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

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??

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

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!!

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

life via instagram

My trip to LA over President’s Day weekend was a ton of fun. The only downside: the weather! The weekend we were there, LA had a “monster storm” and it rained like crazy two out of the five days we were visiting.  Figures.  They’ve had a drought for four years but the weekend we visit, it’s a deluge.

We spent a couple days in Pasadena with my Aunt and Uncle then moved onto LA. While in Pasadena, we ate at wonderful restaurants and visited the Norton Simon Museum.  The museum was incredible and had a mix of old Masters and modern art.  I found a new artist that I like: Sam Francis.  I’d never heard of him but I LOVED the “Basel Mural 2”. I wish I could recreate it.

On Saturday, we met up with more family but on the Angotti side.  We spent the day with them at the LA Natural History Museum and then checked out their neighborhood in Hollywood.  It was cute! California has an interesting mix of housing styles and I enjoyed gawking.  Always a real estate agent.

We stayed at Santa Monica pier at the Shore Hotel for the rest of our visit. A few of my DC friends have absconded to LA and live in Venice Beach.  Santa Monica was the perfect location between Hollywood and Venice.  Saturday and Sunday we spent hanging out in Santa Monica and Venice.  Saturday evening we ate at Michael’s (which was seriously amazing) and Sunday we had brunch at Scopa. Venice was adorable and I loved all the shops on Abbot Kinney Rd.

Although we managed to pack a lot of visiting and wandering while we were there, there’s still neighborhoods that I want to explore.  Next visit!

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

off to la

la sky

I’m off to LA tomorrow and I’m looking forward to sunshine and nice temperatures.  At least 2 of the 4 days will be nice. Even though LA has been having a drought for the last 4 years, apparently this year they’re getting record rainfall.  While I’m pumped for LA, I’ve been feeling a lot of *#%^ due to the weather forecast.  Le sigh.

I’m spending a couple days in Pasadena and then a couple of days in LA proper.  More on my adventures next week. Have a happy President’s Day weekend!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

puente romano beach

Marbella was everything I imagined: picturesque, sunny, and unbelievably fun. Spain has always been a special place for me and after an extended hiatus, I was ecstatic to be back.

My husband and I arrived a day earlier than the rest of the crew and spent the night at fancy hotel called the Puente Romano.  It was uber luxurious and the people watching was fantastic. Everyone was super glam, decked out in the latest fashions and I could immediately see why Marbella is considered a playground for pretty people.  We had a seaside lunch, drank a bottle of rosé, got massages and relaxed.  Our flight to Spain was a total shit show (#deltasucks) and we needed pampering.

old marbella

That evening, we went to Casco Antiguo or Old Town Marbella for dinner. It was charming. We wandered down cobblestone streets, poked around in a few shops and then had dinner at Restaurante Marbella Patio. It was the first of many fine meals.

marbesa beach

The next day, we were off to the house my friend rented. It was 15 minutes east of Puente Romano in an area called Marbesa. It’s a neighborhood full of grand houses and twisty streets.  The beach was a five minute walk from the house and it was gorgeous.

marbella toes pool

There were eight of us for most of the week and it was an international group.  A couple of people were from London, there were a few Americans, and one is currently living in Toronto. The house was big, the beds were comfy and the pool was dynamite but the house had a few problems.  The hot water heater broke on Sunday and the rest of the week there was no hot water.  The wifi was intermittent and nobody could figure out how to work the TV’s because the instructions were in Russian. It wasn’t ideal but it certainly didn’t ruin our fun.

competa all

On Monday, we went to Cómpeta for the Noche del Vino.  This is an annual event that pays tribute to the town’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de Asuncion.  Traditionally, it’s supposed to be a day of celebration before the harvest begins. It’s an hour and a half away from Marbella in the mountains. Our group was on Spanish time the entire trip: stay up to at least 2-3am every night, get up by 11am, start moving by 1-2pm. By the time we arrived, we had missed the traditional events like the grape stomping. Instead, we got DJ’s and loads of drunk people singing and dancing. It was hilarious and definitely not what we were expecting.  After side stepping the drunken masses, we spent the remaining time exploring the tiny town.

spain

The rest of our visit was spent relaxing in and around Marbesa and Marbella.  Part of the group was ambitious and took day trips to Granada and Sevilla.  For us, that was too much time in the car and not enough time relaxing.  We rented loungers under umbrellas and spent afternoons on the beach.  We ate at the local chiringuito, a casual, beach side restaurant.  We had an epic night out till 6am.  We spent an afternoon at Nikki Beach, drinking, dancing and watching a bunch of douche bags fellows spray a case of Tattinger in the pool. We spent an evening in Puerto Banús and oogled the yachts. We drank tons of Spanish wine, ate loads of jamón and laughed a lot.  It was an ideal vacation.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” St. Augustine

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

gone fishin’

marbella beach

After a crazy week (my new listing had 9 offers.  9!), I’m off to Marbella, Spain.  My friend that lives in London has rented a house so she can experience a “typical British holiday”.  It’s a short walk to the beach and the house has a pool (see below). It looks amazing.  When she initially told me her plans, I immediately invited myself.  I mean..Marbella!  Come on!  How can you miss that sort of adventure? Details when I return.

marbella house

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more

a day in east london

IMG_3162Two weekends ago, my husband and I went back to London.  One of our friends recently took a job there and is living the expat life in Shoreditch.  While I enjoyed our first experience in London last year, this visit was a hundred times more fun. For us, our best adventures are when we pretend we’re locals. It helped that our friend was the consummate hostess and guided us to activities she knew we’d love.

netil-marketMy favorite part of this trip was Saturday. We strolled through several neighborhoods and went to two different markets. Our first stop was Netil Market in South Hackney.  This is a small market but it had boa buns (huge London trend at the moment) which my husband immediately devoured.

broadwayNext, we wandered down to Broadway Market.  It’s much larger than Netil Market and has loads of vendors.  There were bakery’s, cheese shops, jamón ibérico (yum!), flower shops, and clothing stands.  It was amazing! I wanted to buy a million things but restrained myself. Barely.

street-art-broadway-marketEast London is also has amazing street art.  It’s everywhere and it’s really good.  This was my favorite piece near Broadway Market.

canal-walk-Next we strolled down the canal.  We saw a bunch of house boats, more street art/graffiti and lots of ducks.  While it was a little overcast and rainy, it was “warm” by London standards. (Around 55 and people were in shorts.  Meanwhile, I had on a hat and scarf.  Brr!).  After about thirty minutes, we ended up in Islington and stopped at a pub for some chips. (first photo).

Then we went back to my friend’s flat, had cheese, jamón ibérico, and a glass of wine before we got ready for cocktails at Nightjar.  London life sure is fun!

Where to Stay |  The Ace or The Hoxton

Where to Eat |  HKK (not cheap but so delicious!), Polpo

Where to Drink | Nightjar, Happiness Forgets

Where to Shop | Brick Lane or Redchurch Street.  SO MANY GOOD SHOPS.  Don’t miss Monologue, Dark Sugars Chocolates and The Godhood Store.

 

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

IMG_2723Last weekend,  my husband and I went to Charleston, SC to visit my brother. He lives at Folly Beach which is a little beach town about 20 minutes outside of downtown Charleston. I love weekends in CHS because it’s the best of what I enjoy the most: beach and city.

CharlestonWhere we ate 

Xiao boa biscuit.  Asian soul food. It was our second visit and it didn’t disappoint.

The Grocery   Farm to table with an emphasis on house made charcuterie and pickled vegetables.  Our first visit and we enjoyed it immensely.

Where we drank

The Belmont  A cocktail bar/lounge that’s got an old world feel.

AC’s  Your classic dive bar.

folly beach low tideBesides eating and drinking in downtown CHS, we spent quality time in Folly.  We walked on the beach everyday.  We took a golf cart ride to the washout to check out the waves (my brother and his girlfriend are both surfers). We attended Follypalooza on Saturday which was highly entertaining.

Per usual, our visit to Folly and CHS was a blast.  I can’t wait to return. Now back to reality.

 

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
read more