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Beauty of the (Italian) Afterlife

I promised that I would share pictures from our most recent Italian vacation. I am starting to make good on that promise although I do still need to put together a proper post. I’m working on it…I swear. I am continuing to sift through thousands of pictures but I did manage to gather a few that are most appropriate for today, Halloween, the spookiest of all holidays.

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When it comes to traveling, I have found that one of the most exciting ways to get to know a city is to simply get lost and enjoy new discoveries that literally cross your path. As Mr. B and I wandered throughout Milan on one particular day, we took note of a building off in the distance due to its beauty and scale. We continued to walk toward it hoping to learn more. It turns out that the building that caught our attention is part of Milan’s most well-known cemetery, Monument Cemetery (Cimitero Monumentale in Italian). Our curiosity led us past the gates and into one of the City’s largest cemetery’s developed in 1886.

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We ventured inside only to discover an open-air market with a treasure trove of art and architectural monuments. As we strolled the grounds, it was immediately evident that some of the most notable artists and architects were commissioned to build beautiful, grand structures to mark the location of where some of the most wealthy and elite Italians have been laid to rest.

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All iPhone images by Reviving Charm.

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Buongiorno! Mr. B and I have been enjoying travels through Northern Italy. Traveling during this time of year is great because the crowds generally die down a bit and the weather is usually more tolerable. Unfortunately, we couldn’t escape the higher temperatures and it’s been in the mid 80 degrees in Turin, where we are currently staying. Another advantage for traveling during this time of year is that the prices are typically more reasonable. For me, that means hoping to buy more souvenirs with the money we save.

I took thousands of pictures on our Italian trip last year and realize that I never shared any with you. I recently went through all of last year’s pictures and created this small photo montage highlighting the architectural features, design details and the natural beauty that capture the essence of Italy.

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I have one very special post scheduled while I’m away and I promise to do a recap post of my current trip when I’m back. I’m also looking forward to posting more regularly. Fall is approaching and I’m feeling inspired. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram.

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A Night at the Museum: The Getty Center

Living in Los Angeles provides lots of cultural opportunities. We have some wonderful museums in Southern California but with L.A. being so spread out (urban sprawl!), I don’t get to visit my favorites much as I would like. It’s been a while since my last visit to The Getty and last weekend we decided to spend the evening at The Getty Center. There are actually two Getty museums in Southern California: The Getty Villa and The Getty Center. However, Californian’s often refer to them as “the one in Malibu” or  “the one on the hill”. Sometimes someone will refer to “the one on the hill” as “the new one” even though it isn’t actually all that new. In December it celebrated its 20th year anniversary…how time flies.

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To call The Getty Center “just another museum” is an understatement. It’s a series of Italian limestone buildings (16,000 tons of limestone, to be exact) that are perched on top of a hill that offers educational activities, conducts research, as well as play host to some of the best works of art in the world. The sculptural design of the complex is an architectural photographers dream. It was designed by famed architect Richard Meier and the geometric forms of the structures are so interesting that they often provide the most amazing contrast between light and shadow. If you love architectural photography then you won’t want to leave your camera at home. And If you enjoy art and architecture as much I do and are planning a visit to L.A., then The Getty Center should be on your list of places to visit. I  highly recommend The Getty Villa also.

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We arrived in the evening thinking that the daytime crowds would have died down and that we would have the galleries all to ourselves. We were completely wrong. The second we pulled into the driveway we immediately realized that half of LA. must have had the same idea. Once parked you can either walk hike up the hill a quarter mile to reach the museum or, alternatively, board a tram that will transport you directly to the top. The parking lot was full during our visit so they allowed us to park in an area at the top of the hill that eliminated the need to take the tram. Signage literally refers to it as “Top of the Hill Parking” and is only accessible through a secured area. It’s normally reserved for Benefactor’s, VIP’s, and the like but on this day it served as overflow parking and we scored the best parking spot ever. Once you’ve figured out your parking situation and get to the top of the hill, you reach a large arrival plaza. You immediately realize that this is no ordinary museum.

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It doesn’t take long to discover amazing views in almost every direction.

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Typical Saturday evening traffic on the 405 freeway heading into L.A.

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Don’t forget to look up!

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You can easily spend a few days visiting The Getty Center if you want to experience all that it has to offer. Most people don’t have that kind of time so it is best to plan your visit to ensure you don’t miss what interests you the most. We had the intent of only staying a couple of hours to visit “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography: 1911-2011”, a temporary exhibit through October 21, 2018.

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You wouldn’t necessarily realize this from my pictures but this gallery was uncomfortably crowded. This is a wildly popular exhibit but I was just lucky enough to get a few pictures without a ton of people.

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Richard Avedon, 1950

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Louis Faurer, Negative 1972 & Print 1991

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Neil Barr, 1968

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David Seidner, 1986

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Scott Schuman (aka “The Sartorialist”), 2011

The French and Italian decorative arts galleries are my favorites in any museum and The Getty is no exception. I get nervous handwashing a glass in the kitchen sink for fear of breaking it so it always amazes me how some antique glass stays beautifully intact with no chips or cracks.

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I hope you enjoyed my post about my quick visit to The Getty Center. If you need me today, I can be found at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. I’m looking forward to seeing the lithographs of American artist Ellsworth Kelly on display through October 29, 2018.

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Daytrip: La Jolla, California

Even though 4th of July landed on a Wednesday this year, it didn’t stop us from jumping in the car and heading south to spend some time in La Jolla, California. La Jolla has been described as an affluent, hilly seaside community. I’ve also heard it being referenced as San Diego’s “jewel by the sea”. Both are true and we’re lucky to have such a beautiful community within a two-hour drive from our seaside ranch home. You may want to consider La Jolla if you are looking for a great place for a quick escape in Calfornia.

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Food is fuel for the body so we decided to start our day off with brunch on the patio of the historic (circa 1926) La Valencia Hotel & Spa. A good meal overlooking the ocean was the perfect way to start the day. la valencia hotel La Jolla California_Reviving Charm

I discovered this gate and courtyard of this ocean view property in the village many years ago but I manage to take a picture of it everytime I visit La Jolla. Isn’t it charming? la jolla daytrip_reviving charm 1

I don’t recall what restaurant we walked by but this single bright yellow gerbera daisy looked so sweet on a patio table. la jolla restaurants_reviving charm

These hillside homes nestled in lush landscaping are actually located at the edge of the village. They have amazing views of the La Jolla cove that is off in the distance. la jolla california architecture_reviving charm blog

We found a terrace overlooking the ocean and had it to ourselves. It was the perfect spot to enjoy the breathtaking view without anyone else around. It was the most peaceful spot. la jolla cove_Reviving Charm

We stumbled upon a walkway that leads you from the village straight down to the beach. The walkway is lined with a series of adorable cottages. This one at the top of the hill is for sale with an asking price of approximately $999,000 and is currently in escrow. There’s truth in the saying that it’s all about location, location, location. This tiny cottage measures a mere 528 square feet and is located on a 729 square foot lot. It features 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, and an amazing deck with ocean views. However, the kitchen and bath will definitely need to be gutted. You can see the listing with pictures of this Ocean Lane cottage here.   

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No day would be complete without a bit of shopping including a visit to one of my favorite shops in town,The Faded Awning. I love that the owner has French music piped throughout the shop. They offer a variety of home goods, gift items, clothing and jewelry available for sale. On a previous trip we purchased two side chairs that now call our living room home and last year I purchaed a straw handbag that I mentioned in thisprior post. la jolla shopping_reviving charm

Another display at The Faded Awning.

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A small courtyard leading to the entrance of an antique shop.
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Unfortunately, the antique shop was closed but it didn’t stop me from peeking through the window.la jolla antiques

Sunflowers are the quintessential summer flower and there was an abundance of them available at a flower shop in the village. I also love this tropical floral arrangement in the window of COS Barla jolla flowers_reviving charm

We took a walk along the path that hugs the cove trying to avoid the crowds…reviving charm

But the crowds provided a good form of entertainment. This next picture might look like a “Where’s Waldo” but instead, try to find the sea lion sunning himself along the shoreline. The sunbathers had to keep moving their camps as the sea lion began encroaching into their territory. Lifeguards had to keep reminding beach-goers to keep their distance since everyone was trying to capture a selfie and kids were trying to touch the massive creatures.

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We’ve passed by Mary, Star of the Sea Church many times but this was the first time we actually ventured inside. The small church is beautiful in its simplicity. mary star of the sea la jolla church_reviving charm

And…if we hadn’t done enough already, by the late afternoon we decided to drive into downtown San Diego to wander a bit. Here’s a look at the remainder of the day.

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Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Before traveling home from San Francisco we were able to spend some time in one of the airport lounges before boarding our flight. To help pass the time I grabbed a couple of newspapers to read, including the French newspaper Le Figaro. The front page immediately caught my eye with an article about the French Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the largest privately owned chateau in France. If you plan to visit France, the chateau is an easy day trip from Paris.

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I don’t actually read French but I was able to gather a little from the article…

The current owner, Count Patrice de Vogüé, received Vaux-le-Vicomte as a wedding gift in 1967. After they were married, Count Patrice de Vogüé and his wife Countess Cristina (seen below) vowed to open the château to the public. They made good on that promise a year later by opening it up to the public in 1968. This month marks the 50th anniversary of Vaux-le-Vicomte being open to the masses. What a wonderful milestone and gift to all that enter its gates.

Vaux-le-Vicomte is “a masterpiece of classical art, the apogee of grandeur and refinement ….”. –Count Patrice de Vogüé

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Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally built in the mid-1600’s by Nicolas Fouquet, who served as a chief financial officer to King Louis XIV. Upon its completion, Fouquet held a lavish party at his new château and invited the King to attend. (Who wouldn’t want to host a party here?!) Unfortunately, bringing much attention to himself and Vaux-le-Vicomte backfired because one of the King’s advisor’s felt that Fouquet had certainly been embezzling money to finance his new estate. Fouquet was sent to prison and the King eventually seized the property. Ten years after Fouquet’s imprisonment, Madame Fouque was able to gain back control of the property but eventually sold it in 1705 after the death of her husband and son.  There were a series of owners after that but in 1875 after 35 years of much neglect, the current family purchased it through auction. As mentioned previously, the property is now owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé with their three sons (shown below) helping with the continued administration of this grand estate.

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The Château is surrounded by a moat and beautiful French gardens. It is said that Vaux-le-Vicomte was the actually the inspiration for the construction of Versailles.

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Vaux-le-Vicomte plays host to many events throughout the year including an Easter egg hunt and celebration for both kids and adults. Can you imagine how fun that would be!!??

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During a portion of the year, an array of 2,000 candles are lit for you to enjoy the gardens at night. Firework displays are also displayed.

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Check out this article by Sotheby’s to learn more about Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, it’s history, and is restoration. The official Vaux-le-Vicomte website can be viewed here. 

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Revisiting San Francisco

I dubbed this past weekend and the latest jaunt to San Francisco as “The Weekend of Mr. B”. We took the one-hour plane ride up to the City by the Bay to celebrate his birthday. I also promised Mr. B that we can do anything he wanted, although I may have influenced his decisions on a couple of occasions! The weather was originally thought to be rainy all weekend, much like it would be at home. Instead, beautiful cloudy blue skies and sunshine greeted us and stayed with us for the duration of our trip.

There are a million and one restaurants in San Francisco and you can probably try something new every night if you wanted to. In my previous post, I mentioned that Mr. B chose Cafe Claude for his birthday dinner (I mentioned it here). After a nice dinner, we walked around downtown to window shop at night. This is where all the good shopping for designer goods is located so the window displays are always top notch.

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We went to one of my favorite museums, The Legion of Honor, to check out the current special exhibit, “Casanova”. The building is always impressive.

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We never miss an opportunity to stop into Neiman Marcus located directly on Union Square. The building is extraordinary with its beautiful glass skylight, which is particularly stunning during Christmas with a Christmas tree spanning up all four levels of the building.

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We had lunch at The Rotunda Restaurant, located on the top level (4th floor). We were lucky to have snagged a table next to the window overlooking the activity of Union Square. Dining in this space also provides you with an up-close look at the skylight.

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I’ve never had a bad meal here. We shared a shrimp appetizer and I enjoyed a delicious chicken salad. The calories for each dish are printed on the menu which is great for those of us who are watching our waistline.

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We did more shopping and window shopping in and around Union Square. The Banana Republic in this town is hands down the most beautiful one I’ve seen.

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I received another catalog from Cuyana just days before our trip. I was excited to visit their shop since I’ve been on the hunt for a new black leather tote bag like this one. Their leather goods are beautiful in their simplicity and quite reasonably priced compared to other high-end leather brands. Their shop is located on the 2nd floor of a building off of Union Square. It was very busy when we stopped in so I wasn’t able to snap a great picture inside their boutique but it is quite lovely. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the inspiration board behind the cash wrap area. We all know how I love a good inspiration board!

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A trip to San Francisco is never complete without a trip to Gumps. This legendary department store has been in business since the late 1800’s and is a favorite place for bridal registries. It looks like they are all ready for Easter.

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I can’t remember the last time we visited Chinatown. We didn’t actually “visit”, but instead used it as a  quick cut-through on our way to Jackson Square.

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Jackson Square is a small neighborhood developed with historic, low-rise buildings that happens to be one of my favorite areas in San Francisco. Even though it’s in the heart of the city, it has a very quaint feel to it. I remember when it use to be home to mostly antique shops and home design stores. It’s still home to some design shops but the area is transitioning and is now home to more clothing boutiques and restaurants. It’s starting to feel like a much better balance.

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I love this particular building with its brick and black painted facade. I only wish the car didn’t have to ruin my picture.

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When in Jackson Square we always pay a visit to William Stout Architectural Books. It is a treasure trove of books related to design, architecture, and landscape. They’ve been in business for 30 years, with 20 of those years in its current location.

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While walking to the Ferry Building Marketplace, we couldn’t help but to stop and admire the beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds serving as a backdrop for the City’s skyline. I am also glad I was able to catch one of the vintage streetcars in the picture. These streetcars have quite a history and come from all over the world. If you are able to catch a glimpse of one up close, you’ll notice the original markings on it that identify its origin. I’ve seen cars come as far away as Milan, Italy. You can learn more about the historic fleet here.

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The Ferry Building is a fun place to visit. Located right on the water, it is a marketplace of restaurants, food stalls and retail vendors. They also have a Farmer’s Market several times a week. To the far right of the picture below you can see the crowds of people visiting the Farmer’s Market.

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One of the chocolatiers at the Ferry Building is getting ready for Easter. It was really hard to take good pictures inside the Ferry Building because it gets so crowded. Traveler tip: If you visit the Ferry Building, try to visit during the week when it’s less crowded. Otherwise, it is a “sea of humanity” both inside and out.  (YT..are you reading?).

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Many of the restaurants do get their local produce from the Ferry Building and the adjacent Farmer’s Market. I am always intrigued by this one particular vendor who sells nothing but mushrooms. Who knew that there are so many edible mushrooms?

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No matter what City we travel to, we are always on the lookout for new hotels for a potential future stay. This is the lobby of the Hotel Vitale conveniently located directly across the street from the Ferry Building that opened last year. The soothing colors made me forget about the noise and crowds just right outside its doors.

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One of our favorite lunch spots is Tadich Grill located in the heart of the City’s Financial District. Tadich Grill is California’s oldest restaurant and reportedly the third oldest restaurant in the country. They opened a second location in Washington D.C. that we have yet to try.

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There is always a line and if you can’t snag a table then sit at the counter. I actually prefer the counter because its fun to witness the hustle and bustle of the staff. Many of the employees have been here for approximately 20 years and they have things running like clockwork.

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We both ordered the Dungeness Crab and Prawns a la Monza. It might not look pretty (food is hard to photograph) but it’s a delicious dish of crab and prawns served over a cream sauce with celery, leeks, paprika, parmesan cheese with everything baked in a casserole dish. We’ve ordered it many times before but it wasn’t until this weekend that we learned that this dish actually made it onto a round of the T.V. game show Jeopardy. The statement was “Prawns a la Monza is a specialty of Tadich Grill, an institution in this California city since 1849”. If you happen to see the re-run of the December 1, 2009, show you’ll now know that the answer is “What is San Francisco”.

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After lunch at Tadich Grill, we walked by Micheal Mina’s restaurant next door. The beautiful flowers in the brass vase caught my attention.

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Many people don’t know that the City of San Francisco has a requirement for private developers to provide “Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces” (POPOS) to the public for free usage. These areas are marked with a simple plaque and include plazas, terraces, atriums, and parks most centered in the Downtown area. We happened to visit one on the 9th floor of the Westfield Mall on Market Street. It was a quiet oasis from all the crowds at street level. It also provided us with a close up look at the mall’s glass dome. To learn more about POPOS, read this.

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The Palace Hotel is always a place we like to visit. The flowers at the entrance are always stunning. I like how one simple flower in a variety of shades grouped in mass provide such a statement.

The Palace Hotel San Francisco

We always make it a point to stop at the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel for either a meal or an appetizer and drink. It provides a quick break within a beautiful setting.

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Don’t underestimate the City at night. The buildings look amazing lit up.

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No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a picture of a cable car. We had a great trip and plan to be back soon!

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All photos in this post taken by Reviving Charm.

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Off to San Francisco

Mr. B and I are off to San Francisco for the next few days to celebrate his birthday. This weekend is all about Mr. B and doing the things he wants to do so tonight we’ll be having dinner at Cafe Claude. It’s a small French bistro tucked away off an alley-like street known as “Claude Lane”. We’ve been to the restaurant only once before but remember enjoying it. It was basic but good. I’ve been a bit MIA on IG but I promise to post if you wish to follow along to see what we stumble upon and what else we have planned. In the meantime, enjoy this poem about San Francisco by George Sterling.

The winds of the Future wait
At the iron walls of her Gate,
And the western ocean breaks in thunder,
And the western stars go slowly under,
And her gaze is ever West
In the dream of her young unrest.
Her sea is a voice that calls,
And her star a voice above,
And her wind a voice on her walls —
My cool, grey city of love.        — George Sterling

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A Winter Wonderland in the Eternal City

As someone who was born and raised in Southern California, I must admit that I am intrigued by the beauty of snowfall. When I learned that there was a rare snowfall yesterday in Rome (the heaviest they’ve seen in 6 years), I knew I had to share some of the beautiful images of the Eternal City draped in winter white. Doesn’t this historic city look lovely? Just when you thought Rome couldn’t get any more beautiful…

The snow is falling
The traffic is crawling
The world looks all calm and bright
If only for a moment everything looks pure under the freshly fallen snow and the glow emitted by the first snowfall of the season
My mood is happy I hope it lasts all season and throughout the new year too.  –Ann M. Johnson

Statue of St. Peter

St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican

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The Spanish Steps

Piazza del Popolo

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The Roman Forum

The Colosseum

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The Trevi Fountain

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YSL Museum_Reviving Charm blog


Visiting Morroco, particularly Marrakech, has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. (What’s on your bucket list?). If ever find myself in Marrakech the Yves St. Laurent Museum will be one of my “must see” places to visit. It actually opened this past Fall and coincided with the opening of the Musee Yves St. Laurent in Paris. The museum was spearheaded by Pierre Bergé who was Yves Saint Laurent’s partner in love, life, and in business. Although Bergé passed away in September, he was able to see his vision come to life by visiting before his death. The building, with its intricate terracotta brick exterior, was designed by French architects Studio KO and houses a vast collection of couture, accessories, art, sketches, and photographs. Let us enjoy a virtual visit to the museum from across the miles…

“When Yves Saint Laurent first discovered Marrakech in 1966, he was so moved by the city that he decided to buy a house here, and returned regularly. It feels perfectly natural, fifty years later, to build a museum dedicated to his oeuvre, which was so inspired by this country.”   — Pierre Bergé

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In case you missed my previous post that includes pictures of YSL’s Marrakech home be sure to check it out HERE.  You can also check out the gardens of Pierre Bergé HERE.

provisional restaurant pendry san diego Reviving Charm


Once I decide on a hotel I want to stay at, I spend a lot of time trying to find the best possible rate. Who doesn’t want the biggest bang for their buck? And when it comes to booking hotel packages, sometimes they can be a great value and sometimes they can actually cost you more than if you had booked items separately. They key is to make sure the package works for you and that you’ll take full advantage of it or else you might find yourself wasting money. Do your homework and you can definitely save a few bucks…and those few bucks can be used for souvenirs! We booked the Bed & Breakfast package for our stay at The Pendry Hotel in San Diego which turned out to be a tremendous value. The package included valet parking and a $60 daily breakfast credit. We had the choice of using our breakfast credit for room service or dining at Provisional Kitchen, Cafe & Mercantile, just one of several food establishments in the hotel. We opted to dine in the restaurant each morning of our stay and we couldn’t be happier. The food was great, the service was impeccable, and the environment is amazing. Take a look for yourself.provisional restaurant pendry san diego_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 1_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 5A_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 7_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 6_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 11B_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 12_Reviving Charm

The concept of Provisional was designed in partnership with Alchemy Works, an innovative retail concept located in the Downtown L.A. Arts District and Newport Beach. As a result of this unique collaboration, a curated collection of jewelry, books, and housewares are available for sale at Provisional. This gives you a flavor of what they have to offer…provisional restaurant pendry san diego 8_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 9_Reviving Charmprovisional restaurant pendry san diego 10_Reviving CharmAll images by Reviving Charm with the exception of no. 2, which is from Pendry Hotels.