November 15, 2015
An hour and a half by road from Milan is the small, elegant and refined city of Parma. In this foodie age it is probably better recognized for its parmigiano Reggiano, prosciuttos and salamis, all of which can and should be sampled with visits to the fattorias outside of town or the salumerias within. We certainly wanted to indulge, but I was particularly interested in savoring a handful of cultural gems: the Duomo frescoed ceiling, the great octagonal Romanesque baptistery, the wooden Teatro Farnese secreted within the Galleria Nazionale which also houses one of the great art collections of Emilia-Romagna including works by Corregio, Parmigianino, Francia and an extraordinary Leonardo masterpiece, and one of Italy’s major opera houses, the Teatro Regio. The birthplace of Verdi and Toscanini, Parma is also loved for its annual Verdi Festival which takes place during the month of October.
Tips for Travel
Best Access: Fly in to Malpensa and train down to Parma if you are interested primarily in seeing the city’s cultural treasures. If you want to drive in the countryside and eat at restaurants outside of the city, pick up a hired car at the airport.
Best Hotel: Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati, Tel. +39 0521 386429
Best Salumerias: Salumeria Garibaldi, Salumeria Verdi, La Prosciutteria, Al Borgo-Formaggeria
Quick Lunch Spot: Degustaria on Borgo Palmia, 2
Lunch and Dinner: Angiol d’Or and La Forchetta
Foodie Guide: Stefania Bertaccini, +39 328 2172237
A home is a place you love and don’t want to leave.
When we travel, we don’t expect to find “home,” but we do expect to find some of the qualities that make a home: textures that are warm, a disciplined space, books, a comfortable chair, good lighting, an open window with a view.
A cozy space…
A room that feels yours alone.
October 25, 2015
It’s so new, this 9-table, village restaurant that its website features only a menu and an address. It’s so stylish that even these two offerings are presented, color blocked, in an attention-holding way. Or maybe, I considered, as I saw the home page photo change with each login, the evanescent presentation of MIMI is intentional. After all, the restaurant is named for their grandmother, and I doubt her life could be evoked if put in a box with a drop down menu. She was obviously, herself, a woman of style.
One week in and the graceful bar’s stainless steal surface is still scratch-free (the bartender swears by a nightly light steel wool buff followed by a vinegar wash and an olive oil polish). It’s a pleasant place to sit and share a glass – the white bordeaux is delicious – and chat with one of the young owners. If at one of the 9 small tables (which I think would be great pushed together and taken as a whole for a group of friends), you are offered a menu of french classics. Easy. Delicious.
185 Sullivan Street.
October 17, 2015
Must be getting old…In 1969 I moved to SoHo, a neighborhood inhabited by artists and (still) factory workers. I was married to a painter, and we moved in to a loft on Broome Street that was so cold, in spite of its space heater, that we wore coats indoors. For me it was an experiment in living, guided by a man I loved — a creative genius who wrote and filmed and painted. We dragged into our windowed, tin-ceilinged space, tongue and groove wooden crates from Chinatown, window frames and police barrier planks off the curb. These, scavenged late night, were repurposed as side tables, interior space dividers, and a wonderful circular dining table that hosted our uptown friends. My guy painted canvases with lions and panthers and monkeys for window shades.
I was studying anthropology at Columbia University, and set myself up in a loft space above the living area, accessed with a nautical rope ladder. My typewriter – an old Corona that had only upper case capability – was all I could afford. We were cold, but we were happy.
SoHo in those days was special. Dean & Deluca came in at some point as a deli; Carcanagues, Zona and others came later..each an addition in aesthetic or convenience to those of us who were pioneers. Each was loved and they, of course, became their own pioneers.
None of that is left.
To have a sense of what it was like for another, please read below. I rarely repost but I loved this piece and, even though it records an era that was 20 years after mine (yes!), it is fun.
October 15, 2015
A floatplane ferried me from Florida to the Exumas, a beautiful flight that left me with two overriding impressions: just how beautiful the water and sand is in this chain at my doorstep and just how vulnerable these pancake-flat islands are.
Flying over these cays, large and small, is a bit like taking a tour bus through the Hollywood Hills; the Exumas are settled by a mix of old timers drawn to island life and more recent adventurers with large wealth or famous names (Johnny Depp is one) or, perhaps, both. Development of the cays, therefore, ranges from the simple fishing shack to cays with wind turbines and solar panels, private marinas, chapels and compound clusters.
All, however, adore the secluded nature of the place, the pristine beaches, the vibrant corals, the turquoise water. And the swimming pigs!
October 5, 2015
September 2, 2015
A room with a view – the corner suite at The Peninsula on the Bund looks across at all the iconic buildings of Shanghai. Deliciously comfortable, with superb service, amazing restaurants like Sir Elly’s and Yi Long Court and one of the best spas I know – Tony’s foot massages are sybaritic – I would look no further.
Typhoon Goni slams in to Japan’s south coast and soaks Shanghai. Umbrella in hand, I head off for a quick
shop along the Bund.
Suzhou Cobblers is my first stop at 17 Fuzhou Road, room 101. Pretty and playful, the slippers, ballets and handbags are lined up like candies in a tiny box of a shop. Tip: Make sure to peek deeper in to the building itself, even climbing to the first floor. This old house is typical of a bygone Shanghai, a rickety collection of rental flats, shared kitchens and a terrifying array of electrical cables never envisioned when the structure was built.
Next door to Suzhou Cobblers is Blue Shanghai White, a sweet store owned by a well-known caramicist. The plates, cups and tiled tables were pretty, but my eye was taken with some textured cotton tea towels in various indigo shades and red, white and blue patterns, each with a frogged loop for hanging.
Ruyee Life Gallery, down a nearby alley, sells fine Mongolian cashmere, silk and Tibetan yak khullu (from my favorite, Norlha Textiles). It is said that the big houses in Paris and New York buy from Life Gallery; the sweaters and shawls are beautiful albeit expensive.
Chris Chang, a former GM of Prada Taiwan, took more than five years to find the perfect location for her first store, Poesia, which is located in a sliver ground floor spot at the Jingan Kerry Centre. Her clothes are fun, colorful and a little zany, combining patterns and textures that will add pizzazz to any closet.
Han Feng is the piece de resistance..a world renowned designer, she is smart, fun and brilliantly talented. With ateliers in both Shanghai and New York, she is a truly cross cultural artist whose clothes range from the simplest of white cotton shirts to full on, glam evening dresses.
August 27, 2015
Around the bend, my first glimpse of the temple’s golden roof. And then I see the huge complex: the chalky white stupa; the dry stone prayer halls washed in cinnabar and fringed with temple trim; the monks’ quarters, with cleanly swept courtyards open to the elements. The temple feels ancient, lost in time, as if it had rooted itself on the mountain flank, and, for added protection, sought anchorage in the gnarled trunks of the juniper forest.
Photograph: Lisa Lindblad
Location: Kangtsa Monastery, Zorge, Gansu Province, China
August 20, 2015
The Tibetan Plateau is the largest, highest region in the world. An immense upland, averaging more than 16,500 feet in elevation, it includes almost all the world’s territory higher than 13,000 feet. Its southern rim, the Himalaya-Karakoram range, contains not just Mount Everest and all 13 other peaks higher than 26,400 feet, but hundreds of 23,000-foot peaks, each higher than anywhere else on earth.
I have come for many reasons. George Schaller, the biologist who studied tigers in India, lion in Africa and bharral and snow leopard on the Tibetan Plateau, fascinated me years ago with stories of his long, solitary months gathering data; Peter Matthiessen’s book, The Snow Leopard (written while on a 3-month trek with Schaller), describes in his magnificent, inimitable way the flora and fauna and faith of Inner Dolpo, the region of the Plateau far to the west of us; and my discovery of two new ventures here – Norden Camp and Norlha Textiles – is the current draw that makes an old dream become reality.
I booked my flight to Shanghai, connected straight through to Xian, one of the gateways to the roof of the world. (more…)
August 8, 2015
I am a traveler. I am a literal traveler, moving from place to place for work and for pleasure. I am a habitual traveler, possessing what my father called “the bougeotte”, a wanderlust, a desire to see the world. Bougeotte is a visceral thing, a deep-in-the-bones disturbance that rises and falls like a temperature depending upon the length of time from, or to, the next trip.
And I am an imaginary traveler, what the 19th c termed armchair traveler, finding pleasure and inspiration in stories that evoke landscape, preferably an intimately described external one that illuminates an even more complex internal one.
I can reach way back and find the seeds of some of my greatest journeys in books. In The Wilder Shores of Love, by Leslie Blanch, I found a tradition and a flock of women I wished to join, and, together, they drew my sight away from my euro-centered world of geography and culture toward Africa. Her book, Journey Into the Mind’s Eye was another I savored around the same time, and it instilled in me the desire – yet to be realized – for a long solo train journey across empty landscapes surrounded by my books.
When I reached university, it was Levi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques that inspired me to become an anthropologist. 19th and early 20th century anthropologists studied far flung communities and so, of course, the exotic and the unknown appealed. But it was more than that, and I recognized myself in L-S’s identification of the anthropologist’s quandry: why, when she has a perfectly good society to study at home, does she feel the need to go halfway around the world? I recognized myself in his answer: “..in his past certain objective factors show him to be ill-adapted to the society in which he was born.” My first passion flowered.
During the following decade I made friends with the field biologist, George Schaller and his wife, Kay. Kay sent me a book on the Lascaux Caves which ultimately resulted in the most moving cultural experience of my life – a 23-minute visit to the original cave (no longer open). On a leisurely visit with George to the Bronx Zoo’s, he spoke to me of his work on the Tibetan Plateau. And then, because I was intrigued, I read Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard – an account of his journey with Schaller to the area – and found, therein, not only a carefully and beautifully drawn book of days in the high altitude natural and cultural world of Nepal and Tibet, but also, and even more importantly, a wrenchingly honest and exceedingly wise search for inner truth and acceptance.
I have read all of these aforementioned books many times over in my life and am re-reading now Matthiessen’s because, finally, I am on my way to the Tibetan Plateau. It has taken all these years to get there, yet I believe there is a time and place when journeys make themselves required.
Journeys start in interesting places deep within our own history. Not all need to be actualized, but it is fun to credit the sources. They teach you a lot and they also tell you a lot about where you have come from.