Desired Destination: Morocco

01/10/2012 § 2 Comments

When the weather turns cooler, my wanderlust for warmer climates always picks up.  I’ve frequently forgone the usual trip home for Thanksgiving in favor of a long international journey somewhere warm.  Last year it was Argentina, two years before that I went to Egypt, and lately my mind has returned to North Africa.  Morocco has officially made its way to the very top of my Desired Destination shortlist somehow, fueled at least in part by the images and inspiration I have been collecting on Pinterest.

My trip to the Maghreb probably isn’t all that far off with flights hovering around $1,000 and no annoying visa procedure for US citizens, but until that day comes,  you can find me wandering among my pictures, wistfully wishing for the smell of fragrantly perfumed tobacco, oranges and coriander, the taste of mint tea and dates, the feel of crisp linen against my body and cool tiled floors beneath my feet, and the sound of the call to prayer at dawn and the souk at dusk.

The harbor town of Essaouira.

Dying to stay at L’Heure Bleue hotel in Essaouira…gorgeous!

Marrakech, the Ochre City.

YSL in Morocco.

YSL at home in Marrakech, what is now known as the Majorelle Garden.


All images via Pinterest.

Quite Continental Desired Destinations
~*~Travel Charmingly

Desired Destination: Las Calles de Borges

08/08/2012 § 1 Comment

True, I’ve already been to Buenos Aires.  But there is something about the land of polo and Peron that keeps calling my name, not least of which was finding Ian Ruschel‘s gorgeous short film in which he follows a fictitious Jorge Luis Borges through the city.  If you haven’t yet been, you must. go. immediately.

In the meantime: see my trip here,
find a few of my favorite places to antique in BA here,
and see my trip to the Argentine Polo Open here.

Quite Continental Desired Destinations
~*~Travel Charmingly~*~

Desired Destination: EuroLapse

27/07/2012 § Leave a comment

Because I’ve not yet taken a big trip this year and because I’m a complete sucker for well done time-lapse photography, I’ve decided that David Kosmos Smith‘s EuroLapse might just be the next best thing.   A gorgeous, wanderlust-inducing tour of Europe, EuroLapse features the cities of London, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Milan, among others.  Do yourself a favor and take a 4.51 minute, no passport required vacation (preferably in full screen).

Sidenote: if you’d rather a trip to Florida, David’s got you covered there as well.

Quite Continental Desired Destinations
~*~Travel Charmingly~*~

Desired Destination: Palazzo Margherita

21/02/2012 § 1 Comment

The Palazzo Margherita, located in the town of Bernalda, Italy was built in 1892 by the Margherita family.  Purchased in 2004 by Francis Ford Coppola, the palazzo has been transformed into a tiny (only nine guestrooms) luxury hotel with the kind of interiors that give me heart palpitations.  No staid adherence to one single style here, rather it is the combination of the expertise of Parisian designer Jacques Grance and the input of members of the Coppola clan.  This gorgeous hotel has a cosmopolitan and sophisticated feel, with a healthy dose of Belle Époque.

Hello salon, I think I love you…

…oh yes, it’s quite official now.

The owner of other small hotels in Belize, Guatemala, Argentina and New Orleans, this property was a labor of love for Coppola, as his grandfather, Agostino Coppola, was born in the town of Bernalda.  Bernalda, a small hilltop town near the Ionian Sea in the Bazilicata region of Southern Italy, is not a major tourist attraction, which I think makes this dramatically luxurious hotel even more alluring.  Can you not imagine long lazy days wandering the countryside and exploring the town, lounging in the sun by the pool, soaking in those glorious tubs?

I definitely can.

The Palazzo was also featured in the March 2012 World of Interiors.

Palazzo Margherita
Corso Umberto 64
75012 Bernalda (MT)

Quite Continental Desired Destinations
~*~Travel Charmingly~*~
All images via Palazzo Margherita and the WSJ.

Desired Destination: Yosemite National Park

27/01/2012 § 3 Comments

Too amazing not to share.  Definitely watch this full screen!
Via Project Yosemite.

Would you believe I was born and raised in California and have yet to visit Yosemite National Park?  After viewing this, our very first national park (technically, as it was created in 1864, ahead of Yellowstone in 1872) has made a massive jump on my shortlist of Desired Destinations.

Have you been?  Should I camp?*

*Please note that I have never once in my life been camping.**
**My Mother would beg to differ on this point (please see below).   I shall respond by saying that spending a weekend in a massive RV with a microwave and cable television is not really camping.

Desired Destination: Siena

24/01/2012 § 3 Comments

Church of San Domenico, Siena.

With all the dispatches a few weeks back from Florence for Pitti Immagine Uomo, my thoughts couldn’t help but turn to the time I spent studying abroad in the same city.  I loved living in Firenze, just off of Piazza Savonarola, in a tiny and charming apartment that originally served as servant’s quarters for a massive home owned by an old and aristocratic family.  As I looked at the countless photographs of the peacocking at the trade shows, I couldn’t help but look past the — well-dressed, of course — men, to the city that was peeking around the edges, and remember what living in Tuscany felt like.

My latest Desired Destination is one of my favorite places in Tuscany: the tiny, medieval town of Siena.  Approximately one hour south of Florence by car, Siena is noted for its sport, its fierce neighborhood loyalties, and its ancient history.  The town is divided into seventeen contrade, or wards, each with distinct boundaries and identifiable symbols and animal mascots.  While originally instated to provide military support and initially organized by trade, the contrade have evolved into extremely patriotic neighborhood associations: a resident of Siena will be baptized, married and eulogized, all within his or her contrade, and as you walk through the town, you’ll find the symbols prominently featured everywhere — as almost all contrade have declared rivals and allies, boundaries are very important.  These rivalries reach a fever pitch during the Palio, a biannual horse race that has been run in Siena since the 14th century.

The symbol of Siena: Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf
Actually, this is Senius and Aschius, sons of Remus. (Thanks to Simon for the correction!)
“Legend has it that the city was founded by Remus’ sons Senius and Aschius who stole the statue of the she-wolf from Apollo’s temple. Senius rode a black horse, Aschius a white steed. Those colours form the city’s heraldic colour scheme black and white while the city emblem is the same as Rome – the she-wolf and breast-feeding twins.” Via.
Palazzo Salimbeni, piazza Salimbeni.
Headquarters of the oldest bank in the world, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena,
which has been in operation since 1472.
Piazza del Campo.

The Palio is run in Siena’s historic center, the Piazza del Campo.  Spectators fill the Piazza to the brim, with wealthier spectators enjoying the view from balconies above.  With layers of dirt packed over the stone, the horses and riders must complete three loops around the Piazza as fast as possible.  Complicating matters are the Piazza’s sharp turns and the fact that the jockeys must ride bareback —  injuries are frequent and it is not uncommon for horses to compete and win the race after discarding their graceless riders.  At each race, ten contrade are represented, alliances are tested and rampant bribery is rumored, in this ultimate competition for bragging rights and glory that is much unchanged since it was first run in the 14th century.

Spectators in the Piazza del Campo, 1947.  Photos by Walter Sanders for LIFE.

Each contrade brings their horse into their church for a pre-race blessing.

Horse racing not your thing?  Fear not.  Siena’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site assures that there is something for almost everyone, especially if you like art and churches.  There are the beautiful secular frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico and the amazingly elaborate Duomo di Siena to see.  However, if you prefer to simply wander about the old winding streets, I wouldn’t argue.  And definitely bring home some of the beautiful and brightly painted ceramics Siena is known for — contrade specific, of course.

For accommodations, turn to Hotel Certosa di Maggiano.  Originally a Carthusian monastery built in 1394, the property changed hands and fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1969 and eventually converted by Anna Grossi Recordati into the luxury hotel it is today.  Surrounded by six acres of countryside and boasting one of the best restaurants in the world, chef Paolo Lopriore’s Il Canto, the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Siena, conveniently located only one kilometer from the town.

Images via Hotel Certosa di Maggiano.

Currently closed for the winter, this darling hotel is set to reopen on March 16.

Perhaps I should book a room for when Pitti rolls around again in June…

Hotel Certosa di Maggiano
Strada di Certosa, 82
53100 Sienna Siena, Italy
0577 288 180

Desired Destination: Gloucestershire {The Badminton Estate, Calcot Manor, Sudeley Castle}

23/12/2011 § 6 Comments

The Great Hall at the Badminton Estate.

After finding photos of the Beaufort Hunt in 1949, I immediately wanted to see the sprawling estate that I noticed was peeking around the edges.  The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort live at the Badminton Estate in Gloucestershire, England, two hours west of London.  One look at the Great Hall (pictured above) and I knew I was in love…and in urgent need of a hop across the pond to visit Gloucestershire.

Thus, Gloucestershire is my first Desired Destination feature.

It turns out the Duke lets some of the Estate’s cottages periodically. 
If I moved, would you come and visit me?

Badminton Church, built by the 5th Duke in 1785.

The east front.

The clock tower.

The stables.

And yes, the Badminton Estate is where the sport takes its name, although it isn’t known why, as the sport actually traces its roots back to mid-18th century India and the bored British officers stationed there.  The present-day Badminton is open for special events, garden tours, and The Badminton Shoot, but is probably best known now for hosting the annual Badminton Horse Trials in May.  I would love to be there for the prestigious three-day event.

The Badminton Estate
South Gloucestershire
Tel:  +44 (0) 1454 218 203

After a long day knocking about Badminton, I would check into Calcot Manor, a 35-room country house hotel set on 220 acres of meadowland that was established in the 1300s.  Thoroughly modernized while remaining true to the storied heritage of the home, Calcot Manor also boasts one of the best spas in the UK, the Calcot Spa.  It is simply gorgeous and would be a perfect home base for my relaxing minibreak in the British countryside.

Calcot Manor
Near Tetbury
Tel: +44 (0) 1666 890 391

I’d also make a point to visit Sudeley Castle, best known as the final resting place of Queen Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last and surviving wife.  With a long history that dates back to the tenth century, the Castle fell into disrepair after the Civil War and remained that way until its rescue in 1837 by brothers John and William Dent — of the fine accessories and glovemaking Dents, from Worcester — and its subsequent restoration.  The Castle has remained a Dent family home since that time, and was opened up to the public in 1969.  During this year’s season (1 April through 28 October, 2012) visitors can wander on their own through the gardens and inside the Castle’s original 15th century west wing, as well as take in a number of exhibitions.  Offered on a more limited basis are guided tours through the Castle apartments where the family currently resides.  Also of note this year at the Castle is the Queen Katherine Parr Quincentenary, marking 500 years since her birth.

Sudeley Castle
GL54 5JD
Tel: +44 (0) 1242 602 308

Images via Badminton House and Calcot Manor.

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