Sardinia Part Three : Bosa

Our last stop on this whirlwind week exploring Sardinia was the medieval town of Bosa, set on the Temo river. Little did I know that we saved the most picturesque for last. The palette of colors stretching before us was reminiscent of a Paul Klee painting, incidentally one of my favorite artists. With this kaleidoscopic view from our hotel room terrace, I was already smitten before even setting foot in the old town.

Mornings and late afternoons were spent lost amidst the maze of colorful streets, each building laden with its own wall of flowers. Streets were lined with recycled tomato cans converted into hand-painted flower pots.  The entire town blossomed beneath the mid-summer sun.




I became completely smitten with the attention to color and detail in this vibrant town. Truly a living painting!

Our last morning we walked up to the castle in the heat, seeking shade while admiring the views from above.


My favorite architecture in Bosa was this strip of pastel colored houses lining the river, once tanneries dating back to the 19th century. Now it seems, perfect for loftlike residences.

The colors of Bosa and the feeling of Sardinia would stay with me for a long time. At least until the next visit.

Sardinia Part Two : The Dunes

Our next destination was Sardinia’s west coast, called Costa Verde for its lush greenery. After making a few stops to explore the mainland and take several dips in the sea during what was in effect a heatwave, we arrived to our home in the dunes.

Sometimes life is most beautiful at its simplest. While I do love five-star luxury, this was a different type of star setting. We slept in what resembled a cabin with a view of the sea, dining on local cheese, bread and wine beneath a sky filled with stars. And if you looked closely enough you may just find one falling. We did.


In the morning we ran down to the sea for a swim on a completely deserted beach. THIS was paradise defined.

We spent the day on the beach taking shade beneath an umbrella and cooling off in the refreshing sea.

Night fell and with the setting sun we continued on to our last destination, one of Sardinia’s most picturesque.

Sardinia Part One : Carloforte

This year for my birthday at the end of July, a certain Italian planned a week in Sardinia. It would be my first time on this island, and his second. We flew into Cagliari, picked up a rental car, stopped by one of the magical beaches Sardinia is known for, and headed to our first destination, the island of San Pietro.

The only town on this island of 6,500 inhabitants is Carloforte. We settled in at charming hotel Villa Pimpina in the town’s center. Our room boasted a grand terrace with views of the town and the sea.


We were completely charmed by Carloforte’s maze of colorful streets and the warmth of its locals. My Italian even spoke with them in dialect. As it turns out, the Carlofortini are of Genovese descent, having arrived to San Pietro via Tunisia in 1738. With them they brought customs and foods from Genoa including focaccia and pesto. Surrounded by tastes of Liguria, we both felt very much at home!

Our mornings were spent exploring the town and mingling with the locals. Afternoons were spent discovering one of San Pietro’s many beaches. Every evening we enjoyed live music and performances in the main square. So much culture for such a small island! For dinner we feasted on tuna dishes, the island’s specialty. Tuna in more ways than I’ve ever imagined, including tuna lasagna, a fast favorite. The best tuna meals were had at Ristorante Da Andrea Osteria della Tonnara, where we even dined two nights in a row. Another favorite restaurant was Al Tonno Di Corsa.

Three days and many birthday celebrations later, it was time to leave San Pietro and return to the mainland. Next stop adventures in Costa Verde…

Torre Aurora in Cinque Terre

Having just returned from holidays in Italy, starting with Sardinia and ending with beautiful moments spent with friends and family in Cinque Terre, I have much to share from the last three weeks. Let me begin with the newest addition to my Insider’s Guide to Monterosso. A must for anyone planning a visit. Torre Aurora has quickly become one of my favorite places for an aperitivo with a view. In all my travels I have yet to discover such stellar cocktails combined with such stunning views.

Opened just two months ago, this bar/restaurant is set in a historic 13th century tower, and run by a local.

From the many terraces you have stunning views of Monterosso, as well as all of Cinque Terre in the distance.



You also have a direct view of one of my favorite restaurants L’Ancora della Tortuga, as well as the beaches of Monterosso.

So what’s on the menu at Torre Aurora? Aside from custom cocktails including the famous Aperol Spritz, you can order small plates of local anchovies or octopus salad. Arrive for dinner and feast on Ligurian specialties including fresh pasta and fish. Just be sure to make a reservation!

In case you’re looking for me during the early evening hours next spring or summer, this is where I’ll be.

Sicily in Paris

The last trip I took to Sicily was both magical and inspirational. After Christmas in Trapani, we headed east to Cefalù followed by Ragusa and Siracusa, the latter being one of our favorite Sicilian cities. The colors and light which are unique to this island led me to create a new bag collection, just in time for the spring and summer seasons. Where better to shoot it than on Paris’s Île Saint-Louis with photographer Catherine O’Hara, who always captures Kasia Dietz handbags so perfectly. Here are a few favorite shots of the new Sicily collection.

By sharing this journey with you in the form of my creations, I hope these bags will inspire you to travel, and maybe even join you. As a special gift, take 20% off all Kasia Dietz handbags using code Sicily. Bon voyage!

Weekend in Lombardia

Traveling to Italy often, I am well acquainted with certain of its 21 regions including Toscana with its rolling hills and capital city Firenze, Trentino and Alto Adige with the majestic Dolomites, and Liguria, my second home in Cinque Terre. On this trip, I discovered another region that quickly became a favorite, Lombardia.

The journey began in the town of Varese, just 55 kilometers north of Milan. I soon realized that this was the perfect spot from which to tour the region. The first stop to discover the magic of Lombardia was the Sanctuary of the Sacro Monte of Varese, 883 meters high, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the top of the hill stood the Pogliaghi House with its enchanting garden, a museum open to all. An eccentric lover of art, Ludovico Pogliaghi began building his house in 1885 and in the years that followed he collected over 1,500 artworks. An artist himself,  the door of Milan’s Duomo was his most famous commission, with the original plaster door sitting just above his grand piano, which I attempted to play.

With church bells ringing in the distance, I walked along this 2 kilometer long “Holy Way” of Sacro Monte, encountering 14 chapels dedicated to the Mysteries of the Rosary. This sacred cobbled path dates back to 1604 when Capuchin friar Giovanni Battista Aguggiari set upon creating it.

Each of the 14 chapels are unique in design and feature statues and frescoes created by major Lombard artists of the seventeenth century. With every encounter I felt the mysterious air of a spiritual past.

The following day another grand villa awaited in nearby Gazzada Schianno. Nineteenth century Villa Cagnola was a sight to behold overlooking French and English gardens and views of the countryside. Most impressive were the treasures hidden on the inside. In addition to a large private collection of Italian paintings from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, the collection of ceramics, both European and Oriental porcelain is awe-inspiring! Certainly worth a visit and an overnight stay.

From here I walked the historic route Via Francisca del Lucomagno to Castiglione Olona, surrounded by fields of blossoming flowers and the splendor of nature.

The fifth century town of Castiglione Olona charmed even from afar. I couldn’t wait to enter its walls.

A lunch stop at Osteria degli Artisti for a plate of strawberry asparagus risotto? There’s a first for everything!

A site worth visiting is La Collegiata, built where once stood the ancient castle. The Collegiate church along with the Baptistry, makes up the Collegiate Museum. Both were decorated by Masolino da Panicale, one of Florence’s most recognized painters.

From here the afternoon continued to Torba Abbey, a former benedictine convent. The annual flower market was taking place and the entire monastery was in bloom!

The next morning it was time to discover Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake after Lake Garda. How best to tour this majestic lake than by sailboat. This may in fact be my preferred mode of transport.

The views were stunning, as the wind sent us sailing along the coast of Lombardia. Complete serenity as we reached a breathtaking monastery built within a cliff.

Santa Caterina del Sasso is one of the most ethereal sights I’ve ever seen.  Legend has it that after surviving a storm, wealthy local merchant Alberto Besozzi dedicated his life to Saint Catherine and had part of this Hermitage built in her honor. The rest as they say, is history.

My days and nights discovering Lombardia were filled with so many moments of awe and inspiration, both natural and spiritual. Enough to last until the next time. Meanwhile, here’s a video for more bella vistas.

 

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