Confiteria Bristol

Confiteria Bristol

Buenos Aires, Argentina

A boy and a girl walk on via Esmeralda. At the end of February, though the summer is about to end, the air in Buenos Aires is still torrid. They have just arrived and today they have no destination. The small Confitería Bristol is the address they are not looking for. The girl orders two vegetarian empanadas, and the boy three with meat, with no hesitations. In front of the convex windows of the confectioner’s that since 1952 lives on the domestic rituals of the local upper middle class, they speak with the man at the counter – a Peruvian who learnt the trade as a boy – and with a distinguished woman whom the confectioner introduces promptly as a regular customer and granddaughter of President Avellaneda. These delicious turnovers of crumbly wavy pastry – the girl will learn to mould them with greater and greater skill – are the main course of an improvised picnic on a bench in the small park in front of the Palacio de Relaciones Internacionales. She bites them slowly, while he wolfs them and smiles with eyes wide open, as he did when he was caught doing some prank as a child. Buenos Aires was his world back then; now it is the city where he goes back and takes his new love.

La Bamba de Areco

La Bamba de Areco

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Only the pampas’ prairie beyond Buenos Aires’ north-western suburbs can silence the enthusiasm that Big Sur glaciers stirred in us. We have just left them. It is a summer Sunday; the wind pampers the trees’ foliage with deep hypnotic caresses. At the end of a dirt road, a young gaucho awaits us near the gate, as sculpturesque and fierce as the horse he controls with minimal moves. We follow him up to the entrance of a purple residence edged in white, along an intimate procession that cuts in half the neat land at sunset. Everything in this maternal rural landscape seems to be cautiously dancing with ancestral moves. The grass is greener, and the sky is airier and higher. This Land has become, also for us, a promise of happiness…

Hub Porteño

Hub Porteño

Buenos Aires, Argentina

‘All happy mornings resemble one another’ – Here I am, Jonathan Safran Foer. We woke up at Hub Porteño with a discreet and innocent jolliness, which even the passing rain drumming on the veranda could not disperse. The wall garden at our back, we sat on the striped sofa and sipped coffee in decorated china, while waiting for our daily medialunas to come out of the oven, stately and fragrant. The historical neighbourhood families resumed their classic routine while the sun dried the smaller puddles. In our spare time, we exercised our idea of luxury: we idled on the roof terrace, a private Eden among building tops, lingered in the big marble bathtub and, when snack time came, treated ourselves to a portion of homemade cake and a mate, while resuming that book about enchanted estancias.

Oviedo

Oviedo

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It is summer in Buenos Aires; lunch regulars start sitting down in Oviedo’s radiant dining room and greet with familiarity the waiters, busy with the last preparations. We get quickly used to ceremonious gestures, faint pleasantries, courtesy, and whispered conversations over spotless tablecloths. A classic world with no imperfections, where a small dose of peculiarity is allowed on the big canvases hanging on the walls, and on the dishes. The chefs’ knowledge and inspiration get to the tables as polished compositions, sometimes geometrical, sometimes more fluid. Every course is a variety of unusual, clear flavours, whose balance surprises you at every bite. A character that takes shape between sober creativity and tradition, between eternal and unconventional.

Big Sur

Big Sur

Buenos Aires, Argentina

“The question I will try to answer is, ‘Why do men wander rather than sit still?’” – wrote Bruce Chatwin to Tom Maschler once. I travel looking for what I know and for what I still don’t. I am certainly looking for my first Paris, the prows where I hid as a child, the luxury palmchat nests and the Sardinian clouds, Hudson River when it leaves behind the last New York City blocks of flats, and the Caribbean after Cape Town…

Proper

Proper

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Some inclinations are already evident when you are young. Like Heinrich Harrer’s (Hüttenberg, 6 July 1912 – Friesach, 7 January 2006), who as a boy won the World Student Championship in downhill skiing and as a grownup, on the other side of the world, after perilous adventures and misfortunes, became master and staunch friend of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, as per his bestseller ‘Seven years in Tibet’.

Masseria Tagliente

Masseria Tagliente

Puglia, Italy

If I had a masseria, I think I’d want it like this one: a luxury family residence with a big, spotless white, Spanish-style façade and five balconies on the piano nobile to see if the black wild horses are back from the woods, if the goats have gone into the shed, and if Brindisi and the Ionian Sea are glittering in the evening. The corner kitchen tiled with majolica ends in a big roof terrace, near St. Martin’s statue…

Masseria Schiuma

Masseria Schiuma

Puglia, Italy

‘Schiuma’ (foam) is a splendid word. It quickly calls to mind high waves’ foam, soft soap bubbles and their rainbows, soft milk, shaving foam that smells like pungent cologne, the lightness of childhood, an adolescence-like goliardic spirit, and an ephemeral consistency that leads you to play at any age. There is a street named Schiuma that from national road S90 – Monopoli to Savelletri – going south, takes you away from the sea and into an unexpected countryside. Masseria Schiuma’s name comes from it. In my opinion, its owners – a sincere Danish couple, graceful and beautiful, Pernille and Lars – love simplicity so much that they did not want to add any more frills or meanings to this place, a temple of private and shared spaces. Every movement of hosts and guests is free and mature…

Palazzo Penelope

Palazzo Penelope

Puglia, Italy

‘32 sq. m. of sea’. Water is the primary element that always fascinated Pino Pascali. The artist re-created his own sea in zinc tubs, each one containing a tone-on-tone variation of the colour of the sea. Pino Pascali, the greatest Apulian artist, was born in Bari on 19th October 1935. His parents came from Polignano a Mare. Very soon, his works emphasized his Mediterranean culture…

Albergo Quattro Fontane

Albergo Quattro Fontane

Venice, Italy

‘The garden of the Finzi-Continis’ was published by Einaudi in 1962. The story takes place between 1938 and 1941, safe from outside events. For many years I have wanted to write about the Finzi-Continis – about Micòl and Alberto, Professor Ermanno and Signora Olga – and about the many others who lived at, or like me frequented, the house in Corso Ercole I d’Este, Ferrara, just before the last war broke out. But the impulse, the prompt, really to do so only occurred for me a year ago, one April Sunday in 1957. I slept at Albergo Quattro Fontane on a lovely May evening. While writing, I realise that in Italian we do not use the word ‘albergo’ anymore, and banally say ‘hotel’ instead. Actually, I am always looking for an albergo, with its poetic meaning of habitual residence. A few more seconds, and I would have heard her voice greeting me. ‘Hello,’ said Micòl, standing on the threshold. ‘How good of you to come.’ I had anticipated everything with great accuracy – everything except the fact that I would kiss her…

Sakeya

Sakeya

Milan, Italy

‘No moon, no blossom. Just me drinking sake, totally alone.’ Matsuo Bashō, 1689. Oku no Hosomichi (‘The Narrow Road to the Interior’) is one of the most important classic books of the Japanese literature. This work by poet Matsuo Bashō is a travelogue written both in prose and verses during a long and perilous walk, a five-month pilgrimage, more than two thousand kilometres long, from the modern Tokyo to the Japanese hinterland. It was the end of the eighteenth century. The master’s itinerary became the opportunity for many to start their own Japanese journey…

Le Tre Stanze

Le Tre Stanze

Florence, Italy

When spring comes, Arctic plants follow some direct and indirect environmental signs to know when they have to wake up from their winter sleep: milder temperatures, longer days and the reduction of sea ice. The bed is high, my legs dangle and my toes sense the ancient carpet. The white linen is an old-time one belonging to home women’s trousseaus. Bells ring as clear as a mother’s voice; they may be the Cathedral’s bells. The smell of cinnamon we fell asleep with is back. The Florentine light can barely filter. There is no sound. Only the young owner of this house moves quietly barefoot around the kitchen, a teaspoon stirring hot coffee. Waking up in this residence at 43 Via dell’Oriuolo is a moment made of small gracious signs. It is an act of generosity by Patrick, a sculptor and photographer. We will talk mainly about Engadin, a place we love in different ways, a place that lingers in our eyes. He is lucky enough to be born there.

Ditta Artigianale

Ditta Artigianale

Florence, Italy

Its shrubs can be some meters high and they produce white fragrant flowers and red fruits. In Yemen and in Ethiopia, a legend says that the stimulating properties of coffee were discovered by observing goats, which ate it and were inebriated by it. A shepherd told a monk. A decoction of toasted coffee beans kept the monk awake, allowing him to pray all night long. The legend spread through countless versions and alterations, and the first cup of coffee arrived from the East to Europe and to the whole world. Ancient and new enterprises were founded on this aromatic and strengthening drink. Making it has become a ritual, and drinking it, too…

Casa Flora

Casa Flora

Venice, Italy

Azure is a rare colour in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. When we see it in nature, it is not proper azure, but the result of light diffraction: it happens with some birds’ feathers, the sky, ice, water and the wings of butterflies. Once squashed, blueberries are red rather than blue. So, which room did you choose? In which one did you sleep? In the azure one. In Casa Flora, the colours of the lagoon were brought into the rooms. There is the shade of green of the narrowest and clearest canals, the most heart-breaking Venetian shade of pink, and the soft azure of our room…

Rocco

Rocco

Rome, Italy

At Rocco’s we put our researches on hold, stop writing, and avoid investigating the history of a place and a menu that are perfectly spontaneous and graceful. As when you meet the ladylike face of a little girl. We take note of all that goodness and promise and do not ask anything more. A big squared blackboard displays season ingredients and goliardic recipes (we are in Rome) made with respect, both written in a model-student writing. Since it is spring, we order stewed peas, white onions au gratin, soft eggs with asparagus, panned chicory, sour black cherry and ricotta tart…

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