Bacari in Venice, the local way.

 

‘Gone for an espresso, some bacari & Venetian delights.. local style’

Venice is surrounded with cute little espresso or bacari (this basically refers to the antipasti or tapas way of eating, but with Venetian customs) bars that make the winding streets interesting to roam. You may pass little vegetable stands, chocolate shops, delis and you always want to seek for places, where locals are. We came across a few cute places that I thought should be worth a share, along with the most beautiful views that came along the way. You often find locas eating cicchetti and ordering, “n’ombra de vin” or “uno spritz” standing up at the bar counter or around a wine barrel having a great time.

Walking around here is simple beautiful, I’m so drawn to all the muted blue shades that keep appearing in window shutters and you become so impressed by the attention to detail. I can easily look past the clichés of Venice and observe a little deeper to find a city filled with art and history. I love how dense Venice really is, you keep finding little hidden shops and cafés by accident, which you end up loving.

Have bacari at bistrot (Chat qui rit) and indulge in a cheese and parma ham platter and crab meat with a divine salty reduction. The cheese selection here won some type of award a few years ago and it was a great way to end the meal. Stop for an espresso (also a great cappuccino here) and pastries at a shabby cafe where all the locals lingered at caffé Brasilia Sestiere San Marco 3658a. Locals also love caffeteria Doria, it was buzzing in the mornings with people standing by the bar taking shots of 1euro espresso. There is a great authentic vibe here and equally, in the evenings it crowds with people who come together for wine and apperol. This place has a great atmosphere despite it being close to Saint Mark’s Basilica, that is filled with tourists. While you’re in the neighbourhood, stop at Cibo (Calle dei Fabbri Sestiere Sano Marco 4666) a cute delicatessen that is a jewel in the heart of the city that serves quality meets, cheeses, truffles, pasta and wine that you should for sure indulge in. Still in San Marco neighbourhood, stop for cicchetti (little sandwiches that are tradition in Venice) on Calle Della Malvasia Castello called Osteria al Portego or the hidden I Rusteghi Osteria Enoteca (Corte del Tentor, 5513) that is perhaps a little more “refined” than the traditional bar that has a lovely tiny courtyard with a wonderful wine list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Garden of Venice

 

‘perfectly manicured gardens just a boat ride from the square, welcome to Belmond Hotel Cipriani’

Are we still in Venice? Yes we are, just a five minute boat ride across the lagoon from San Marco square to the island of Giudecca. This luxury retreat make a wonderful getaway from the hassle of Venice, if you are looking for a leisurly afternoon to unwind and slow down.  Hotel Cipriani shares its lush grounds and perfectly manicured gardens that make an amazing post lunch stroll under the rose-covered arches. Did you know that the hotel was opened by Giuseppe Cipriani (1958), the man who founded Harry’s Bar and invented the Bellini cocktail. We tested a Bellini in Harry’s bar and I will tell you, it was exceedingly refreshing and a gorgeous pale pink. My friend and I enjoyed lunch in the restaurant, had a garden salad from their own produce and topped it off with some cod fish. Later we enjoyed some afternoon tea by the poolside with some sweets. Dressed in blue hues and a loose droopy knot, Cipriani is as elegant as I thought it would be making it a dreamy spot for a momentary hide away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Moodboard

Spring calls for loose pants, light-weight shoes and splashes of blue tones. Al fresco frothy coffees, juice figs and bare shoulders to expose those sun-kissed freckles. A little bit of ruffles, puffy sleeves and more time spent outdoors!

blue dress (1 of 1)

spring moodboard2 (1 of 1)

monopoli morning coffee5 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

Feel the Salty Sea Breeze of Monopoli

‘A town that tingles all your senses.’

You know you’re in Apulia, is when you naturally awake in the mornings to the perfect blend of church bells and pigeons cooing on rooftops warming up in the deep sunrays. I open our aqua tinted double balcony doors to witness the soft hues of the old town and soak in the feeling of this coastal town. The low sun flare causes my eyes to twitch and all I here is the occasional vespa buzzing in the backdrop and the sound of enoteca shutters sliding open. The little town slowly comes to life and the subtle charm makes it too easy to fall in love with Monopoli. Now it’s time for that perfect frothy cappuccino, I so deeply crave.

A charismatic town in the Adriatic coast in the province of Bari, Monopoli surrounds with turquoise clear waters that fulfills anyone’s visual and seafood cravings. There is a beautiful aura here, the mornings begin with a flock of fishermen mending their nets at shorefront in Porto Vecchio, while locals gather to sip coffee with newspaper at hand in the main piazza. Life is calm here, the salty sea breeze and harmonious white streets with the occasional cyan door passing you buy creates, without a doubt, a photographic dream.

Just like many other little towns in Puglia, Monopoli fills with intertwining cobbled streets, shaded archways, limestone walls, flowerpot lined allies and little corners that tingle all your senses, the way they should. With a kaleidoscope of cobalt blue or ruby red geranium spilling over balconies, every façade is pinterest worthy and the scents of freshly hung laundry mixed with authentic cooking lingers in the air as you pass numerous local Tavernas. Find tranquility in the small port that still harbors traditional “u vozz” fishing boats as it did a hundred years ago, that are piercing blue and red in color made entirely of wood. They contrast against the golden walls of the castle and illuminate against the glistening sun that spreads over the shallow waters of the bay. Getting lost in the backstreets of the old town will feed your eyes and that chilled glass of dry prosecco will quench your thirst from the heat. Meanwhile, a slow mouth-watering lunch followed by a double shot of espresso in the presence of southern hospitality will feed or actually fulfill your soul in a way that will keep you wanting more. Needless to say, my husband and I have been coming to Italy nine years in a row. This is our happy place.

monopoli morning coffee3 (1 of 1)

monopoli (1 of 1)

Southern Italy is the epitome of slow food, old cities, captivating countryside and intriguing baroque architecture that creates a foundation for the alluring life in Puglia. There is a real appreciation for fresh-pressed olive oil, primitivo wines, old-fashioned pasta making, seafood and local organic food. Monopoli’s white softness comes to life when the sun reflects the winding streets and is most enjoyable when you can look out to sea while digging your fingers in the freshest of seafood. End your days in a cozy vino bar and take a stroll listening to the majestic waves and sneak a fior di latte gelato to make sure your diet doesn’t get the best of you!

Long history short, Monopoli was founded by the Greek, ruled by the Romans and attacked by several invaders. Once a thriving port town, fishermen inhabited the area and hence today the seafaring culture plays a significant and proud role reflecting authentic values of a Mediterranean and Eastern tradition. The name “monos polis” originates from Greek meaning ‘unique city’ and it all makes sense, if you surrender to the richness of the town and get lost in the alluring culture.

Monopoli sits in a great location as it makes exploring the surroundings ideal. Additionally, idyllic Polignano a Mare lays just up the coast and other picturesque towns such as Alberobello, Ostuni and Martina Franca are a scenic fiat 500 ride away. Eat antipasti all day and bring along a great boho dress to match the laid back lifestyle. Carry a camera at all times along with an appetite and get ready for that desired Apulian dream. Monopoli will give you tranquility if you stop and let it capture your heart.

Wander: Explore the neighbouring coastal town, Polignano a Mare. Take a white-washed scenic route through the countryside to one of the great towns like Martina Franca, Ostuni or Loccorrotondo.

Rest: For a luxurious experience, stay at Don Ferrante Dimore that overlooks the entire sea and you can enjoy the little pool on the rooftop terrace. For an equally as charming choice (and less hefty on the wallet), enjoy the charming Palazzo Bregante. It’s a small boutique hotel that has a divine healthy breakfast that is very instagram friendly. We had a room with french balcony overlooking the old town making the location splendid.

Love: Walk around the maze like old town and stop for antipasti in one of the corner tavernas. Take a dip in the water in the little beach and walk along the outerline of the town to whitness the beautiful sea. Monopoli is filled with seafood restaurants, so enjoy all the delights it has to offer.

monopoli Puglia3 (1 of 1)

 

 

The Art of Mindfulness

To me the smell of fresh coffee is one the great inventions of the world, but to drink it in the wilderness is an entirely new experience…

It’s one of those mornings, where the magical snow-dusted countryside shows what Finland or being finnish is all about. I’ve let my worries melt away in the sauna and allowed the comforting calmness of the nature to do its wonders. Getting away from the city allows me to connect with the natural world and the less I get off this, the more dimmer I feel. Our early morning began with a beautiful frothy cappuccino on the frosty lake with an arctic green smoothie bowl full of berries. With the low temperature, the berries almost tasted like candy as they cooled down and become a bit harder. Not a bad way to start the day, I would say!

Nature reminds us that we are part of a large world that is charged with mystery, hidden beauty and wonders to be discovered. I love the crisp dry air that is crackling with energy, the life that you find hidden if you look closely and the actual feeling you get that cannot match with any manmade creation.  A person who spends time in nature can vouch for the effects it has on the mind, body and soul. It’s called freedom.

Apparently people living in the Nordic countries belong to one of the happiest in the world because of their close relationship to nature that has given them an appreciation for a healthy ecological lifestyle. The Nordic way of life has an understanding for authenticity and seeing the beauty around us that correlates to a happier healthier lifestyle.

morning coffee lake (1 of 1)

 

There is so much magic to these snow coated trees.  The intensity to the whiteness almost gives you slight blindness, but makes you appreciate the brightness so much more because of the darker season amongst us. This moment with my hubby on the lake with my cozy sweater, hot mug and fur hat in absolute silence is what the countryside is all about.

Through photography, I’ve learned to become for mindful. Many can say, it’s such a cliché word that often gets thrown around too easily. But practicing mindfulness has heightened my awareness as I wait for the perfect moment to be captured. This allows me to be present and aware of the moment without distractions. Practicing to do so, has given me the art of discovering a whole new world and taking in the surroundings, the real surroundings. My mind is purely focused on what I see and not thinking about my responsibilities and this gives a great sense of peace and a respect towards nature.

arctic style smoothie1 (1 of 1)

 

Green smoothie bowls and makeup free days in the pollutionless air is the key to healthy skin and a positive mind! 

Arctic Green Smoothie ( blend all ingredients together)

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • chunk of ginger
  • 1 grapefruit

arctic style smoothie6 (1 of 1)

arctic style smoothie4 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

Getting lost in Ceglie Messapica ♥

‘Welcome to the cute little, less known town of Ceglie Messapica’

The drive to Ceglie Messapica through the Itria Valley countryside is enough to win your heart if you are new to Apulia. With scattered cone-shaped trulli, farms and century old forests of olive trees lead you to quiet little roads that are marvellous to drive through. This area is characterised by historic towns (AlberobelloMartina FrancaLocorotondo,  Cisternino, Ostuni) that are all worth visiting, charming villages, wooded slopes, vineyards and mile after mile of lush beauty. Being the epitome of slow lifestyle, pumpkin covered gardens pass us along the drive, while shepherds stroll along the hay fields with their sheep and chickens roam freely in backyards. The pot-hole and ravine filled landscape surrounds with streams and natural caves that rests between the Ionian and Adriatic seas.

The drive passes quickly with such beautiful scenery. As we scribble along the country roads in the province of Brindisi with our blue fiat 500 (that we named riccio di mare as it looked like a little sea urchin), we reach our hilltop destination of Ceglie Messapica when the Ducal Castle dominates the skyline. The town has a slight Moorish style to it that dates back to the 15th century making it one of the oldest towns in Puglia. The whitewashed light shines from the old town and immediately I’m taken back by the beauty of the well-preserved historic surroundings. At this point, iphone with instagram rests in one hand and my camera dangles from my shoulder as we are ready to enter the dreamlike town.

ceglie M.4 (1 of 1)

 

With pots of flowers and vines hanging from the tattered baroque balconies, snaking passageways guide us from piazza to ancient churches to the 14th-century Piazza Vecchia. We witnessed a beautiful wedding in one of the smaller churches and the sound of the bells echo along the narrow lanes bouncing from side to side. I could get lost in these alluring streets for hours, with faint pink and smoke blue doors embellishing the limestone walls with iron balconies just above your heads with something green, always hanging down.

The cracked walls and chipped paint from windows and doors are outrageously beautiful, just like in all Apulian old towns. You know when the location is photogenic is when the hanging laundry matches the buildings facade. I could spin along these idyllic streets a little longer, just to get lost in the old beauty…

Not knowing much about Ceglie Messapica, we were however drawn to the food culture, with its supposedly great restaurants that are regularly visited by food critics. After scrolling through pinterest/Michelin guide and seeing a review in the Cucina Italiana magazine we decided to book a table at Cibus restaurant for lunch. Greeted by yellow and red vine tomatoes that hung on the wall for the winter and salami and capocollo are cured above dining tables, Cibus was an amazing dining experience! The chef believes that through food the soul of the region is discovered. We ordered way more than we could eat, from all kinds of antipasti to lamb, roasted rabbit and local sausages.We loved the atmosphere, the philosophy behind the food, the dining experience and left well satisfied

ceglie M. (1 of 1)

ceglie m.2 (1 of 1)

The hospitality in Ceglie Messapica speaks for itself and the less-crowded town compared to its fellow neighbours is equally as charming. It makes the perfect place for a relaxing stroll where you easily lose yourself in the white spiral lanes. This should be followed by a long lunch and drinks in one of its many great tavernas.

Cibus restaurant: Via Chianche di Scarano, 7, 72013 Ceglie Messapica BR

Here you can see the roasted rabbit dish and on the right behind the table is a nut cabinet! How cute is that?!

ceglie M.3 (1 of 1)

 

Prior to lunch, we sat down in a whimsical cafe/bar for a glass of prosecco that was hidden between white curtains overlooking the whitewashed facade of the old buildings. The gentle breeze blew against the curtains and a chow-chow kept eye contact with us, that was resting on the balcony.

ceglie M.13 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-23 Celcius Nordic Lobster lunch

When the temperatures drops to -23 celsius degrees, I can’t think of anything better than a lobster lunch al fresco style… and that’s exactly what my friend and I did on a sunny day at our countryside. The amazing sunlight hit directly on our terrace and we bundled up in our fur, dabbed on some red lipstick and dropped a bottle of bubbly into the snow before the feasting begun!

It was breathtaking, the intense winter sunlight was low, full of flare as it shimmered through the pine trees and reflected off the crystalized lake. Every breath was greeted with a dainty fog that evaporated into the cold air and the crystal glasses were coated with a light layer of frost. I cuddled into a blush coloured oversized knit, put on my favourite ruffle dress (with layers of thermal pants underneath of course), stepped into my uggs and through on my mink. In true nordic style, I skipped on makeup, let my hair run straight and painted on some ruby-red lips for our luxurious lunch. We sat on reindeer and sheep skin and watched the beauty of the countryside amaze us as we sipped on our ice cold drinks. Every now and then a faint gush of wind caused piles of snow to drop from trees and a few ravens circled the blue sky and we enjoyed one blini at a time, a slow divine day.

These turmeric blinis (or mini pancakes) are really easy to make and showcase a great appetizer or canapé in any given occasion. I thought the classic combination of smoked salmon and cream cheese with a bit of seaweed roe on top always works with lobster and a spinach garlic infusion for some freshness.

lobster lunch12 (1 of 1)

How to make turmeric blinis

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk

Mix everything together until it forms a thick batter. Cook “tablespoons” of batter on a non-stick pan over medium heat until the surface starts to bubble. Flip over and voilá, little blinis are formed! Let them cool before adding the toppings. I made two types of toppings to suit our lobster dish.

Smoked salmon filling

  • smoked salmon
  • cream cheese
  • parsley
  • seaweed caviar (fish roe will do as well)

On top of a blini, add some cream cheese, a slice of smoked salmon, a spoonsful of seaweed caviar and chopped parsley. Add ground black pepper on top.

Spinach garlic puree

  • 2 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large grated garlic clove
  • 100g greek yogurt
  • pinch of salt/pepper
  • 1 avocado

Blend into a smooth puree with a handheld blender. And place a dollop onto a blini. Add some rich feta, a spinach leaf and more seaweed caviar. Add ground black pepper on top

 

Sage Garlic Green beans

In a medium heated pan, add a generous amount of butter, about 5 sage leaves and some grated garlic ( a few cloves will do). Give it a good stir and add the green beans. Let it cook for about 7 minutes until they are just aldente. Add a pinch of salt and white pepper and sprinkle with roasted nuts.

Serve the lobster on top of the green beans with a generous scoop of aioli sauce.

lobster lunch8 (1 of 1)

 

lobster lunch4 (1 of 1)

lobster lunch13 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Coffee views in Matera

Matera, Sassi

Matera is a province in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy that is built into a rocky cave-like formation. This is the way to start the morning, overlooking the rooftops of the buildings and sipping on a cappuccino as the sun rises over the rocky outcrop.

 

Matera22 (1 of 1)

Lazy Masseria Days

The Relais Histò San Pietro sul Mar Piccolo, a luxurious 14th-century Puglian masseria

As the sun beamed through our elongated window that opened to the courtyard, it was early morning and time to get ready for breakfast. I put on the fluffy hotel slippers and robe and walked across the room to make myself a cup of hot tea before hopping into the shower. The lovely pale whites of the room are so inviting and the high ceiling gave the 50 square metre lots of space. The light-flooded rooms are hidden behind a dreamy stone facade that creates a real hideaway sanctuary.  Breakfast was enjoyed in the courtyard where the manners cats kept us company as we sipped on our second cappuccino. The fruits (especially the pickled plums), home-made cheeses and free range eggs were just as good as I remembered them to be! The same old dog from five years ago remembered us with its friendly face and immediately we had to sneak it some treats! My blush pearl mules and silk shorts channeled that slow vacation vibe on this warm fall Apulian morning.

Praised by Vanity Fair Italia, lounging by poolside and swimming relaxing laps is exactly what lazy masseria days call for. Down south in Taranto exists a 170 hectare olive grove where the 5 star Relais Histo is hidden. My hubby and I have been here before about five years ago and we thought it was time to experience it again! Cracked pomegranate fruits and prickly pears gate the light grey limestone walls and farmers walk their sheep just outside the premises giving the area a gorgeous countryside feeling. From delicious seafood lunches in the former olive press to espresso under the sun, the evenings ended with calming spa sessions that is the heart of the resort.  Sprawled across 1,750 square metres, the wellness area surrounds with ancient Roman baths and sea-based spa treatment to make your days as comfortable as possible! Until we meet again!

See more here

Is there anything better than swimming in a calming pool and sipping on ice-cold white wine while getting lost in the pages of a good book! I’ve come to the conclusion that Apulian masserias are designed to calm your soul and give you that feeling of utter ease.

 

 

 

 

Gubbio, A Medieval Jewel in Umbria

 

sunset (1 of 1)

 

Gubbio, Umbria

Last summer, my hubby and I scrapped the surface of Gubbio as we spent the evening in the old town for a stroll and dinner. I love the medieval architecture and flock of stores and restaurants that make up the centre. With numerous “hole-in-the-wall enoteca’s“, wine and food is the heart of this town that is known for its abundance of truffles.

With centuries of history behind every corner, every cobblestone evocative street leads you to another gothic palace or church that mesmerised with its stunning preservation. Dating back to the pre-Roman times ,Gubbio is the oldest town in Umbria that is small and angular perched up on the steep slopes of Monte Ingino.

Gubbio is a real culinary treat that has great views over the Umbrian countryside and the architecture spreads of gray limestone that brings you back in time. The cuisine not only includes the intense taste of white truffle but also dishes based around pasta, meat, cheese and vegetable. We walked around the old town and saw stores for pottery, leather, iron, gold and a little bit of embroidery and is evident that the town is rich in historical and artistic heritage. The main attractions include the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli (Consular Palace) with the most magnificent sunset,  the renaissance The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and the cathedral.

Restaurant tip: Officina dei Sapori (Via dei Consoli, 13, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy)

gubbio19 (1 of 1)

gubbio12 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

gubbio18 (1 of 1)