800

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!

street art800

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.

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

cherry blossom1

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is March 15th-April 16th this year.  The blossoms are at their peak this week and absolutely beautiful. The Blossom Kite Festival is this Saturday, April 1st.  I went yesterday with my Mom and it was stunning.

cherry blossom2

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

Holiday Market

It’s that time of year again! The downtown Holiday Mart is in full swing. I love jumping on the Metro, grabbing lunch and strolling through the Mart in search of gifts. The vendors are regional artisans and I always find something unique. They’re open noon to 8pm daily until December 23rd.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

roosterIn October, the National Gallery of Arts east building reopened after a 3 year renovation.  I’m a huge fan of modern art and I couldn’t wait to visit again.

First, I had to check out the blue rooster on the new roof terrace.  As you can see, it’s enormous and funny.  Next, the famous I.M. Pei stairs.

stairs

Then I visited some of my favorite modern art pieces and checked out the new purchases. NGA is now letting you take photos (no flash, please) and I loved it! Inspiration for days.

abstract

rothko

warhol

Art: Hans Hofmann, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

marvinDC is a town that loves to brunch. A lot folks go for the boozy brunch were you can drink bottomless mimosas and bloody mary’s. My focus is on the food and I have a handful of favorites. You’ll notice most are in my ‘hood or within walking distance. When I don’t have to work, I like to leave the car at home and enjoy the city on foot. Enjoy!

marvinMarvin’s brunch menu is concise but it has a number of delicious options. The chicken and waffle is one of my husband’s favorites. I like the huevos rancheros (homemade tortillas…yum) or the egg sandwich on a waffle bun.

Pearl-Dive

One of my favorite items on Pearl Dive’s brunch menu is their insane homemade donuts. They change daily and they’re delectable. I’m also partial to the scrambled eggs and cayenne grits. My husband’s favorite is the eggs benedict with the country ham. Of course there’s always oysters!

le diplomateBrunch at Le Diplomate is an event.  It’s crazy crowded but there’s no better place to swill rosé and people watch. My favorite is the Niçoise salad that features confit tuna. I could eat it everyday.  Another yummy option is the daily quiche.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

miami-sailboatsAfter finally getting back to the US, my husband and I were stuck in Miami for four days.  I know..my life is full of hardship. While DC was being buried in snow, I was strolling around Miami enjoying more sand and sun.

standard-pool

I used the Hotel Tonight app to book us at The Standard. I loved the pool and the spa but the room was tiny and loud. Most of the time, you’re in Miami for sun and fun so tiny and loud doesn’t matter. Since we were stuck, it didn’t go over as well.  Would I stay there again?  Yes. Would my husband?  Absolutely not.

miami-palm-treesThe last day we were in Miami, it was 75 and sunny and we spent the day at The Standard pool. When we arrived, it was 50.  50 equals freezing in Miami and it definitely wasn’t beach or pool weather. On Monday, we spent the day exploring Miami’s Design District.  We saw a lot of great street art and explored the Design District’s high end clothing and furniture shops.

Miami’s food scene continues to evolve and we had a lot of good meals.  We had kick ass Cuban food at Las Olas. It’s a dive but there’s always a line of locals. The pulled pork and plantains were amazing and it was my favorite meal of our visit. We also ate at the Market at Edition, Milos, Sardinia Enoteca, Salumeria 104, and Yardbird. Not one of these meals was bad and I highly recommend any of these places.

Overall, Miami wasn’t a bad place to get stuck for a couple of days. However, I was happy to get back to DC.  Snow aside, it’s always nice to come home.

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

beach-arthurs

beach-harb-is

Last week, my husband and I spent a few days in Harbour Island, Bahamas.  It’s absolutely stunning.  What we didn’t anticipate was the impact of #snowzilla on the weather.  While we were far, far away, the #snowzilla weather system wreaked havoc on the entire east coast. Instead of 75 and sunny, we got 68, windy and rainy.  It was a bummer.  We enjoyed a few mornings at the beach (in every layer we had in our suitcase) but it wasn’t exactly as I envisioned. I know..pity party for me, right?  Boo hoooooo.

rock-house-street

While the weather was disappointing, overall we had a ball.  Harbour Island is picturesque. It’s tiny island off the coast of Eleuthera. The only way to reach it is by water taxi.  Everyone drives golf carts and it takes about 15 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. It’s full of colorful homes and pink sand beaches.  The food is amazing.  Every meal we had was delicious and we enjoyed many cocktails.

doorway-harb-is

pineapple-house

By the end of our trip, I was stir crazy. Unless the weather is good, there’s not a ton to do. We were there 3 full days and I was ready to get off the island.  My take away: Harbour Island is the perfect weekend get away but I don’t know if I could spend a week there.

The weather was also freaking me out.  Our flight back to DC was cancelled and suddenly, it looked like we were going to be stuck in Harbour Island for longer than anticipated. No bueno. After a fight with our airline, I arranged for us to get back to Miami.  More on that tomorrow!

Where to Stay: The Dunmore, Rock House    We stayed at the Rock House.  We stayed in the Rock House, Negril many years ago and loved it.  Rock House, Harbor Island was also fantastic.  It’s not beach front which I didn’t realize.  (dur)  If you want beach front, stay at The Dunmore.  It’s gorgeous too!

Where to Eat: The Landing, Rock House, The Dunmore, Arthurs (breakfast and lunch only), Sip Sip (lunch only), Bahamas Coffee Roaster.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

renwick-ext

Sometimes you need a little wonder in your life and the new exhibit at the Renwick Gallery delivers it in spades.  The Renwick reopened in November after a two year renovation and it was my first visit.  The exhibit is short. You can see it in thirty minutes and every moment is powerful. Below are a few of my favorite installations:

treeThat’s a mold/carving of a 150 year old tree.  When you walk around to the side of the “roots”, you see the trunk. It’s immense and breathtaking especially when you realize all those pieces were hand carved.

skullThis is a skull made out of bugs.  The entire installation is made out of bugs.  It’s disgusting and beautiful.  It makes me shudder.

rainblowNo words to describe this incandescent string art except “wow”.

I love sparkle so this was my favorite out all of the pieces.  Make sure you stop and watch the video where all the artists describe their vision and what they were trying to achieve.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

latest-and-greatest-dec2105

I don’t know about you, but the last two months have gone by at warp speed.  I’ve been swamped at work (yea!) but I’ve also been having a lot of fun.

Have you been to The Dabney yet?  I’ve been twice and I’m completely obsessed with the place. The food is delicious and the service is A+.  No wonder it’s getting rave reviews!

I went on a DC Wise retreat to Middleburg.  We had lunch at The Salamander (so pretty) then ventured to two vineyards: Boxwood and RdV.  It was a fun day and we did a lot of planning for our events next year.  Get ready!

I had a lunch meeting at Chez Billy Sud and enjoyed a wonderful Nicoise salad.  I’m obsessed with Nicoise salads and this version was beautiful and tasty.  I’ll be back!

The new retail at the corner of 9th and U St. is ridiculous!  I can’t believe this is down the street from my house!! As you can tell from the number of exclamation marks, I’m excited the shops, movie theatre and Glen’s Market have opened.  My neighborhood just keeps on getting better.  Now bring on the Whole Foods!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

I’ve lived in DC for a looong time yet somehow, I’ve never visited the National Arboretum. This weekend I had a couple of hours free on Saturday and the weather was insanely pretty.  I met a friend for lunch at Union Market and then we went exploring at the Arboretum.

The Arboretum is HUGE.  We only visited 3 areas and there were many other things to see. It’s wild (harhar) to be wandering in a serene patch of woods and know the hustle and bustle of U St., NW is 15 minutes away.  It’d be a great place for a picnic or to read a book.

bonsaiThe Bonsai Pavilion was also fascinating.  One of the trees in the exhibit has been in training since the 1600’s.  Isn’t that crazy?

If you need some green in the midst of the concrete, the arboretum is a great outing.  How was your weekend?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

dc wise Invite

You might be wondering why I keep writing about DC Wise.  Last year, I joined this wonderful organization and it was my first foray into charity.  It’s deeply satisfying to give back and I love that we help women and children.

This year, our 2nd Annual annual fundraiser is going to be a blockbuster.  Our charity is FAIR Girls, an organization that helps exploited children. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to help FAIR Girls fund another social worker.

Our auction items this year are impressive. Buy your tickets now and help us meet our goal!

Arts & Entertainment
4 One-Day Park Hopper passes to Disney World
Author Karin Tanabe signed novels and Book Club Appearance
“What do I do with these pictures?” 2 Hour class for Moms
A family photo session – custom session up to 2 hours at location of your choice + 16×24 canvas of your favorite image
Personal or Professional Photo Session and 11×14 canvas of your favorite photo
2 Wizards Court side Tickets with autographed photo
Greenbrier Resort – 2 night / 3 day stay w/ golf, horseback riding or fly fishing
Washington Caps 2 VIP seats + food, drinks and parking
4 Front Row Tickets to a Nationals game
2 VIP Tickets to Studio Theater – an experience-opening night party with director and cast
Hand Carved Wood Bowl (made from an elm tree knocked down in derecho storm)
Jon Wye custom T-Shirt & Tour of Workshop

Health & Wellness
Private Rooftop Yoga Class for 4 People & Post Class Mimosas
30 Day ClassPass
Logan 14/Aveda Spa Hot Stone Mani/Pedi
Health Coach Nichole Ferrigno 90 minute pantry clean out and wellness consultation
Session with Personal Coach Leigh Perry
Soul Cycle 10 class pass
Barre class 10 class package plus water bottle, core ball and tote
Deep Pore Hydrafacial

Fashion & Beauty
Rag & Bone $400 gift certificate
Hu’s shoes $200.00 gift certificate
Personal Custom Eyelash Extension from Georgetown Spa
Closet Organization & Clean Out by DC Style Factory
2 hour styling by Sebastien Courret

Food & Wine
Le Diplomate dinner gift certificate
Private Wine Tasting at Total Wine & More for 20 people
Dinner for 2 at Zaytinya plus 1 bottle of wine, tax and gratuity
Dinner for 2 at Barcelona (does not include alcohol, tax or tip)
Lunch with the Ladies of DC WISE
Gift Basket of Goodies from Periwinkle Gifts

Home & Decor
Wall papering a powder room or wall
1 bedroom Home Staging from New Vision Staging

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

applesIt’s the first day of Fall!  The Pope is visiting, Whole Foods is officially coming to the neighborhood and cooler weather is upon us.  Go forth and enjoy yourselves!

1. Apple picking in Virginia

There are many apple orchards within a mile of DC and you can grab your fill.  Stribling Orchard and Hartland Orchard are located in Markham, VA.  Check their websites for the days and hours they are open.

fall-foliage-road-trips-harpers-ferry.jpg.rend.tccom.1280.960

2. Hiking in Harper’s Ferry

As the weather cools off and the leaves start to change, hiking in Harper’s Ferry is a Fall favorite.

cheering crowd concert

3. Landmark Music Festival for the National Mall

If you’re a DC centric kind of person (raises hand), the Landmark Music Festival on the Mall would probably be the event for you.  It’s this weekend and it’s 2 days of concerts with over 40 different performers.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more