Tag Archives: shopping

Christmas Gift List 2016

A few of my favourite things for or inspired by my travels…

Fashionable jewellery by Angela Caputi: Fun and fresh, Florence’s Angela Caputi offers colourful designs and modern unique pieces. This Christmas she has launched a special Natale edition. www.angelacaputi.com

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Cookbooks: This year there were quiet a few exciting cookbooks that not only showcased taste temptations, but were also virtual travel books onto themselves. Here are the ones that transported me.  Amazon.com

Florentine: Food and Stories from the Renaissance City by Emiko Davies

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Tasting Rome by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill

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Rome by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi

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Home Scents of Italy at Aqua Flor, Firenze: Anything in this Florentine shop is lush and feels very special. Their home scents with diffuser bottles and sticks offer sophisticated luxurious fragrances. www.florenceparfum.com

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Pocket travel camera the Leica C: Compact camera with a lot of punch, the Leica C camera is easy to carry, has a quality lens, and even a wi-fi option allowing for wireless transfer between camera and iPhone for those sharp photos on Instagram and social media. Leica-Camera.com

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Classic Panettone: Excellent for giving to a family, as a hostess gift, or just to your mamma, you can’t go wrong with this traditional Italian bread. Many can be found in supermarkets, or Italian deli food shops. But if you are lucky enough to get to Italy, there is Cova in Milan, and Gilli or Rivoire in Florence just to name a couple. All wrapped and presented like jewel boxes which proves just how desirable a gift they are. www.covamilano.com and www.rivoire.it

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Nars makeup pallets: Small makeup colour kits are great for travel and easy to pack. This year Nars has worked with photographer Sarah Moon for their holiday collection of pallets that combine easy makeup solutions for on the road glam. An always chic red lip, pale cheeks, and brown eye shadows can go day to night. www.narscosmetics.com

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Old Master cushions at the National Gallery: Living with art couldn’t be easier or more stylish than with these cushions of a selection of paintings at London’s National Gallery. They add a bit of sophistication to any chair or sofa and make a posh gift. www.nationalgallery.co.uk

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Wishing you all joy and festivity during the Christmas season… Buon Natale! Happy Christmas!

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Christmas gift list

Christmas gifts for the stylish traveller

When it comes to gifts I’d like to give or receive here are a few of my favourite things. For travel or inspired by travel…

For the gorgeous beauty traveller:

I have just discovered Charlotte Tilbury and there is nothing in her make up line I don’t love. She even has an eye shadow palette called ‘Dolce Vita!’ But the item I love to take with me on trips (and I will be giving them to my close girl friends this Christmas) is her Film Stars on the Go compacts which consist of two colours, one for the eyes and one for the lips. They are cream colours meant to be put on with just your finger, there are 4 duo palettes to chose from, I got Some Like it Hot. Great to have in your carry on to freshen up -easily- on any long haul flight.

fotg-some-like-it-hot_openSome like it Hot from Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstars on the Go line

For the cafe lover:

Jura has coveted top of the line coffee makers that grind beans and brew up anything from a ristretto to an americano. The trouble was they were very big machines and quite pricey. Well finally they have made an espresso maker a bit more accessible in size while still keeping all of the luxury of its predecessors. The Ena Micro 1 and the Impress A5 can easily fit into your tiny European flat kitchen, keeping it stylish while serving up cafe style espresso at home. Of course you can still go to the cafe afterwards and have a glass of wine.

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Ena Micro 1

For the connoisseur of good taste:

The Life Negroni This is a fabulous book for those who love the fabulous life. Part in depth knowledge on all things Negroni, stylish places where to drink them, knowledge on the best gin and the history on vermouth and Campari, it is also a book about style, Italian lifestyle and La Dolce Vita.

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The Life Negroni by Leigh & Nargess Banks

For the Fashionable techie:

The Apple iWatch may not be be everyone’s cup of tea… That is until Hermes came on board to take it from geek toy to fashionista accessory by adding a choice of three of their popular leather wrist bands as options to go with the latest trend.  And with all the great travel apps soon your ticket will be right on your wrist. NOW it is something worth wearing! and I may just have to have it!

double-etain-capecodApple Watch with Hermes Double Tour wristband

For the perfect Host or Hostess:

I love giving a candle. It might seem easy or cliche, but there is always something timeless and polished about giving a scented candle. There are many to choose from and you can never go wrong with one from Diptyque, but this year I found a beautiful candle both inside and out! Italian designers Dolce&Gabbana have released a special gift line for Christmas among which is a gorgeous luxury candle painted in their traditional Sicilian cart prints. A bit of a Sicilian souvenir. This candle gift will really stand out!

screenshot_3425Christmas candle from Dolce&Gabbana

For the On the Go but Still Stylish traveller:

Nails Inc have released a spray on nail polish that is easy and fun to use. The aptly named Paint Can nail varnish is available in two colours: pink and silver it is a great stocking stuffer. Not to mention great item to pack and travel with.

screenshot_3427Hoxton Market Paint Can Nail Polish

For a Good Cause:

Jewelry designer Monica Vinader has designed a special edition of her iconic cord and rose gold bracelet to help and promote Women for Women International. The #SheInspiresMe friendship bracelet is an easy and stylish way to promote a good cause with all profits from sales going to the Women for Women charity.

screenshot_3428#SheInspiresMe friendship bracelet by Monica Vinader

Christmastime in London

If you fancy a bit of Christmas spirit along with a bit of shopping, skip New York and indulge in the quintessential Christmas experience in London. Elegant lights all over the city and festive cheer make for the authentic holiday experience everyone searches for. 

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Trafalgar Square

Where to feast:

Rules London’s oldest restaurant is also one of its finest. Red velvet banquets and dark wood paneling evoke the feeling of an elite private home’s sitting room. Deer antlers and estate paintings only heighten the ambiance of a bygone formal era. While it is known for serving game in season, most of the menu is a very traditional English selection with Beef and Yorkshire pudding, Steak and Kidney Pie, and Dover Sole on offer. And at Christmas time this fashionable establishment really decks the halls from head to toe. Swags of pine, a whimsical Santa’s hat on a deer’s antlers, it is like having Christmas in Downton Abbey. A festive delight.

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Dining room at Rules

Where to Tea:

The English Tea Room at Brown’s Most tea’s are formal affairs but at the comfortably stylish Brown’s hotel it is a most relaxing event. Comfortable chairs by the fireplace, or cozy sofas in the sitting room, you feel like you are in a posh friend’s sitting room having tea and the service is flawless. Their ‘Festive Tea’ even includes seasonal mini mince pies, and if you really want to indulge add a glass of champagne. Tis the season to celebrate after all…

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Delightful treats, scones, and mince pies at The English Tearoom

Where to be Spiritual:

St. Batholomew’s the Great One of the only City churches to have survived all wars, it is a massive yet impressive church from the Middle Ages that feels almost as if time stood still. Their church services are a real treat done completely by candlelight.

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St. Bartholomew the Great

Where to Shop:

Fortnum & Mason Without a doubt the best tea selection in Britain in the original and best food halls. Pick up a real Christmas pudding and traditional mincemeat.

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Staircase at Fortnum & Mason

Hatchard’s One of London’s oldest book shops it retains its original Dickensian looking space with wooden framed windows and curved glass. Creaky wooden staircases lead to an exceptional selection of books.

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Front window at Hatchard’s

Liberty One of a kind, there is no department store quite like this iconic shop. From their famed Scarf Hall to their extensive gift selection of products made from their famous fabrics, you are bound to find great presents here.

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Christmas window display at Liberty

Where to Drink:

Martini bar at The Connaught Find glitter and glow at the uber stylish bar at The Connaught Hotel. Serving the best martini’s in the city, right from a trolly made at your table while you watch. If that is not your thing try something delicious from their varied cocktail menu. Cheers!

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Classic Martini at the bar at The Connaught

Happy Christmas!

Travel Talk: Been to London before? Do it like a Londoner

If you have been to London before there are certain tried and true favourite popular places one goes back for. Next time switch it up with other great locations and establishments to experience London like more of a Londoner…

If you like shopping at Harrods… Try Selfridges

Yes Harrods is great, and no one is taking anything away from that, but Selfridges is also a classic department store not to mention a great example of Art Deco architecture. Inside the shop feels modern and hip with a huge shoe department to die for and all the top fashion designers. Selfridges also has its own mouth watering food halls with top foodie boutiques for Pierre Hermes macarons and St. John’s bakery.

Instead of Afternoon Tea at The Ritz… Try Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley

While a traditional tea is quintessentially English, if you’d like to change it up a bit nothing could be more stylish than the fashion inspired Pret-a-Portea. The theme changes seasonally to take inspiration for the latest season collections. How about a Burberry coat cookie? Or a cake in the shape of a Prada bag? Simply fabulous dah-ling!

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For a bit of antiquing instead of Portobello Road… Try Grey’s Antique Market

Conveniently located just off Oxford street, this small but seriously packed antiquarian hangout is a sort of covered market featuring some really lovely pieces from jewelery on the top floor, to ceramics and lace on the lower ground floor. Perfect place to hide from the rain too.

To satisfy an art fix instead of going to the National Gallery… Try the Wallace Collection

Ideally do both, but if you have seen all the masterpieces of the NG, try the extremely elegant and highly underrated Wallace Collection not far from Oxford Street. Housing both fine and decorative arts, this baby grand museum has one of the best collections of 18th century Sevres porcelain along with an impressive gallery of 15th thru 19th century painting. Among this world class treasure trove is Fragonard’s whimsical The Swing and Hals The Laughing Cavalier.

For heaven on earth, instead of Westminster Abbey… Try St. Bartholomew the Great

The queues to get into Westminster Abbey can be long, but for another church with historical clout and vaulted cloisters head over to one of London’s oldest surviving churches St. Bart’s. This evocative 12th century medieval church survived the Great Fire and the bombings during World War II. Best of all almost no tourists and it is a truly peaceful place. If that doesn’t impress you enough, it has been featured in many movies as well. A real treat around Christmastime when they put up the tree.

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If you are heading out for a pub crawl instead of the West End… Try Farringdon

While there are great pubs everywhere in London, the Farringdon area in The City, near the church of St. Barts, has a nice cluster of pubs with a true authentic feel and with a bit more taste for boutique made ales, many within a short walking distance from one another. Try the Fox & Anchor, The Peasant, and The Hope

A bit of Shopping along the Amalfi Coast

Compared to other Italian hot spots, the Amalfi Coast doesn’t offer a huge selection of shopping in terms of diversity beyond the usual t-shirt and limoncello stores but there are some notable exceptions that will still work out your credit card. If you are looking for designer boutiques that is best found on Capri, and instead look for more unique pieces on the mainland coast. Positano has boutique finds, while Ravello has very elegant selections of ceramics, and Amalfi is great for picking up food items and smaller gifts. So be prepared to fill your suitcase as you will not go back empty handed.

A little etiquette first. In Italy, especially in smaller shops, it is customary to greet the shop owner with a hello, or “Buongiorno!” Many times shops are considered extensions of people’s home and should be thought of the same way upon entering. Politeness does go a long way and even if you don’t speak Italian, do smile and say hello to people.

 

Ravello 

A bird nest overlooking the blue sea, Ravello posses elegance and good breeding. While there are ceramics all over the Amalfi Coast, I found the more unique designs with real palatial feel along these quiet streets in the sky.

Ceramiche d’Arte Carmela (Via del Rufolo, 16) – Off the main piazza, on the way to the Villa Cimbrone, is my favourite shop for ceramics. Exciting designs, classic styles plus that little bit more. They will ship so shop knowing they will pack it up and send it to you with minimal hassles. I found a rich red platter with yellow acanthus leaves which remains one of my most stunning purchases.

Wine Amalfi Coast (Via Roma, 38) – On the other side of the piazza, under the arch,  is a small but very well stocked wine shop specializing in the best of local wines and spirits. You want that special, not your run of the mill limoncello, or a bold Taurasi wine, this is a great place to buy your wines.

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Amalfi

The bustling and charming seaside town of Amalfi is a great place to pick up those decorative bottles of limoncello. A couple smaller ceramic shops along the main road offer inexpensive yet very pretty gift options, while little food shops sell traditional Italian food items.

Pasticerria Pansa (Via Duca Mansone I, 40) This is one of those baby grand old world European cafes. Glass cabinets displaying mouthwatering pastries and candies, mirrored walls and polished wood, make it a must. And after you have had your coffee, make sure you pick up some of the most beautiful marzipan and biscotti.

Limoncello Il Profumo shop (Piazza del Duomo) – Right next to Pasticerria Pansa is a small picturesque boutique selling nothing but limoncello in a wide selection of beautiful bottles. From the traditional painted local scene to some really artful ones, they are all delightful.

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Positano

Energetic and more tourist traveled Positano has a bit more variety and a can range from art galleries to flip flop shops. Much of the selection feels a bit dated and expected, yet the places that are nice, are very particular and offer exceptional finds.

Emporio Le Sirenuse (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 103) – Probably the best stylish boutique along the coast with lovely resort clothing pieces along with unique home items.  Fanciful pillowcases like the ones used at the hotel and decorative home designers like Carlo Moretti glass pieces displayed along light scarves and and pretty bags.

Ceramica Assunta (Via C. Colombo, 97 & 137) You will see many ceramic shops along the Amalfi Coast. Some are better than others and it depends what you are looking for. I like this one for its extensive selection of good craftsmanship. Beautiful plates and colourfully designed pasta bowls.

Cafiero Luigi, Vendita Oggetti Usati, (Via C. Colombo 171) Love this tiny shop at the top of the road. Displaying its whimsical and eclectic selection of antique pieces along the road and decorating the ledge overlooking the sea, there is something very special about this place. From the iron worked pieces to the rare decorative glass vase this place is from times past.

Don Catello sandals (Via Franco Franchi, 5) Antonio the shop keeper is one of the friendliest people you will meet and a delight to spend time with. He also knows shoes, and the ones in his shop are extremely stylish. Comfortable and bejeweled handmade sandals are one of a kind and you will leave feeling like Cinderella on the way to the ball.

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Don’t leave the Amalfi Coast without a beautiful bottle of limoncello, a pair of sandals, and a piece of decorative ceramic work. They are things that will transport you back to Italy when you are home.