Friday, June 23

La Dolce Vita: Insider’s guide to Sardinia

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For almost two decades, Michelle Stein and her italian husband have shared a second home in Porto Rotondo on sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. click below for her tip sheet to some of the island’s more off–the-beaten-track villages and restaurants.

“There is just so much to see in experience in Sardegna, this is just a small peek into the beauty of the region.”

—Michelle Stein

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Alghero is a wonderful city located on the west coast of the island. It was conquered by the Spanish Catalan and vestiges of this culture remain. Many of the older inhabitants still speak Catalan, and one of the region’s classic dishes is paella with fregola, the traditional, couscous-like Sardinian pasta. A favorite restaurant here is Al Tuguri. Villa Las Tronas is a spectacular hotel—set on a promontory overlooking the gulf and a short walk from the city’s center. Right outside of Alghero is Hotel El Faro, a seaside resort and spa built in the 1950s by Sardinian architect Antonio Simon Mossa and surrounded on three sides by the 12,000-acre nature reserve Porto Conte.

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San Pantaleo is a charming village in the northeastern part of the island, near the Costa Smeralda. Once inhabited by expatriate artists, the village is a gathering spot for many visitors to the CS, particularly on market days. Petra Segreta is a lovely resort nearby, with individual stone guest cottages and a wellness center set in granite grotto. We also love La Sasima, an agriturismo or family farm that accepts a small number of guests. The restaurant offers roasted suckling pig and other traditional Sardinian fare), as well as local wine and farm-made cheeses, salami, and honey.

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Cabras is an 11th-century village in the province of Oristano. There’s a wonderful trattoria there, Sa Bel E Crabasa. And don’t miss Museo Civico Giovanni Marongiu, a fascinating archeological museum with the extraordinary ancient sandstone sculptures known as the Giganti di Mont’e Prama, and the ruins from the prehistoric Phoenician settlement of Tharros.

The granite mountains and rock formations in the interior of Sardinia are spectacular. I love to spend the weekend at Hotel Su Gologone in Oliena, hiking and visiting the nearby towns. Sorgente di Su Gologone is an incredible natural spring located in the valley of Su Gologone. We also visit Dorgali, with its incredible Nuragic civilization stone monuments, and drive down the mountain to the seaside village of Cala Gonone, where we rent a gommone, a small rubber boat, and visit the coastline. Cala Luna is one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. You can also trek from Cala Gonone to Cala Luna.

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Friday, June 16

La Dolce Vita: Insider’s guide to Florence

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For almost 30 years, Nick Wooster has traveled to Florence each January and June for the international menswear fair, Pitti Uomo. Here’s where the Forty Five Ten Men’s Creative Director and street-style icon spends his time when he’s not scouting new talent, working a showroom, or reviewing a runway collection.

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Depending on who’s paying, my first choice is J.K. Place Firenze. Of course, Zack Shumway [former Forty Five Ten menswear buyer]  is the one who introduced me to it. They have a location here and in the south of France. It’s the most f***ing chic-est place I’ve ever been. So beautiful and cool and un-Florence like. I literally ate every meal there the rest of the week. For me, that’s the secret to life: Listen to people who are experts. Pay attention.

On the other side is Hotel Santa Maria Novella. It’s like a four-star hotel masquerading as a five-star. It’s the best 300 euro you’re gonna get.

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Michelangelo’s David truly is one of the most magnificent pieces of art that you can experience in life—created with nothing more than a hammer and chisel! The scale is just breathtakingly monumental. My favorite souvenirs in all Italy are the little David magnets or statues you find at the souvenir stands.

Another must is the Gucci Museum. It’s amazing. The history is beyond. The highlight is the Gucci Cadillac—a 1970 Seville Gucci-edition. There’s a whole Tom Ford room, and an amazing gift shop where you can buy handbags and books. It’s also a great spot for lunch or tea. It covers everything.

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I’ve eaten in some amazing places, but I don’t really pay attention. At the end of the day, my default is room service. My favorite pizza is a place called La Bussola on via Portarossa 58R. I always, always, always order the pizza margherita.

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Friday, May 26

La Dolce Vita: Insider’s guide to Venice

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Every other summer for 25 years, Cindy Rachofsky and her husband, Howard, have traveled to Italy for the Venice Biennale. The 57th edition of the international art show kicks off May 13 and runs through November 26. “It is our favorite city for food, art (both old and new), and for simply exploring,” says Cindy. “To wake to the sounds and smells of the sea, the gulls, the brine, the boats…there’s simply nothing like it.”

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The Gritti Palace—the magnificent 15th-century palazzo has been renovated to its original splendor. To have breakfast on the terrace and a negroni that evening and watch the world go by is heaven on earth. The rooms are incredibly over the top—all the fringe and damask in the world is there. Take a short boat ride to Guidecca island and the Bauer Palladio, a 16th century convent turned 5-star hotel. It’s smaller, only 50 rooms, with beautiful gardens and an amazing rooftop bar. Hotel Cipriani has the only swimming pool in Venice. It’s directly across the lagoon from Piazza San Marco, and has the most amazing views of the lagoon and Doge’s Palace. Don’t miss Harry’s Dolci, the outdoor restaurant on the water.

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Venice has more than 100 churches; one of the most beautiful is Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, home of Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin. Exhibitions change regularly at Fondazione Prada, a historic Grand Canal palazzo turned contemporary art space. I’m interested to see the latest, “THE BOAT IS LEAKING. THE CAPTAIN LIED.”  We’ve all read the books about Peggy Guggenheim, but to see the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, her home and her pet cemetery and her incredible, deeply personal collection of modern art is not to be believed. Palazzo Grassi and Punta Della Dogana are the two Venetian venues of the Francois Pinault collection. For the first time, both will be dedicated to a single artist, Damien Hirst, and his most ambitious and complex project to date, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.” This is NOT TO BE MISSED.

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Ristorante da Ivo is hands-down our favorite for Tuscan dishes and Venetian specialties; the spaghetti alle vongole is the best we’ve had anywhere. It also has the coolest entrance—you step out of the boat right into the restaurant. Corte Sconta, owned by a woman from Texas and her Italian husband, is great for a group. You sit outside at long tables under a lovely vine pergola and eat family-style. They bring an endless amount of Venetian seafood antipasti from amazing canoce (baby shrimp) to folpeti (baby octopus). Everything at Alle Testiere is market fresh—they start with great ingredients and don’t have to go much farther. It’s exceptionally and consistently good with amazing Venetian flavors.

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Every brand you know and love is here, but why go to Venice to shop for what you can buy at home?  If you want to be a real tourist take a boat to the island of Murano for hand-blown glass or to Burano for handmade lace. Codognato is a must. The 3rd generation of the same family designs and sells the most exquisite jewelry with macabre skulls, Blackamoors and serpents. Gaggio has a few readymade bags and hats but the fabrics—rich Venetian velvets and damasks—are what you want. If you need a beautiful over-the-top Venetian mask for your next masked ball Mondo Novo is the place, and Dittura for those velvet shoes the gondoliers wear that you know you want as your next pair of slippers.

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Monday, May 22

La Dolce Vita: For Her, For Him, For Home

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Tuesday, May 16

La Dolce Vita: Insider’s guide to Rome

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“Steve and I had the GREAT adventure of living in Rome for 3 years before moving back to the States to have our daughter, Stella. The city is another home to all of us, and we get back there as often as the bank allows.” —Lucy Wrubel

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The Hotel De Russie is at the high end, but the private piazza and star-studded cocktail hour never disappoint. I DJed a wedding in the courtyard and Bruce Springsteen crashed. By FAR the best bang for the buck is the Albergo del Senato, where the rooms literally open up onto the roof of the Pantheon. The nightlife of street performers wafting into the room as you get ready to go out sets the perfect Roman stage.

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Split your time between ANCIENT and RELIGIOUS. You won’t be able to cover it all, but these tips are solid: Post Colosseum and Forum, take the elevator at the back of the Vittorio Emanuele II monument and look back over all the excavations. It’s mind blowing and an Instagram gold moment! For the Vatican, an early private guide is imperative. So is lunch afterwards at Gusto (pza Augusto Imperatore, 9). Hello, the Pantheon is the finest building on the planet. The fact that this pagan temple is still standing is a marvel. Don’t miss it and if it rains, you must RUN to witness it streaming in through the oculus. The art collection at Galleria Doria Pamphilj (pza del Collegio Romano, 2), housed in the 17th century Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, includes Caravaggios, Brueghels, and Diego Velazquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X. Snag the headphones to learn more about the Baroque-through-present-day collection and get a glimpse into a real Roman family dynasty’s home. At Villa Borghese, rent a golf cart or Segway and cruise Rome’s “Central Park”—full of art, cafes and merry-go-rounds!

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Maccheroni (pza delle Coppelle)—”Mac” is the place I dream about at night! Straightforward and authentic. Ask for Luciano, the owner, and tell him the Wrubels sent you. Go late, sit outside, and order petto di pollo con patate al forno and caccio e pepe. Ginger (via Borgonona, 48) is a super chic lil’ lunch spot right off of the Via Condotti, with excellent juices, salads, and charcuterie platters…great for a meal or just a nosh and a glass of rosé. Our FAVE pizza joint is Da Francesco (pza del Fico), just behind Piazza Navona. It’s loud, local and family-style seating. Put your name on the list and grab a glass of Prosecco at Bar Il Fico next door while you wait (so worth it!!!). Al Moro (Vicolo delle Bollette, 13), just around from the Trevi Fountain, is like a little speakeasy packed with Roman senators. Put on your sport coat and let your waiter order for you.

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Via Condotti and the streets surrounding (via Frattina and via Borgonona) are full up on Italian brands. I personally LOVE the art/school-supply store at via della Croce, 70, for stationery, paper, pens… The Italian stapler alone is a work of art! For glasses, Monocle (via di Campo Marzio, 13) offers the most curated of shades. And when in Rome, my FAVE shop is Luna L’altra (pza Pasquino, 76). The owner, Biba, is an art-loving genius and carries such a vibrant and diverse gathering of lines. I find forever pieces here. Also, ask your concierge about the Sunday flea market under the porticos of the Facistera Largo Augusto Imperatore. It’s such fun and has many gems!

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Monday, May 15

La Dolce Vita: Vacation Season Starts Here

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Tuesday, May 9

Ciao Bella! We’re Dreaming Of Italy In The Summer

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Monday, May 1

dreaming of Italy in the summer

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