Sleep

Albergo Quattro Fontane

Albergo Quattro Fontane

Venice, Italy

(IT) “Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini” fu pubblicato da Einaudi nel 1962, il romanzo si svolge tra il 1938 e il 1941 e sembra accadere al riparo da quello che stava succedendo fuori. Da molti anni desideravo scrivere dei Finzi-Contini – di Micòl e di Alberto, del professor Ermanno e della signora Olga – e di quanti altri abitavano o come me frequentavano la casa di corso Ercole I d’Este, a Ferrara, poco prima che scoppiasse l’ultima guerra. Ma l’impulso, la spinta a farlo veramente, li ebbi soltanto un anno fa, una domenica d’aprile del 1957. Ho dormito all’Albergo Quattro Fontane una sera bella di maggio. Scrivendo ora, mi rendo conto che non usiamo quasi più la parola “albergo”, diciamo banalmente “hotel”, mentre io in fondo cerco dappertutto un “albergo”, con il suo significato poetico di dimora abituale, residenza. Ancora qualche secondo, e avrei udito la sua voce, il suo «ciao». «Ciao» disse Micòl, ferma sulla soglia. «Che bravo, a venire.» Avevo previsto tutto con molta esattezza: tutto, tranne che l’avrei baciata…

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.

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…

North Branch Inn

North Branch Inn

Catskills, Usa

Looking out from the Queen Room, in the softened light of a cloudless Saturday, you can experience the feeling of waking up in the suspended atmosphere of a secluded American province. As if the charm of a silent North American village was not a memorable morning by itself, imagine going down the creaky wooden stairs of the Post Office House, crossing the quiet North Branch Road, breathing fresh air, and entering the Main Inn House. Last night you sipped cider at the counter, then had a substantial late dinner and played bowling. Imagine filling a mug with freshly roasted coffee, a dish with apple and cinnamon tarts, and a bowl with granola and full-bodied farm milk. The smell of burned wood, of an outdoor Saturday, of woods. God bless America.

The Jane Hotel

The Jane Hotel

New York, Usa

It is impossible, as soon as you get in front of the stairs of this picturesque hotel by the Hudson River, not to recall to memory the latest fantastic film by Wes Anderson. Above all, it happens thanks to the concierges’ look, but also thanks to the enduring peculiar and timeless atmosphere that Jane Hotel maintains since its early days. Do not choose a single room with shared bathroom if you do not have a strong adaptability; do it instead if you have a weakness for unconventional accommodations and/or for the tiny compartments of yesteryear trains.

Totem Flaine

Totem Flaine

Flaine, France

This story does not begin on a mid-January Friday, while we gather our mountain clothes, boots, maps, two old issues of Meridiani and a guidebook into our tartan bag. It starts on the day Éric Boissonnas – a visionary entrepreneur – and Gérard Chervaz – an architect – discover a plot of plain protected by the spotless faces of Grand Massif, in Haute-Savoie. Thanks to that love at first sight, and to the urban project Éric and his wife Sylvie – art and music lovers – carried out in the following years with architect Marcel Breuer, today we follow at a walking pace the whims of a D106 covered with snow, slowly enter Flaine, and leave our luggage at the reception desk of Totem, the only hotel in town…

La Pedevilla

La Pedevilla

South-Tyrol, Italy

The warmth of the hygge helps the Danish endure the long Scandinavian winter. The word was coined by the Norwegian neighbours in 1700, and represents that mix of family harmony, attention for details and joie de vivre that makes us think nostalgically of our journeys to the North. Architects Caroline and Armin have their own idea of a hygge and, after you have lived among the larch-wood and arolla-pine wood walls of their cottage hanging to the mountainside, you will be delighted by it. You will take with you some of their style and peace, and make good use of it…

Atemporal

Atemporal

Lima, Perù

The whiteness of the light and the chirping of tropical birds fill the room on the first floor – the room with big windows and a big white cotton bed – and wake us up. We take a glance outside and find the small Santa Maria, a secondary aristocratic street in Miraflores, unknown to taxi drivers. Exactly where Miraflores gives way to San Isidro and to the enchanting olive-tree wood named El Olivar, and further on to the eighteenth-century hacienda of Astrid and Gaston. Taxi drivers do not know this new ‘hotelito’, and we will not show them. Every time we come here, we will ask to be dropped at Ovalo Gutierrez, and so avoid disturbing the quietness of Santa Maria and this breathtaking house. We are the queens of a small 1940s residence that makes you proud every time you cross its gates. The delicious breakfast is made of gentle portions and a veranda that opens on the garden, where they are bedding a new lemon tree. Sometimes an example of the most perfect and modern hospitality can be found in unexpected towns.

Casa da Dinà

Casa da Dinà

Odemira, Portugal

After having collected fresh eggs in the henhouse, Dinà starts preparing the strawberry tart that her guests will taste while it is still warm. Baskets full of bread and croissant, tasty squeezed fruit juices, seasonal fruit salads and mocha coffee will also be ready soon. In the meantime Philippe will serve every single dish with an innate old-fashioned elegance. Just a few rooms are available, all exceptionally tastefully furnished with just the essentials: a bed, a desk, a lamp, a bench, a rug and a vase of fresh flowers. Plus a painting of the artist of the house. Do not leave Casa da Dinà before having visited Philippe’s atelier and having listened to his inspiring tales.

La Granja Ibiza

La Granja Ibiza

Ibiza, Spain

South American dinosaurs might have reached Australia through Antarctica. Such conclusion was drawn by analysing two fossils of two species of very big dinosaurs that were found in Queensland, Australia. I suspect it was the privilege of collecting strolls in the amazing vegetable gardens of Babylonstoren in South Africa, of Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania, of Harald Gasser in the Isarco Valley, of many organic farms in Northern California. I am under the impression it was all the years I spent travelling throughout the world and jotting down about leaves, flowers and fruits. Both activities were my training to cross the gates of La Granja, a Mediterranean farmhouse with an exotic soul, and exchange some words about the harvest of the day with its wonderful vigorous farmers. The moment you order it in the finca, salad is picked under the eyes of Cocò, the black pig, and of the pony that shares his pen and lettuce leaves. In any big private ‘fruit and vegetable garden’, eating all the produce is an activity that involves your sight, taste, senses of smell and touch, and we instinctively yield to it. Moreover, the nature in Ibiza has bold colours even on a cloudy day. And it is just a two-hour flight away from Milan.

Los Enamorados

Los Enamorados

Ibiza, Spain

The blue leaves of a Begonia pavonina help the plant to survive in a dimly lit environment. Roze and Pierre seem to believe in colours and their thaumaturgic power. They know how to master them to the point that I completely melt and blend with their kaleidoscope. What do I have in common with the rust-coloured linen napkin, the emerald green, the mustard, the crimson of the long veranda corridor, the lobster-red of the crochet crab on my bed, the shiny ochre of bamboo? I have been looking for an answer in the smooth rooms of Medina’s riads, in the most eccentric French ceramics, in the memories of still unvisited places on faraway tropical islands. Los Enamorados is many lives together. It is also an overpowering love, two lovers waiting for the sweetest sunrises and sunsets in a small fishermen’s port, protected by crossing rocks and greenery…

Masseria Moroseta

Masseria Moroseta

Puglia, Italy

There are books of which I underline entire sentences. These are the books that I keep on my desk and entrust to friends visiting me at home. Masseria Moroseta is like that – a poetic tale about which I want to remember and share each line: the spartan, thin spigot of the set-aside fountain; the staircase standing out against the lively light-blue sky of a summer day in the South; the peace and quiet that permeate the white backyard. I also want to keep alive the memory of the dog Beppe, lazily moving from one shade to the other…

São Lourenço do Barrocal

São Lourenço do Barrocal

Monsaraz, Portugal

Whitewashed ranches surrounded by golden fields and filled with black and white souvenirs have seen a family passing the baton to the next generation for two centuries. Here, old tools and yellowed boxes are upgraded to decorations. Every morning (freshly roasted) boiling coffee is served in flagons made of iron and glass. Handmade ceramic sets are painted in the perfect tone of light blue and the small bazar can be compared to our favourite concept stores in Paris…

Pensão Agrícola

Pensão Agrícola

Tavira, Portugal

We remember every detail of our stay at Pensão Agrícola. First of all its geometry, the typical essential and fascinating one of Olhão’s houses, with their white walls combined together to create perfect angles. Then comes the fragrance of granola just taken out of the oven and let on a tray to cool down slowly. There is also Maria, so elegant in her pale grey dress, giving us squeezed melon juice to alleviate the hot summer in Tavira (and that robust cotton napkin with a tiny fringe on one edge)…

Uva do Monte – Blueberry Farm

Uva do Monte – Blueberry Farm

Melides, Portugal

This is how we spent our days: we woke up in a pastel-pink box and took a few steps in the warm air to reach a desert patio. We then met the other morning guests while the bonfire lingering on from the previous night drew intricate patterns of smoke…

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