Sleep

Villa Tereze

Villa Tereze

Marche, Italy

“The only true voyage of discovery would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes.” (Marcel Proust). Beyond hills that lean on one another at the horizon, sleepy national roads, harmonic rows of vines and iridescent olive trees, home vegetable-gardens and fallow fields. Beyond woods bordering between the slopes, where nature got the better of it, beyond friendly squares in tiny villages, and millenarian strongholds hanging on the highest rises, Renate often waits under the pergola for a Japanese musician, a Polish chef, or a London family to arrive

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.

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…

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.

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