Sunday, 16 April 2017

La dolce vita on Lake Como

When you think Lake Como you think big sunglasses, riding in a convertible and hopping on boats with a drink in hand. And you wouldn't be thinking all that far from reality because Lake Como is the stuff dreams are made of: millions of shades of blue, mountains dipping straight into the glistening calm lake, air so clean you can smell a crisp alpine breeze and cute colourful villages where nothing probably ever happens (other than George Clooney dropping by to get his newspaper of course).

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Cheating on Milan for a day

View of Varese from the Giardini Estense

Even though Milan is a cosmopolitan and international industry powerhouse in which most dream to fit its hectic half jet-setting half latin rhythm, I find myself daydreaming of the day I'll get to take a train out of the city and into the green countryside. There's a small chance the 9 hours I spend in an office every day contribute to my oxygen depravation but I know myself enough to say that being outdoors is what brings me peace and happiness. Thankfully, my job also entails sometimes spending a day a week at Villa Panza in Varese, a small city I had never heard of and never really intended to visit anyway.

Example of greenery a)

                         Example of greenery b)

This post would have no plot twist if I didn't end up going to Varese and liking it - a lot! It's a quick train journey away from Milan but a whole lot closer to the mountains which make for a spectacular backdrop. The air is probably the first thing I noticed. Even though it's clearly not all an alpine meadow, it smelt so much fresher and cleaner than the air in Milan. I even got a whiff of cut grass which is a plant quite unknown to the milanese. It's also super manageable in that 10 hours is enough time to see it and enjoy a nice day out at a reasonable pace. It has it's history that's for sure but it lives as the quiet suburb from where rich individuals chose to commute to Milan, and I totally understand why. As a consequence though, it's a surprisingly chic and bourgeois town, very clean and manicured with an impressive shopping menu, I'm talking Givenchy and Bottega Veneta full-on stores.

But that's not where my days start. They start with a walk from the station, up a steep winding road with cars coming from around the bend at full speed, totally unaware that a poor tourist who is cursing at the Italian authorities for not making a pedestrian way might be walking from the oposite direction. Forget the morning espresso, this experience is enough to wake any coffee addict up. At the top of said hill is Villa Panza which I have now dubbed my happy place. It's a sizeable 18th century villa with the standard Italienate features. What makes it stand out though is its INSANE-ly cool contemporary art collection and its gardens, in this particular order. It's probably the last place you'd think to look for a neon art instalation, or a photography exhibit on 9/11 but sure enough you will find both (and more) there. At the moment there's a Bob Wilson exhibition called Tales running until october with some unusual video portraits of celebrities in different guises, contrasting pop-culture with the sombre and proper decor of the place. My favourite part must be the corridor and the adjacent rooms though, it reminds me of an edgy London exhibit.

After you've spent a decent amount of time on a bench, eyes closed and face towards the warm sun, head back down in the town and go for a walk on the main old shopping street. It's super charming with pastel coloured buildings and balconies where I imagine the locals take their coffee in the morning. You can do some serious shopping there too; I was quite surprised but there were big designer stores for brands like Bottega Veneta and Givenchy. I couldn't quite afford even going in probably so I went to a very cute interior decor shop called Coccole e Vitamine which had heavenly scented candles, some hand made ones shaped like flowers which I think make for stunning gifts. I had some coffee at 5 Via Carlo Giuseppe Veratti (I can't remember the name of the place but it was just up the street) and wondered some more. I also visited the Giardini Estense and the Palace which remind me a lot of Austria. I guess the mountains in the background contributed a bit to that as well... I passed by the Torre Civico and then made my way to the station. All in all it was a great day out of the big manic city - and I think I shall be back because I read of a bike trail that goes around Lago di Varese that looks right up my street.

The nameless courtyard with the home decor shop and next door Bottega Veneta 

The sweetest newstand

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Easy Cinnamon Bun recipe | Baking like a wannabe-pro

Baking has never really been my strong point - I have the lack of intuition that makes the difference between a newbie and a seasoned pro. And without fail there is something in the recipe I missread or I'm oblivious to steps that maybe to the writer who has perfected and made said recipe a million times seem self-explanatory. Long story short, whenever my deserts turn out close to how they should it's a real success, one I cannot not share.

Monday, 26 December 2016

What to see in Paris | Off the beaten track

Touristy Paris is relatively easy and quick to see - three days in the capital of 'joie de vivre' should suffice if you're after the classic trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, snoop at the Orsay and selfie with the Notre Dame Cathedral. But I think no one should be content with seeing just that; not saying these attractions aren't good but they aren't particularly telling of the REAL Paris, the one you discover when you get lost or when you take a route less known.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Where to eat in Paris

Illustration by @marialyngdk

With allegedly 40,000 restaurants and probably twice as many cafés, Paris is a foodie's heaven and an indecisive person's hell. A maze as complicated as its beautiful stone-paved streets, Paris needs to be navigated with an open mind as well as with *some* apprehension; much like in a computer game, there are tourist traps at every corner, just waiting to take a ridiculous amount of your gold coins for an underwhelming onion soup.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Best of | H&M beauty

It's taken me a solid year to find out that H&M had launched a new and very trendy beauty line, which frankly doesn't surprise me since I usually triple-check even my drugstore beauty purchases. Long story short, you wouldn't catch me dead buying anything else other than nail polish from "mothership brands" (aka brands that technically specialise in one think but then release a myriad of other stuff). I think it was a video of Tati's, also known as GlamLifeGuru on Youtube, that actually brought this line to my attention and it has been there ever since, so much so that I took the dive into the unknown and emerged 30 euros lighter.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Chateau de Chantilly | Day trip from Paris

I spent one of the best days this autumn visiting Chantilly castle with Diana. The endless shades of green and rusty red were almost more intense after the spot of rain and there was that crisp smell of winter in the air which made it even more perfect. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Mornings like this

   Temptation looms at every street corner, boulangerie or even local Carrefour city. Needless to say I have developed the superpower - or bad habit - of shamelessly eating a whole bar of chocolate in 15 minutes, undeterred by the ensuing tooth ache because oh-the-irony I am sensitive to sweetness! However, life is short and my stay in Paris even shorter so I'm Carpe diem-ing all the way. This morning I treated myself to my favourite tea (Fortnum & Mason black peach), my new favourite read and a mouth-watering brioche loaf from La maison Pralus. 😋

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