Italy travel_reviving charm

GREETINGS FROM ITALY

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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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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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.

Rotunda Restaurant lunch Neiman Marcus San Francisco

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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TRAVEL: CHECKING INTO THE PENDRY

The Pendry Hotel, situated on a prime corner in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego, opened its doors early this year with lots of fanfare as a new venture for the Montage Resorts & Hotels brand. The Pendry San Diego is only one of two, and was the first, in the Pendry chain (the other is in Baltimore). Mr. B and I visited the San Diego location over the Fourth of July weekend where we were invited to tour the rooftop pool and enjoyed delicious appetizers at the bar. Impressed with its sophisticated style, Mr. B and I vowed that next time we were in San Diego we’d book a room at The Pendry. The hotel combines modern day luxury and California style, as seen from my pictures captured in July and earlier today.

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If you need me, I’ll be at The Pendry over the next few days. But don’t be surprised if the “do not disturb sign” is on display. This holiday weekend is meant to be stress-free and the goal is to refresh, relax, and rejuvenate. I hope you get a chance to do the same!

Reviving Charm Goes to Italy 

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Buon Giorno! I am very happy to announce that Mr. B and I are hopping on a jet plane and flying off to Italy today. I am over the moon excited because we have a deep love affair with Italy. It must have something to do with the fact that it’s in our DNA. We will be staying in a total of five cities but our trip begins and ends in Milan, one of the great cities of the world. It’s a very chic, urban, and cosmopolitan city. And because of these reasons, I happen to actually love Milano. However, I am always intrigued to learn how others feel about this great city. I have found that most people either love it or hate it. There’s usually no middle ground.

Even now I miss Italy dearly, I dream about it every night – Eila Hiltunen

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It’s hard for me to believe it’s been over ten years since I started creating the photo carousel project highlighted in this post. It is filled with nothing but pictures from our numerous trips to Italy dating back to 2004 and is still a work in progress. When Mr. B and I are back, rest assured that I will be adding more pages to it. But for now let’s flip through a few pages together, shall we…italy scrapbook Reviving Charm 2

So you can get a sense of scale, the smallest page is slightly little larger than a standard business card. I used a variety of items (glitter, stickers, ribbon, rubber stamps, rub-ons, etc.) to embellish each page. I pulled out all the stops by using metallic gold thread to sew a zig-zag stitch on one of the pages (see the first picture at the top of this post).

italy scrapbook Reviving Charm 5There are pictures of Mr. B and I scattered among the pages, but the project really focuses on details that capture a slice of Italian life. Coins, train tickets, portions of maps, and ticket stubs are also things I managed to include. For example, the linen pocket below holds business cards picked up at just a few of the wonderful places we’ve had an opportunity to visit over the years.  italy scrapbook Reviving Charm 1grand hotel et de milan Reviving Charm

italy scrapbook Reviving Charm 7 gypsiesgelato favorites Reviving Charmlake como reviving charm scrapbookitaly travel ATC Reviving CharmYou may have noticed how I like incorporating inspirational quotes into many of my blog posts. However, it wasn’t until this particular post that I realized that this was something I was already doing some 10 years ago when I started this project. reviving charm in italyI hope you enjoyed this glimpse at of one of my most prized possessions. Every time I flip through the pages it brings back very happy memories of our travels to a place we love dearly. Even though we are away,  I have still have posts planned for the website so don’t forget to check in.  I will also be posting on Instagram so be sure to follow me around. Ciao!  

Finally….Camping Done Right

Summer is in full swing and many people I know are currently on vacation. An African safari is on my travel bucket list, but since I am not a camper I have a hard time convincing anyone to join me. I keep telling people that I’m not looking to “rough it” and there are several safari camps and lodges that really are quite luxurious by camping standards. In fact, I remember reading about one particular campsite that comes equipped with private bath facilities, including a clawfoot tub. I read about another site, which was described as “Hermes in a Hut”. It might be tough, but I think I can manage…

Several years ago I was trying to talk some family members into going with me on safari.  They weren’t convinced that I would enjoy myself so they suggested that we do a “trial run” by first signing up for the Roar and Snore program at San Diego Wild Animal Park to see how I could handle “roughing it”. Knowing that this was a prerequisite for any future real safari trip, I happily obliged. Three different sleeping arrangements were offered: a simple tent with sleeping bags, a tent with cots, or a premium tent with an actual bed. The decision was a no-brainer so naturally, we opted for the premium tent. It came furnished with a queen bed, nightstands, electrical outlets and even a wood floor. A nearby portable bathroom trailer was part of the premium tent package (a huge selling point) that provided sinks, flushable toilets, and shower facilities. It wasn’t ideal, but it was clean. I still haven’t experienced a real African safari. I lived up to my end of the bargain by being willing to participate in a “trial run”. I think it’s time my family members live up to their end of the bargain. Auntie, if you are reading this….what do you think? Care to join me someday?

This wasn’t really intended to be a post about Roar and Snore and I know it can’t be considered a true, authentic camping experience. But living without modern amenities and the comforts of home is something I am not interested in.  However, after recently learning about Maine’s new glamping site at Sandy Pines Campground in Kennebunkport I might be willing to reconsider my position on the matter! 

The campground officially opened this month with elaborately furnished (for campground standards) spacious tents that include a mini refrigerator, small heater/fan, and bath amenities (a shared bathhouse). Twelve interior designers were called upon to decorate each rustic-luxe tent in high style. Let’s take a look at a few of the designer tents available for rental…Sandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, Maine.Blixen's Oasis, bysandy pines campground maineSandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, MaineSandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, MaineSandy Pines CampgroundSandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, MaineSandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, MaineSandy Pines Campground. Kennebunkport, MaineIt’s refreshing to see that campgrounds are starting to provide more and more glamping opportunities and a rough-luxe experience as an alternative to traditional tent camping for someone like me. Provide a few comforts of home and I just might be willing to reconsider the concept of camping…in style, of course.

To learn more about Sandy Pines Campground or to view additional detailed pictures of the tents, be sure to check their website.  

Images via Boston Home Magazine and Sandy Pines Campground.

Shop Highlight: Studio Veneto Provides Luxury Italian Decor

Every now and then you stumble across a shop that is truly a unique find. Studio Veneto located in The Village neighborhood of La Jolla, California is one such gem. I came across Studio Veneto several years ago but it wasn’t until last summer that I had a wonderful chat with the owner, Linda McCormick, who allowed me to take pictures of the shop (Thank you, Linda!). I paid a visit to the shop again last weekend and took a few new pictures.
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The exterior of the shop has an elegant quality to it with an old world Italian feel. When you walk up to the space you immediately realize that this shop is truly something special.  studio veneto fortuny reviving charm

Studio Veneto is no ordinary antique shop. It is well known for specializing in Italian antiques and textiles sourced directly from Italy. However, you don’t need to be decorating an Italian villa to shop here. Studio Veneto is a great shop visit even if you just need to find a one-of-a-kind item that will make a statement in a room. The shop is not large but there is an abundance of inventory to choose from.

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As you walk into the shop you are immediately greeted with a treasure trove of items. The photo above was from my trip last year, with the photo below from last weekend. The shop is hard to photograph as it is fairly dark with lots of tight spaces and is packed with treasures tucked away in every corner. studio veneto la jolla Reviving Charm 1

Linda is a woman after my own heart. She has quite the affinity for textiles, particularly being a longtime fan of the prestigious Italian textile maker Fortuny. She sources her textiles directly from Italy and uses them to create pillows, tissue box covers, lampshades and her signature nightlights (shown below). While $175 may sound steep for a nightlight, remember that each shade is made by hand using antique Fortuny fabric. No two are identical. These would look stunning in a powder room although I have contemplated about putting one in the living room.

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Custom lampshades in a variety of shapes and sizes are a particular specialty of Studio Veneto. Tucked away in a small area at the back of the shop you can see a plethora of small shades ready to purchase off the shelf. However, if you are interested in having a custom lampshade crafted for you, there are a number of finials and other lamp parts to choose from (shown below along the right-hand side of the picture). No detail is overlooked. studio veneto fortuny reviving charm

Don’t forget to look up! Above the owner’s desk toward the back of the shop, you can see the wire lamp frames just waiting to be turned into a beautifully handcrafted lamp. The wire frames are custom made specifically for Studio Veneto. studio veneto fortuny reviving charm studio veneto fortuny reviving charm

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If you are looking to incorporate a bit of Italy into your decor, be sure to pay a visit to Studio Veneto or check out the website.studio veneto la jolla Reviving Charm 5

 

Weekend Getaway: La Jolla, California

Our recent weekend getaway to La Jolla and San Diego over the 4th of July weekend reminded me that the Mr. and I must take long weekend vacations more often! Today’s post is a quick recap to touch upon some of the highlights of La Jolla, California. We stayed at La Estancia, which you may remember from a previous post. I spent a good amount of time getting some R&R, as well as spending time at the spa to indulge in an 80-minute massage and 50-minute facial. One of the highlights of my spa experience was when my therapist remarked that I must not wear any makeup because my skin looked so good. Coming from a professional, that is quite the compliment. It’s good to know that my fairly involved skin care regimen is working. I also took long naps to catch up on some much-needed sleep. The atmosphere of La Estancia fits the bill for a nice relaxing getaway. If you choose to book your own vacation at La Estancia just be sure to reserve a room on the third (top) floor of the hotel so you won’t get any noise from upstairs guests.

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My favorite dining experience was finally getting to try the French restaurant, Bistro Du Marche. I was able to get my fix of escargot as well as try some other wonderful dishes. My dessert, Tarte à la Banane, was a delicious banana tart with toasted hazelnuts, brûléed bananas, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect end to a wonderful meal. I even had a nice drink, the Twisted Negroni, comprised of Aperol, sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine. There is a quote on their website from John Walters that I couldn’t agree with more: “The only thing I like better than talking about Food is eating.” Amen!
La Jolla dining Reviving CharmNo trip would be complete without a little shopping. Luckily, I have a great husband who enjoys shopping just as much as I do….although sometimes that can become dangerous! We went through a few vintage and antique shops, even visiting those I mentioned in this post. However, I was a little disappointed to learn that my favorite antique shop, Etcetera’s, is now closed. I only brought home one souvenir, which is the straw clutch purse that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I should have bought the vintage silverware shown below for appetizers. I’m still kicking myself…

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So there you have it…a quick recap in pictures of how we spent a couple of days in La Jolla. In an upcoming post I will be highlighting one of the unique shops in La Jolla that I paid a visit to. I will also be sharing a bit about the remainder of the trip spent in San Diego. I am excited to share a new discovery with you. Stay tuned…