We arrived in Rome in the early evening, after a morning in Manarola. Our hotel of choice- Pallazo Dama.
Not far from Piazza del Popolo, it was originally a Roman townhouse (The former home of the Malaspina dynasty) Now transformed into a stylish, luxurious boutique hotel... with its own pool no less (very rare in Rome)
Rooms with high ceilings and sumptuous velvet details. Its an absolute sanctuary among the hustle and bustle of Rome
A fabulous mix of style and elegance, it pulls off cool but grand... just my kind of place.
And it has one of the most impressive art collections iv ever seen showcased in elaborate gold frames, against impacting navy walls. It really does make quite the statement.
Magnificent sparkling chandeliers hang everywhere, adding to the grandeur. But than the modern touches bring it back down making it contemporary and less formal
You can choose to spend your time at the hotel pool, or in the bar taking in the 1920s decadence, with chandeliers, potted palms, and velvet bar stools.
The very glamorous Pacifico restaurant has the highest ceilings, glittering chandeliers and large arched windows overlooking the garden. Or you can choose to dine alfresco, in the glorious Italian sun.
Just the perfect way to spend our first evening in back in the eternal city
From our hotel in Santa Margherita, we took a day trip to the cinque-terre
I can't tell you how excited I was to visit here, it had been on my bucket list since I first set my eyes on it way back when (probably on pinterest)
It was every bit a beautiful as I had hoped. Super quaint and rustic, with more of seaside fishing town vibe than the other riviera towns.
The prettiest houses in shades of pink, yellow, blue and orange unfolded as we strolled around the town
We made our way to the best viewing point to get the ultimate view of Manarola
Its a beautiful site indeed to see all of the pastel colored houses piled on top of one and other right at the waters edge
We stopped of at a local and very cute little cafe and ordered some fresh croissants and coffee to keep us going.
Before continuing to hike around the town, which in the 35 degree heat was no mean feat. Thanksfully, our desire to explore drove us on
My dress was an older style from Oasis but I did find some similar below
We took in the last views of Manarola before starting our long drive back to Rome for the weekend
Next up on our Italian road trip is Santa Margherita Ligure. Its is that wonderfully old-fashioned kind of Riviera resort. More laid pack than the glittering Portofino... But it still sparkles
We stayed at the Imperial palace hotel. It may have been the shutters and flower boxes that sold me
Its the kind of place that makes your feel like your in a movie from the 50's. Decedent, glamorous and timeless
Said to be one of the most beautiful property's on the riviera, its hard to argue with the incredibly ornate details and murano glass chandeliers. The beautiful belle époque styling had me at hello.
We set of to discover a new town.
Making our way through the geranium line bridge down to the private beach
Dress, similar here
Row upon row of majestic pink riviera architecture lines the promenade, a real feast for the eyes.
Santa Margherita has those sleepy seaside vibes down, with the loveliest touch of glamour. Its a killer combination.
And we were lucky enough to see it in some magically stormy weather. There's something so romantic about a warm day broken by a thunderstorm
We decided to make our way back to the hotel, order up some room service and watch the storm roll in.
Naturally I continued in my usual pasta fashion...
With views across Santa Margherita, id argue these were the best seats in Town.
We always try and squeeze in as many Towns, restaurants and events as possible on our trips that sometimes its so nice to just take it a little easier and enjoy the moment.
We ordered the most delicious chocolate cake, a massive pot of coffee and watched santa Margherita life go by.
We watched the sky change from greys to the prettiest purples and all the shimmering lights of the town flickering over the riviera.
Long leisurely strolls to breakfast, followed by a quick dip on the pool.
It is truly the most relaxing, serene and beautiful place.
However, we must pull ourselves away for new views and an entirely different vibe. Portofino it is...
We swapped the sleepy, golden drenched vistas for something a little more sparkly. Our first views of Portofino, were from the winding, hydrangea laced pathways of our hotel, Belmond hotel splendido. I couldn't think of a better place to view it from
The sun-warmed Paraggi bay and its uninterrupted views over the Italian Riviera are spectacular, and unveil before you on the beautifully scenic stroll down down to the Piazzetta. Portofino is definitely best explored on foot
Here is where you'll find the most insta worthy shot. A scene that despite being all over Insta is no less impactful or breathtaking.
Continue down the steps, and you'll see plaza of Chiesa di San Giorgio peeking at you through the pastel coloured buildings
Until your down at the glorious harbour watching the sail boats bobbing away.
Depending on your mood, you can enjoy a few drinks while you people watch or partake in a little shopping. Or if your like me, do both...
So it turns out that Belmond hotel splendido is somewhere pretty special...
Iv had this place in my sights for the longest time, so its always a delight when it lives up to expectation
And its not just because the property is filled with flowers
Or that it has views of Postitano to die for
Or that it has that old school Italian riviera thing down to a fine art
Perhaps... its the champagne bar?
Its something you cant put into words... so i'll try and let the photos do the talking
Hotel splendido is the kind of place where I just couldn't put my camera down
Its the perfect setting for a Champagne cocktail, while you watch the boats sailing past.
And lunch at La Terrazza is no less an event.
Ending with the most decadent chocolatey deserts
That taste as fabulous as they look.
After spending the morning and afternoon in Montegrioggi and Sienna, we headed to the little town of Volterra for the evening.
As I said in my previous post, our trip to Volterra was totally inspired by the Twilight Movies, although its not where all of the scenes fro the movie were filmed.
And with its medieval streets situated on a hill and built from sienna (or cinnamon brown) stone, and red and white flags at half mast it didn't disappoint
It really is like going back in time
We strolled around the cobbled streets, picked up some gelato and found the Pinacoteca e museo civico (a medieval art museum) which was just gorgeous
And then we hopped in the car and headed to San Gimignano, another walled medieval city not far from Volterra
Taking in more views of the gorgeous countryside along the way
Much bigger and perhaps a little more touristy than Volterra, its still super pretty and definitely worth a stop on your Tuscan tour
San gimignano is flanked by blue flags at half mast everywhere... which really made the most incredible sight.
We left San Gimignano just as golden hour was hitting and we were begging tire of medieval streets and gelato
Which made for the most beautiful views over the Tuscan countryside on the drive back to the hotel
No matter how much or how little you have been travelling in the past, if you are like most people then this is one of your main goals in life... its definitely mine. The fact of the matter is that the more you travel, the more of life you get to experience , so it is definitely something that you want to think about.
The truth is that there are many interesting and varied places you can go, but often it is best to begin with some of the simpler and more well visited places. The beauty of such destinations is that you at least know that you are going to have a good time, because they are tried and tested by so many people. In this post, im going to take a look at a few of the really classic holiday destinations that you might want to consider for your next jaunt abroad.
For Brits in particular, Spain is just about the most popular tourist destination, and there is a very good reason for that( I now consider myself an expert after 3 years). Because it is so close and relatively inexpensive to get to, it can be a much less stressful travel destination - but still somewhere you an have a great time and enjoy yourself as much as you could anywhere in the world. What’s more, Spain is always surprisingly varied too,with an abundance of culture and history.You would never going to be bored or feel as though you don’t have enough to do. You could go and do the party thing and find a luxury apartment to rent in Marbella, which is a particularly popular option and great for a weekend with the girls (see my post here) Or you might want to go to the cities instead, and visit Barcelona (one of my all time favorite city's) or Madrid. In any case, you will find that its a great way to have a holiday, and is likely to leave you wanting more - which is good news, because you can always easily go back.
France is much more than just its capital of love, although that is of course one of the main reasons for visiting( I was actually both married and engaged here). You could easily spend a week in Paris alone visiting the many restaurants, world-class museums and art galleries, and incredibly famous structures. But there is much more to France which you might consider too, and in a sense a whole other side of it. If you visit the Alps, for instance, you can expect a snow-drift sunny landscape of joy, and possibly even try your hand (and feet) at a spot of snowboarding or skiing. Or you could just while away the days in a small French town in Provence, eating some of the best food in the world. It’s up to you, but in any case this classic destination is a must-do at least once in your life. PS its my all time favorite country... if that's not praise I don't know what is
Australia is tempting and popular for many reasons, but perhaps most of all due to its sheer size and variation. No matter what it is that you are looking for, you will find that you are able to see it or do it in this beautiful country. What’s more, once you have paid for the flight over there, the cost of living is very small, so in many ways it ends up being a fairly cheap holiday.
Next stop on our Italian road trip was Siena... which has a reputation for being Tuscany's most beautiful medieval city
It is rustic and earthy and grand all at the same time
After the strongest coffee we could find (boy those Italians make the BEST coffee)
We headed to the heart of Sienna, Il Campo, known worldwide for the famous Palio run (a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer) also Siena and the Palio was featured in the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.
And took in the view of the red Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, Torre del Mangia which was eerily surrounded by hundreds of birds... which only added to the spectacle
In contrast to the red tower, the white marble of the Duomo in lies in a piazza above the Piazza del Campo, a great Gothic building filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio. And it is quite the sight to admire...
Despite being constantly photo bombed by a bus loads of tourists
Once we had explored the incredible city of Siena we headed off to Monteriggioni, a medieval walled village about a 30 minute drive away.
I instantly fell in love with Monteriggioni. For me it is one of the cutest villages in Tuscany.
Its really tiny, but super quaint and has charm and character by the bucket load. Add in some views of the Tuscan countryside and you have a real win.
We found the cutest place to stop for lunch in the main square, where the pasta in freshly made in an open kitchen
With grape vines growing all around the porch, take a seat outside on the Piazza and smell the freshly made pasta dishes being served up
II Pozzo has been going for over 40 years, and after the mot incredible lunch I can absolutely see why.
We ate the most incredible pizza and gnocchi for the trip here. And in a country where all the pizza and pasta is incredible, this is high praise indeed.
We discovered that Monteriggioni Castle was surrounded not by water but by coal that would be lit in case of attack. Now that would have been a sight to see!
We chose Vignamaggio for our base for the next few days and arrived during golden hour.
Halfway between Florence and Siena, and set in the hills of the Chianti Classico region, the estate overlooks a countryside landscape, of forests, vineyards and ancient hamlets scattered about on the surrounding hills
Its the kind of place you could explore for days, and never want to leave.
So romantically Tuscan, with details upon details upon details all bathed in magical golden hues
Fresh lemon and orange blossom fills the air, adding to the faiy tale vibe all around the Renaissance villa
And then there are the views! Everything you could dream of for a Tuscan romance
We spent hours exploring the grounds. Discovering things to love. Breathing it in, in all its glory
Finding olive groves, down secret pathways. There is nothing like being surrounded by nature
Each view of the countryside more enchanting then the last. This place really is all about the magnificent grounds
The grounds are immense, it even has its own organic farm, and vinyards
We made our way back to our room, and shared a bottle of the estates red
After settling in, we headed out for dinner... naturally as the sun was setting over the Tuscan countryside.
We took our seats on the panoramic terrace, with the best views over the valley.
With the loveliest seasonal menu to choose from we were spoilt for choice
We ordered the sharing platter...
Followed by the freshest pasta... and than chocolate desert.
I thought id share with you my recipe for Lavender and rose petal bath salts. These make fabulous, thoughtful gifts for friends and also look great in jars in your bathroom.
Not only do they look great, they are excellent for those days when you just want to soak in the bath and relax. Your skin feels amazing afterwards and the lavender really helps you get the best nights sleep. They also have the following benefits
I like to combine a few different types of salt, for their specific benefits, but also because the different textures add to the look and make the prettiest bathsalt.
Start with Epsom Salts and Tidemans soothing sea salts, Both available at any health food shop, such as wholefoods. I purchased mine at amazon
Next take magnesium flakes (great for the following)
Now take some dried Lavender. I actually picked this from my garden.I laid it flat on a wire rack on the windowsill and waited until it had dried. If you don't have any growing in your garden (or a friends/neighbours try your local florists.
My secret ingredient which really brings these together is Loccitane relaxing essential oil blend
Its a subtle blend of Lavender, Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Geranium pure essential oils has a delicate scent which helps to soothe the senses for a moment of pure relaxation, and perfect if you need a good nights sleep.
Combine half the packet of each type of salt. You can save the rest for your next batch. Add in 10- 12 drops of the oil. Next, flake off the dried lavender petals into the bowl. Save a couple of sprigs for decoration. Add in a handful of dried rose buds, or petals If you cant find the rose buds (I picked mine up on a trip to Marrakech).
Don't all of the ingredients combined look super pretty?
Give it all one big stir and spoon into a pretty apothecary glass jar. You can also find some smaller jars to give to friends as gifts. Add some lavender sprigs on top for decoration. And there you have it...
I hope you found this recipe useful and would love to know if you give it a try. Let me know below in the comments
For more beauty tips see here
A travel, beauty and lifestyle blog with the occasional afternoon tea by Angelina Belle
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