The walk to reach malga Fodara Vedla is the kind of gift we would like to give our children every autumn Sunday. Intersecting Altavia, which crosses the Dolomites from Braies to Belluno, you pass virgin woods, enjoy the first snow of the season, and grit your teeth on the steepest paths. As a reward, a delicious genuine mountain meal prepared and served by the descendants of grandpa Hans. He was a baker in San Vigilio and during WWI he bought the place from the Austro-Hungarian troops. The Mutschlechner family will dine next to you, talkative and harmonious, when almost all wayfarers are back on their paths, as the sun is setting behind the mountaintops and your children are blissfully enjoying the last sips of their cocoas with whipped cream before resuming the walk. Open end of May until November.
The warmth of the hygge helps the Danish endure the long Scandinavian winter. The word was coined by the Norwegian neighbours in 1700, and represents that mix of family harmony, attention for details and joie de vivre that makes us think nostalgically of our journeys to the North. Architects Caroline and Armin have their own idea of a hygge and, after you have lived among the larch-wood and arolla-pine wood walls of their cottage hanging to the mountainside, you will be delighted by it. You will take with you some of their style and peace, and make good use of it…
In Torre di Palme, on New Year’s Day, a kind young man lets us sit in a room with blue walls. Bells have just celebrated noon, a few tourists linger on the sunny lookout, a lady wearing an apron rapidly hangs out clothes in the Adriatic breeze. Our memories of this place will include the alleys we walk to reach it and the glimpses of the sea between century-old houses. As well as the handmade tortellini in an ancient flowered tureen, the white tablecloths on tables slowly animated by regulars, the intimate and discreet welcome, the perfectly salted grilled meat, and the exquisite herbs. At the end of the day, we wish the New Year were exactly like every meal in this inn – cheerful, precious and graceful.
“The sea defines us, connects us, separates us. Most of us experience only its edges, our available wilderness on a crowded island […]”, wrote Philip Hoare in his wonderful book The Sea Inside. Chef Boris is like a young marine god who grew tired of the North Sea and came to check the mildness of the Mediterranean. His home is still an island, which fully defines him. He comes from NOMA, and his Ibizan project is a relaxed ‘food studio’ divided in two vaguely secret locations. We are taking you to Boris’ pirate restaurant, they tell us. If we go there for lunch, we will see if La Finca is open. Blonde hair like thin fantastic seaweed, ice-coloured irises, an Andalusian cowboy hat bigger than him, and a whispered tale every evening, when he turns off the kitchen lights and sits with us. We are not good at saying goodbye, so we linger while leaving Boris and his finca, both beautiful and alien. He comes with us to the entrance way with its feeble candelabras hanging from the tall trees, then hands us over to the darkness of Sant Llorenç’s countryside. Our available wilderness on a crowded island…
In 1902, if you got off the train in Palazzolo sull’Oglio, on the railway line Milan-Venice built by the Austrians, and took just two steps, the Rossi family welcomed you to their Osteria della Villetta with lodging, a three-story Art Nouveau building perfumed with traditional recipes. The exquisiteness of this place is that the family stayed where they were born and preserved what back then was a normal place and today is the enchanted set of an Early Twentieth-century film. You are tempted to get there by train and dress with the modest Sunday elegance of our great-grandmothers…
The whiteness of the light and the chirping of tropical birds fill the room on the first floor – the room with big windows and a big white cotton bed – and wake us up. We take a glance outside and find the small Santa Maria, a secondary aristocratic street in Miraflores, unknown to taxi drivers. Exactly where Miraflores gives way to San Isidro and to the enchanting olive-tree wood named El Olivar, and further on to the eighteenth-century hacienda of Astrid and Gaston. Taxi drivers do not know this new ‘hotelito’, and we will not show them. Every time we come here, we will ask to be dropped at Ovalo Gutierrez, and so avoid disturbing the quietness of Santa Maria and this breathtaking house. We are the queens of a small 1940s residence that makes you proud every time you cross its gates. The delicious breakfast is made of gentle portions and a veranda that opens on the garden, where they are bedding a new lemon tree. Sometimes an example of the most perfect and modern hospitality can be found in unexpected towns.
After having collected fresh eggs in the henhouse, Dinà starts preparing the strawberry tart that her guests will taste while it is still warm. Baskets full of bread and croissant, tasty squeezed fruit juices, seasonal fruit salads and mocha coffee will also be ready soon. In the meantime Philippe will serve every single dish with an innate old-fashioned elegance. Just a few rooms are available, all exceptionally tastefully furnished with just the essentials: a bed, a desk, a lamp, a bench, a rug and a vase of fresh flowers. Plus a painting of the artist of the house. Do not leave Casa da Dinà before having visited Philippe’s atelier and having listened to his inspiring tales.
South American dinosaurs might have reached Australia through Antarctica. Such conclusion was drawn by analysing two fossils of two species of very big dinosaurs that were found in Queensland, Australia. I suspect it was the privilege of collecting strolls in the amazing vegetable gardens of Babylonstoren in South Africa, of Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania, of Harald Gasser in the Isarco Valley, of many organic farms in Northern California. I am under the impression it was all the years I spent travelling throughout the world and jotting down about leaves, flowers and fruits. Both activities were my training to cross the gates of La Granja, a Mediterranean farmhouse with an exotic soul, and exchange some words about the harvest of the day with its wonderful vigorous farmers. The moment you order it in the finca, salad is picked under the eyes of Cocò, the black pig, and of the pony that shares his pen and lettuce leaves. In any big private ‘fruit and vegetable garden’, eating all the produce is an activity that involves your sight, taste, senses of smell and touch, and we instinctively yield to it. Moreover, the nature in Ibiza has bold colours even on a cloudy day. And it is just a two-hour flight away from Milan.
The blue leaves of a Begonia pavonina help the plant to survive in a dimly lit environment. Roze and Pierre seem to believe in colours and their thaumaturgic power. They know how to master them to the point that I completely melt and blend with their kaleidoscope. What do I have in common with the rust-coloured linen napkin, the emerald green, the mustard, the crimson of the long veranda corridor, the lobster-red of the crochet crab on my bed, the shiny ochre of bamboo? I have been looking for an answer in the smooth rooms of Medina’s riads, in the most eccentric French ceramics, in the memories of still unvisited places on faraway tropical islands. Los Enamorados is many lives together. It is also an overpowering love, two lovers waiting for the sweetest sunrises and sunsets in a small fishermen’s port, protected by crossing rocks and greenery…
Leave behind the covered market in Placa da Ribeira and its chaos, go up to the first floor, and sit at one of the tables embraced by the light of a Lisbon sunset. For once, you do not have to open the menu: you can trust the tips of the staff, welcoming you with bowls of olives, fritters, mouthwatering bread, olive oil and smiles. Pap’Açorda is the second life of a historic restaurant in Barrio Alto. Save room for the chocolate mousse (cit.)
Wherever I arrive from, Lisbon always greets me with a sort of elective affinity. Even today, when I put my luggage down in front of the tourists crowded in Jardim de S. Pédro de Alcantara, while I check in through a vivid red door, or while I get to the second floor in a casket decorated in toile de jouy (the most ancient lift in the city). Aristocratic furniture and a quirky atmosphere characterize my suite. In another age and in another life I would have stopped here to start writing about my life.
by Sofía Sanchez de Betak
Sofía is a Buenos Aires born, New York based Art Director and Fashion Consultant. In 2012, after having worked in the fashion industry and travelled around the world for years, Sofía launched her website Under Our Sky. On its web pages Sofía shares her travel-finds, but she also sells collections made in cooperation with artisans from all around the world…
We are not yet in that stage of life when you feel so generous as to dedicate some of your free time to recommending a book you are reading to publishing houses. For the time being we just reassure ourselves that that moment will come. Nevertheless, we couldn’t but make an exception, that early summer night, sitting at one of the tables of the The Botanical Club in Tortona street. Our gin was clear and aromatic, in the mild climate. Our bowl of Poke with salmon and teriyaki was brilliantly passing all tests, thus proving to deserve a top-ranking position among the gastronomic surprises of the season…
There are books of which I underline entire sentences. These are the books that I keep on my desk and entrust to friends visiting me at home. Masseria Moroseta is like that – a poetic tale about which I want to remember and share each line: the spartan, thin spigot of the set-aside fountain; the staircase standing out against the lively light-blue sky of a summer day in the South; the peace and quiet that permeate the white backyard. I also want to keep alive the memory of the dog Beppe, lazily moving from one shade to the other…
Whitewashed ranches surrounded by golden fields and filled with black and white souvenirs have seen a family passing the baton to the next generation for two centuries. Here, old tools and yellowed boxes are upgraded to decorations. Every morning (freshly roasted) boiling coffee is served in flagons made of iron and glass. Handmade ceramic sets are painted in the perfect tone of light blue and the small bazar can be compared to our favourite concept stores in Paris…