For me, summer is what Milan Kundera would call “the lightness of being”. It is a time when serious questions have a gentle way of being postponed, when the wind is best when moves your light skirt and waves into your hair, when your skin starts loving all the shades of golden and most importantly, when everyone you love is a hand distance away. If only this could last forever. Where I would like to add with confidence – no, it would not be too much for too long.
This summer for all of us has been a great time to experiment, look for adventure at home or seek for the unexpected in foreign lands. Yet probably no one choice to go too far. There is always a thin layer of fear that comes as a wrapping paper with each destination you choose. Yet the phrase ‘’lock-down’’ has been all over me by mid summer and so I decided to run. Run for that blue sea and salty hair. How far? Sister far. A few of You might have been following us and saw that the summer days&nights of Lina have been spent in South of France. Being far from my sister Lina and her family throughout lockdown was sad to say the least. And sad is not a synonym of summer. But ‘’running towards happiness’’ definitely is. So I packed my bags and took this leap to the unknown new rules of traveling. Would I recommend? Let’s see where it took me. I’m sure my sister would have a lot more to say about all the jewels there are, but hey – by writing this letter I am also making a promise that she will put together not only beautiful, but also useful letter for your next trip to Côte d’Azur very soon.
L’amour in Côte d’Azur – NICE / FRANCE
All starts in Nice. A place that for some might seem too big for a relaxed holiday destination. Would I agree? I am a city girl, so by nature I would always choose bigger cities with the possibility to run away. My experience of Nice never failed me. I guess that it is because at the back of my head I always know that if I have a bad day, I can always visit Mattise museum. It has it all – the old town, the contemporary art scene, the long beach with blue waters and of course – natural wine. Our two favourites, very different, yet both attract lovely crowd – Babel Babel and La Peche a La vigne. Babel Babel offers a contemporary approach to dining and experimenting with natural wines. As for Peche a La vigne – a more traditional way of wine tasting, yet nevertheless their cheese platter is not to be missed.
The Elegance of the Wild – ISOLA d’ ELBA / ITALY
Italy calling. I do not know how your journeys are planned, yet my trips have a tendency to have a remarkable brainstorm session after which I end up saying “Viva Italia”. I sincerely have difficulties comprehending how many beautiful places I still haven’t seen in Italy. Every time it surprises me with new landscapes, food experience and of course – the people. All with their own character, yet always open-hearted. I will completely understand if you say I am blindfolded, yet it is one of the best blindfold to experience. This time, it was Isola d’Elba. Elegant wilderness would be the synonym I would use to describe the island. If there is one place I would choose as a destination to write my first and last novel – without doubts, I would look for that remoteness in Elba. What else? Hiking – so many routes and so many lovely landscapes to take pictures of for your memory warehouse. P.S. I know, holidays is when daily it is one cocktail too many, yet please don’t blame me for that and grab your next favourite Hugo in Portoferraio – Tonnina Elba. Next to it is a beautiful little boutique where the owner Valentina will style your holiday look. With that look, you can head straight to the restaurant “Le Viste“ – few steps shall need to be taken, yet take my words – the view will make up for it.
Architecture of the Golden Hour – PIETRASANTA AND FORTE DEI MARMI / ITALY
When in summer, all seeks lightness, all seeks fleeting. And so do my thoughts. In this sense when it comes to art, I also seek to admire something that is as light as the flow of a curtain during summer breeze. Gentle, yet casting beautiful shadows on the pavement. Pietrasanta, is not only a place for art, but also a place to stop when seeking for calming bellavista. The earthy tones of the town give the sensation of never ending golden hour. If only that was true – at 4 p.m. we find ourselves hiding under an umbrella and considering an early aperitivo. A little too early as few enotecas suggest. Yet not too early for art. My personal favorite which I try not to miss – Orlando Susanna gallery. Yet do not miss the rest, they are beautifully nestled in every tiny street of the old town. When it comes to dinner we choose Sementis, a vegan restaurant with a rotating tasting menu each week – their tomato marmalade is something you will want to bring back home. For the wine menu – check out Enoteca Marcucci. It was the biggest black book of wine I have seen to date. Evenings are never too long when in Italy, yet there are reasons to wait for mornings as well – a lovely early morning ride on the bike by the beach of Forte dei Marmi, stopping by at Bagno Alba for the best Fritto Misto in town. Be careful and protect your plate – the dish is simply too delicious to share. Because holiday calories don’t count.
Lucca for the Tuscan Tales – LUCCA / ITALY
If one wishes to have a beautiful long walk, there is nothing more calming than the walk on the walls of Lucca. Of course, one could say there are lot more interesting things to do in Lucca (Guinigi tower with a garden on top would be one of them), yet the walk will be my favorite memory – exploring the balconies of locals, and seeing them prepare lunch, having the view of the old town just beneath you, feeling the afternoon breeze and passing by the other locals either seated on the benches or having their slow stroll – a calm buongiorno here and there is never too much to ask. It is a city of calm and quality. The streets are not too overcrowded with tourists, you still have a lot of opportunities to get lost in tiny streets and find yourself completely alone. I found a beautiful selection of wine in the Vineria Dolce vita – the owner was the main reason it has become such a delightful experience. It has also become the reason why we passed a family run agriturismo “Al podere di Rosa” that offers a modest selection of wine, yet of marvelous taste. Make sure to raise your eyes when in Lucca – almost all the signs of the shops are kept as they have been ‘’ever since’’ – making it a very beautiful typographic journey. I have accidentally stepped into one of the stores called “Secret“ – do not miss it, I recommend for both – interior and the selection of clothes. If you feel like you want to run away from the crowd and find yourself wondering through the pages of the book – antique, Italian, comics or even english texts – visit La Piazzetta del Libro. If books are not the main reason to love it – you might want to skip it.
Detour for the Soul – MARBELLA / SPAIN
When there is family, there is Spain. Our loveliest and most gorgeous mother was celebrating her birthday in Marbella and there is no chance of missing out – dresses packed and off we go. The short trip was a type of magic one can experience only with family. Marbella has famously won its status as a luxury destination, yet recently it has managed to change and offer something more quirky, young and unpretentious. So this trip has been something of unexpected to me. Apart from being relaxed with my family, we have visited few restaurants worth the mention – Mamzel and La Plage Casanis. Both have offered a very different experience, yet one to remember. La plage Casanis is perfect for that barefoot lunch, whereas mamzel puts some theatre on the table served with French kissing.
P.S. if in Casanis, please order French fries, I do not know what kind of magic they put in it, yet it was the best French fries I have had in my life!
P.P.S. It was also a beautiful reminder of one of the retreats we have organised in Tenerife and convinced our mother to come with us – family holidays are always the ones that bring more laughter to the table. So happy our next retreat is in Italy – just a short flight away for our mum. Have you ever thought of bringing a family member to our next retreat?