A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about italy

A House in Sicily

A Book Review

A House in Sicily

I haven’t blogged for a long while. I’ve been working on some other projects and (of course) travelling. I thought I’d resume the blog with a review of a book about travelling. The charm of this memoir, A House in Sicily, is its delightful narrator and her storytelling ability. Daphne Phelps tells the story of how she happened to inherit a home on a hilltop in the Sicilian town of Taormina. With virtually no money to care for the house and property, she turns the place into a small hotel and invites her friends from England to come and stay for a small fee. These friends include artists and literary luminaries such as the cranky Roald Dahl, Bertrand Russell, and even Caitlin Thomas. Rumor has it that Greta Garbo once stayed in the house for a summer, although Phelps was too classy to admit this. The book is a series of vignettes about her guests, the struggle she had to keep the house and navigate through the Sicilian legal (or not so legal) system, and about the characters who inhabit Taormina. If you have been to Taormina, the book will make you want to go back. If you haven't, the book will entice you to go. Either way, it's worth reading. By the way, Casa Cuseni is still a hotel where you can stay. I, for one, am planning to do just that.





Posted by teethetrav 14:28 Archived in Italy Tagged travel italy books sicily taormina memoir Comments (0)

Pig Roast with Sting!

Fantasy come true

Tuscan Pig Roast at Sting & Trudie's Place

Here's two of my fantasies rolled into one: Sting and his wife are hosting a pig roast at their estate in Tuscany and (for $2200) the public is invited!

Anyone interested in taking me?

Tender is the night at "Divino Tuscany"
Tuscany is an iconic region that, over the centuries, has produced some of the world's most celebrated wines. A land of unparalleled beauty and extraordinary cuisine, it has an abundance of art and architecture that has prompted UNESCO to populate the region with a cluster of World Heritage sites. "Divino Tuscany" brings together all these features in a 4-day Luxury & Wine Event for wine connoisseurs and VIPs that will take place in Florence and Tuscany from June 2nd to June 5th.

The event provides one-of-a-kind experiences in superb settings with the participation of an exceptional roster of hosts to pay tribute to Tuscany's outstanding winemaking tradition. Over the course of four incredible days, attendees will take part in a breathtaking sequence of wine tastings, seminars, special dinners and enthralling entertainment.

Il Palagio, Sting's Tuscan villa
Wine is the leading theme, but the event encompasses all that revolves around the nectar of Bacchus. Historic wineries, castles and palazzos belonging to ancient, noble families will be opened up just for attendees, and sumptuous food will be served in exquisite surroundings by restaurateurs of the caliber of Giorgio Pinchiorri of Florence's renowned Enoteca Pinchiorri. The program includes an inaugural concert by world-famous violinist, Joshua Bell, and a farewell country barbecue at Il Palagio, Sting and Trudie Styler's beautiful private villa in the Valdarno. For full details of this exceptional event, see our full package description.

Guiding spirits of this signature event are James Suckling, former Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of "Wine Spectator" and one of the world's most influential wine critics, and IMG Artists, the global leader in arts management and a leading producer of cultural and lifestyle festivals. Founding vintners from the Antinori, Frescobaldi, Mazzei, Ricasoli, Il Borro, Petrolo and Castello Banfi estates are also slated for participation. Designed with the highest level of excellence in mind, "Divino Tuscany" is destined to set a new standard in event creation to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification.

Posted by teethetrav 13:48 Archived in Italy Tagged food travel italy wine tuscany sting pig_roast Comments (0)

La Fenice

Venice Opera

DSC02376.jpgIn John Berendt’s book The City of Falling Angels he writes about the mysterious fire that destroyed La Fenice opera house and nearly destroyed all of Venice. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see an opera while I was in Venice and see the magnificent renovation. La Fenice is a golden, sparkling treasure. If you go, be sure you are a buying a seat where you can see the stage. In Italian opera houses, many seats are available where you can’t see without standing and leaning over. It’s kind of like parts of Yankee Stadium. Buyer Beware!
This banner was hanging outside when I visited. DSC02373.jpg Anyone knowing what it means, please comment.


Posted by teethetrav 05:49 Archived in Italy Tagged venice travel italy opera john_berendt la_fenice Comments (0)

Murano, Italy

Venetian Glass

I am obsessed with glass and glass-making. My favorite contemporary artist is Dale Chihuly from Seattle and I never miss a chance to see a piece by him or an exhibit in whatever city I’m in. In fact, I first encountered his work in a PBS documentary that was filmed in –where else?—Venice. This one-eyed genius was floating glass bubbles down the Grand Canal and trying not to get caught by the water police! DSC02350.jpg


Take the vaporetto (water bus) # 41 from San Daniele to Murano and plan to spend the day. Buy a packet of at least ten tickets if you are going to spend a few days. The glass museum is closed on Wednesdays. DSC02351.jpg Wander in and out of the show rooms and ask to see something special and they will take you to their back or upstairs which are museums in and of themselves. Some will offer you a factory tour. Although the hope is that you will make a purchase, it is fine to just be a tourist and take it the beauty of the craft. Although, I HAD to puchase this little jewel! DSC02363.jpg


In Venice, my personal favorite is Seguso glass, but there are many others who I appreciate for their beauty, such as Venini. And of course, because this is after all still Italy, stop for a bite along the water. I had this delicious piatto of seafood and a lovely of glass of wine.DSC02362.jpg

Posted by teethetrav 09:36 Archived in Italy Tagged venice italy glass italian murano Comments (0)



Mario! Mario! Mario! To say that I am a groupie is putting it mildly. I’ve been a fan from his Molto Mario days. I stood in line to get his cookbook signed at a Barnes & Noble in Freehold, NJ. I had a dozen things I wanted to say to him. Like how the soup at ESCA, one of his New York venues, was THE best soup I’ve EVER tasted. When it was my turn to meet him, I stuttered and stumbled like a teenager. Ridiculous. I admit it. I’m obsessed. I’ve watch the entire Spain! series more times than I care to admit and I mimicked his trip to Mallorca and Barcelona. Minus Gwyneth, Bittman and Claudia, sadly. So when Mario teamed with his partner Joe Bastianich and Joe’s mom, the revered Lidia Bastianich and they opened a huge emporium/restaurant…well, I was there. And again; Mario is simply the best. Unstoppable!
EATALY, as this huge space is called, is unique in New York. Located at 200 5th Avenue, there is a café, gelateria, pizza place, beer garden, fish restaurant and more places to eat than there are days of the week. Entering EATALY is to enter Mario heaven. Laughably, the first person I spotted wore his signature orange crocs, although they are not de rigueur by any means; just an homage to the master genius known as Batali.
When I entered EATALY I had two simultaneous thoughts. First, I was on sensory overload. Where to go first? Should I head towards the fresh fish or towards the lovely bakery that was seducing me with the smell of carbohydrates? My second thought was, is there really a recession? Because this overpriced emporium was packed in its second week of existence. My next thought was, “Wow! How many people does EATALY employ?” A lot. And so Mario is certainly doing his bit toward helping the US economy recover. What a risk he took, along with his famous partners Lidia and her son Joe Bastianich.
This space is nearly 50,000 square feet of prime New York City real estate. How did Mario find the confidence, the cohunes, to boldly open this Mecca devoted entirely to Italy, Italian food, and Italian products. Wherever his nerve came from, I’m glad he did it. EATALY will be my Italian home away from Italy. Whenever I need an Italy fix and can’t get there, I’m coming here. Here, I can have my choice of fine olive oil, balsamic vinegars, prosciutto, fresh produce, fish, parmesan reggiano, tapenades, sauces, pastas, gelato as close to the real thing as I’ve had in the states, espresso, brick oven pizza, and wine. DSC02867.jpg I can bring home whatever I can’t find room to eat here. And I ate a lot. Pizza, salamis, gelato, bread with olive oil; everything was delicious.
The prices are absurd. Of course they are. Everything is imported. There is a flat screen tv showing Italian news. In Italian. But considering the price of an airline ticket to Italy and a hotel in Milan where I could go to PECK to purchase similar items, it’s a bargain. I will be there again. Soon. And often. And Mario…like a fine piece of Italian cheese; you get better and better with age.

Posted by teethetrav 15:26 Archived in USA Tagged food shopping italy nyc italian pizza joe avenue pork products mario batali eataly bastianich lidia fifth Comments (0)

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