Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cuccaro Club: 30x30 Outfit 13

  Dress: Victoria's Secret; Button-up: Consigned at Periwinkle (Calvin Klein) / Belt: Ruche / Shoes: Privo / Earrings: Thrifted / Necklace: Piperlime (Hive & Honey)

We left Lake Como to sunny rays beaming through dark clouds. I split two apples between a few  horses and a skittish foal along the road while the Husband stopped for the shot below...

...then we headed to Italy's Cinque Terre, five charming, cliff-hugging villages along the Med coast just north of Tuscany.

Driving in Cinque Terre is near impossible, so we planned to take the train from the nearby Levanto. We found a great deal on a room at the Cuccaro Club in Suvaro, about 20 miles from Levanto, so we headed there to drop off our luggage and settle in. The drive from Levanto ended up taking 40 minutes, going straight up the mountains in the middle of nowhere. We were pretty wary by the time we got there, but boy were we rewarded. This place was straight out of a 1940s-50s Hollywood film. A perfect blend of African safari and British elegance, complete with a parrot in the lobby, bright colors, a meandering black bear of a sweet dog, and plenty of vintage and safari décor.

Antiques decorate the many halls and verandas and several lovely dining areas spread throughout various levels.

One dining hall in particular, was even decorated with flowered trellises and carousel horses. Isn't it darling?

This dining hall runs along the glass wall of a heated indoor pool complete with water polo nets and old loudspeakers. A jacuzzi room is connected in the back, and to the right is the entrance to the outdoor terrace and pool:

This resort is a virtual maze of sundry treasures. We discovered exercise rooms, hallways with old couches and sewing tables, and partitioned rooms filled with old gaming machines, books, and artwork.

We scored a lovely little room with a balcony {photo up top} where we quickly changed to our swim/hiking gear before heading to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre merits it's own post, coming next. But after a long day of hiking and exploring the Italian Riviera, it sure was nice to return to such a darling little room...

...and all those amenities. First, we hit up the jacuzzi, then the heated pool, then the outdoor pool, and finally the jacuzzi again to warm up. We had them all to ourselves. That's the advantage of staying in the middle of nowhere on a weekday. And I'd say they were quite romantically lit just perfectly for us...

On our way back to our room, we passed a few Italians were playing Wii on a large screen in a room with pinball machines, pool tables, and a Foosball table. In the lobby, locals were chatting in the lobby, watching the equivalent of National Geographic as the parrot molted on his perch. Fancy guests dined as the scent of lemon tarts wafted down the halls. Heavenly, I tell you. Just heavenly.

The next morning we were delighted with a divine breakfast spread of homemade tarts and cakes and breads and jams and local cheeses with delicious juices like apricot and strawberry.

Even more spectacular, however, was that it was included in the room price. Typically, breakfast is extra in Europe.

Somehow we got all this for 57 euro. Thank you, We love you. :)

P.S. To top it all off, the staff was the friendliest we've had since the Normandy bed and breakfast. Very eager to please and friendly. Seriously people, if you ever go to this area, stay here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm no longer bothering to call these "interludes"...

Just a bitty post to do a bit of groveling and let you know I'm still here. So very sorry for the hiatus. My class reunion back East was fabulous. It was such fun to see my old friends! There's a little peeksie above of the absolutely brilliant Edelweiss dress I won and wore. I felt oh so classy and elegant in my silk sheath. Like I should've worn little gloves with pearl buttons. Europe didn't leave the Husband with enough vacay to come with me, so we'll do this dress justice with some nicer shots soon. Anyhow, the very day I returned home I began work. Teachers are waaaay busy at the beginning of the school year. Especially charter school teachers. Who are teaching a new subject for the first time. And teaching four different courses (eek!) So I'm afraid my posts will be a bit sporadic for a while. At least till I get settled into my new job. But I will finish posting this Europe trip & 30x30 eventually!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Villas On the Lake: Outfit 12

Button-up, Pants, Belt: J Crew final sale / Shoes: Privo / Necklace, Earrings: AE /Purse: Nordstrom (bryna nicole)

This was our last full day at Lake Como, and it was supposed to be blustery and rainy . So I only wore the outfit above for dinner, and for the rest of the day I wore the lone hiking outfit I packed with my Keens.

We first went to the Orrido di Bellano, a gorge carved into the mountain where glacier water runs out of the Alps in spectacular falls then flows into the lake. While hiking up the ravine we crossed some interesting décor...

Apparently the gorge is as old. Prehistoric old. I suppose it did look a bit like Jurassic Park. The Husband was quite perturbed at those dinosaurs. He said they ruined perfectly good photos. We then continued deeper into the ravine on wooden platforms built into the rock that allow you to explore the gorge.

While driving to the gorge, the Husband noted a place from which he could dive into the lake {The man's obsessed. Obsessed.} There's an old road with tunnels along the shore that's used for hiking and biking. So we parked along the roadside and hiked down so he could dive in a few times, after which he was a happy little camper. Meanwhile, I gawked at the glimpses I caught of a stone house built into the hillside.

We next got lunch then headed to the Villa del Balbianello in Lenno. It was built in the late 1700s for a Franciscan Cardinal and is one of the most luxurious villas on the lake, with extensive terraced gardens. It's located at the tip of a peninsula and is also famous for having appeared in Star Wars Episode II, Ocean's Twelve, and Casino Royale. Today you can rent it for a wedding. If thousands and thousands of dollars is pocket change for you, of course. 

After hiking up the poorly marked trail and massive hill to the gate, however, we found it was closed for the day. Boo. So we appeased our appetites for luxury by watching this and this video instead, then went to the Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo. And, to spite me for wearing my hiking clothes all day long, the sun decided to come out just as we were graced with picture perfect backgrounds like this stairway to the Villa Carlotta, which, I just realized, I never photographed in entirety. It's massive....

The gardens were lovely and expansive. There were species from all over the world, from cacti to palms and lemon groves and everything in between, but the hydrangeas were my favorite. That's Bellagio across the lake from the hydrangea garden. We went there a few days earlier, remember?

The Villa really is spectacular, and the museum inside is just as interesting. It was built in the mid 1700s for a Milanese marquis then eventually purchased by the Princess Marianna of Prussia as a wedding present to her daughter, Carlotta, after whom the villa is named. The upstairs rooms are richly decorated and furnished, and downstairs is a gallery featuring several marble sculptures, including the famous Cupid and Psyche copy by Canova's pupil. Photographs indoors were prohibited, unfortunately.

After leaving the Villa, I explored Tremezzo a bit while the Husband searched for an ATM. There was a super fancy hotel facing the lake, as well as beautiful views of the Alps...

Once back in Domaso, I showered and changed for one last dinner at our favorite restaurant. This time we got a pizza with white cheese and cream and one with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. We went for a final stroll by the lake and got a last gelato {raspberry and chocolate..YUM!} before heading back to the apartment to play Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride for one last fun-filled night with our friends.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mixed Prints: Yes, Another 30x30 Interlude

 Dress: B Moss / Top: F21 / Scarf: Charlotte Russe / Shoes: J Crew final sale ($15!) / Bracelet, Earrings: Gabes / Bangles: AE

HOW is it time for another EBEW already? C'est pas possible!* I've done a measly three posts since the last one. I can't wait to get this 30x30 behind me. It's actually finished; I just haven't finished posting it. Because the Europe posts take for-ev-a. And I'm trying to get my house in order and take care of things at home, since I've been away most of the summer. Piles of classroom clutter litters my floor as I type. I'm pretending it's not there.

So, down to business. I've been voting for color blocking the past few months and was disappointed it still hasn't won {seriously, how did it not beat yellow? I love yellow and all...but still.} I really just want it to win because it's something I've yet to blog. I've done mixed prints. Or maybe I just want an excuse to buy one of those super cute color blocked dresses out there...

Either way, I embraced defeat and pulled out this old printed wrap dress, threw a stripey shirt and flowery scarf on top and a dotted slip underneath, and bada bing. Loads of mixed prints, all in one outfit. Yet my favorite part is the solid shoes. Extra 40% off of final sale and free shipping with no min. Thank you, J Crew for making my summer. I stuck with a color theme to pull my outfit together, but now I'm wishing I'd been brave enough {or had clothes cool enough} to try something like this.

Everybody, Everywear | Pattern Mixing

P.S. By tomorrow I'd like to have ready my posts for Outfit 12 at the Villa Carlotta and 13 at the 50s-style Cuccaro Club in Italy. But there's a plane ticket with my name on it heading East bright and early tomorrow, so we'll see. I'm spending a week with my family and attending my first class reunion. Remember this dress? Well, I won it. And found some more cost efficient coral shoes and lipstick to go with it. Can't wait to try it out:)
C'est pas possible =  short for Ce n'est pas possible = It's not possible!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lake Como Biking & Cliff Jumping: 30x30 Outfit 11

Top: J Crew final sale / Jean Shorts: Gabes (J Brand ) / Shoes: Privo / Earrings: Urban Outfitters / Sunnies: TJ Maxx (Oscar de la Renta)

On this afternoon, the Husband and I rented bicycles to explore some of the lake and it's quaint villages.

We came across beautiful scenery and Scott went for a swim while I watched swans and duckies play...

...and we laughed from a bridge as a mama duck fed her floating baby fuzzballs. They were so cute, patiently waiting as she dove under water until she surfaced. Then they'd zoom towards her and she'd feed them in turn. Très adorable.

After returning the bikes, we went back to the apartment and made dinner with the Russells. We'd gone to the market for pasta, vegetables, sauce, bread, and ingredients for caprese salad. The mozzarella and tomatoes here are out of this world, especially tossed with fresh basil, arugula, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

That night we played Rook, a favorite old game of my family, though I'm nonetheless an expert. The more interesting part of our day, however, took place this morning. Scott and Rand took off super early this morning in search of this waterfall along the Domaso river. They had no idea how far it was from the town. They just knew to follow it into the mountains and hope they came cross it soon. They arrived back late morning with a few videos of their own and these photos...

So of course, I wanted to go! After lunch, Scott took me to find the falls again. You'll pass classic Italian homes and frescoes on the way {I've never seen so many Virgin Mary tributes as I saw in Italy. They're everywhere. Along roads in the middle of nowhere. On abandoned buildings. Apartment walls. Restrooms. Etc.}...

Then once you get to this bridge, you climb down to the river. Part of the time you can hike along the side, climbing the rocks and walls from the old series of dams, but you have to wade some, too.

And then you come to the falls. I decided to jump from the lower one, because the pool was bigger. Scott swam around first to make sure it was deep enough.

I had to get up my nerve again. Waterfalls always get the best of me. The rushing water when I surface makes me a bit claustrophobic, especially when the fall is this wide. Fortunately, there were hikers passing and their presence encouraged me. Nothing like losing face in front of a bunch of Italians I'll never see again.

After we'd each had several goes...

...the Husband tried to let the current just wash him over, but it wasn't fast enough. I only dared dangle my legs.

When we'd finally had our fill of jumping, we made our way back to town. Scott found a new little friend along the way and I discovered several of these signs at the entrance, which the Husband had conveniently not pointed out to me on the way in and was thankful I didn't see them. He's wise, that one. I'm glad I didn't see them too.

P.S. Ha! I thought I'd get up two posts a day, and I'm getting two a week instead. Sorry I'm so slow. I promise to get the next one up soon, exploring a gorge in Bellano and the fancy Villa Carlotta on the lake.
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