Category ‘Places’

The Summer Series // Tradition & Luxury at Parco Degli Ulivi

Posted in Places on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Even though a whole host of technical glitches has prevented me from writing more about my time in Sardinia (and I have so much to tell and so many pictures to share!), if you read my last few posts you know I have been meaning to show a different side to the island. Not just a place for tourists, or a land of ancient traditions, or a bizarre, souvenir-ish combination of the two. During my time there, I observed a place where heritage influences modern creative expressions, and where a new generation of Sardinians are reinterpreting the land’s spirit with a new contemporary twist.

Naturally, my research was mostly about designers and artisans, but I wanted to find actual places where to breathe this refreshing atmosphere – like hotel and restaurant Parco Degli Ulivi. I first went there on a late July evening, and it struck me just how tranquil the place is. Coming from the hustle and bustle of Costa Smeralda only a short drive away, I was impressed to find a place where, at the peak of the summer season, you can have a sunset aperitivo while ‘listening’ to the quietness of the surrounding nature.

So, that’s where we had the aperitivo. However, Parco Degli Ulivi means olive grove, and I wouldn’t be doing justice to the place if I didn’t show you the magnificent ancient trees that surround the buildings – and under which you can also sit and relax.

The hotel was built within the large olive grove that was once part of a family estate. While this dictates the whole spirit of the place, I liked how the architectural details hint at all that’s traditional in Sardinia, but with a truly contemporary look. Take, for example, the intricate ironwork in the shape of olive branches right on the main entrance:

One would assume a guest who enjoys this kind of hotel would naturally be drawn to Sardinia’s many natural attractions and traditions. So beautiful books like these are to be found in the main foyer (see those Ilisso tomes? From the same series as the Gioielli volume I showed you in the last post).

But where Parco Degli Ulivi really breaks with what’s expected from ‘traditional’ Sardinian hospitality, is with its food. After my July drink I was so intrigued with the place that I went back for dinner a few weeks later, and I had a chance to catch up with hotel manager, Paolo Manca. He explained how important it is that the hotel reflects the family’s history, and that’s why the purely Sardinian elements where used in the decor – but what he wanted to avoid was for the place to be mistaken for an agriturismo. The agriturismo formula is to open a restaurant within a farm, where guests can enjoy a regional meal put together from locally grown and reared produce. “Nothing wrong with that” Paolo explains “but there’s too many of those around here, and we’d rather show that Sardinian food can also be enjoyed as a fine dining experience”. Without skipping on the ‘local’ bit: dad Graziano has a vegetable plot right in the middle of the hotel’s gardens!

Word spread fast that Parco Degli Ulivi has one of the best stocked wine cellars of the area. Well, unfortunately I don’t drink wine, but I can show you the food treats!

We’re talking squid in squid ink tempura and tuna tartare with bottarga as some of the starters, home made tagliolini in a sea urchin sauce for primo, fillet of brim in a saffron sauce for secondo, parfait of chocolate with mirto ice-cream as one of the desserts – all (well, not the pudding!) accompanied by homemade special breads, and served in this stunning location. The wine list, you can explore when you go there yourself – because, by now, I know you want to!

And you still have time: Hotel and Restaurant Parco Degli Ulivi is open until 31st October 2013, and again from 15th March 2014.

The Summer Series // Sardinia: Alghero & Antonio Marras

Posted in Places, Slow Fashion on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

If you’ve been following my ‘adventures’ on facebook and twitter, you’ll now this summer I’m spending an extended period of time in Sardinia, because I’ve had knee surgery and I am convalescing here. Despite the pain and discomfort, this decision didn’t come without its positives. I’m getting to spend a long time with my family, enjoy the amazing weather, and skip the physiotherapy studio in favour of exercising in the sea – I can’t think of a healthier and more enjoyable post-op recovery ever!

I had my op in Alghero, a gorgeous coastal town that I hadn’t visited for a long time – so the night before going to the hospital I took a stroll around the ‘bastioni’ (the ancient fortifications) and the maze of cobbled streets of the old town.

It is here that I saw the beautiful boutique of talented designer, Antonio Marras, a native of Alghero.

Marras is a recognised name of Italian fashion – having shown his collection at Milan Fashion Week since 1998, and having also been Creative Director at Kenzo for many years. He is a master of opulent fabrics and sculptural shapes – but naturally, what strikes me most about his work is his ability to take inspiration from the richness of his Sardinian heritage, where a sapient use of wool and embroidery feature heavily, and which is obviously the background to Marras’s masterful mix of textures and weights, and to the small details such as the buttons and pins modelled on the silver and gold ornaments of the sumptuous Sardinian traditional costume.

The boutique interior also references to local crafts – with monochrome carpets of Marras’s own design, but heavily inspired to Sardinian traditional patterns, among the most recognisable artefacts of the island – tastefully paired with ‘found objects’ for an elegant vintage feel.

The AW13 collection was already displayed, and I enjoyed not only browsing it, but actually being able to feel the wonderful fabrics. I got a few snaps in store, but you can view the whole collection here (courtesy of Style.com). How do you feel about this collection?

 

 

New York inspiration

Posted in Places, Shopping on Monday, September 28th, 2009

I strolled a bit around NYC last week, and stumbled upon some really inspirational places.

I loved the feel of this store window in SoHo:

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Again in SoHo, is the beautiful Sabon shop. They may not have natural laundry products (yet?), but it’s a heavenly scented place for delicate organic skin products. I loved the window layout:

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Moving uptown to Fifth Ave., I was delighted to happen to be there during the few weeks when the pop-up Merci concept store is open in NY.

Having not yet been able to visit the original Merci in Paris, that was good timing. Everything in there is a one-off or limited edition, takes go to charity, and their packaging is gorgeous, so I couldn’t help myself…

courtesy of Habitually Chic

courtesy of Habitually Chic

courtesy of Habitually Chic

courtesy of Habitually Chic