The Pragser Wildsee | Il Lago di Braies

The color of the water and the fact that is one of the few lakes accessible by car, thanks to a parking lot few meters away, made this of the most instagrammable – such a bad word, I know – one in Italy.

The Pragser Wildsee, also known as Lago di Braies in Italian, is located between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Bozen, in South Tyrol on the border with Austria.

There is a possibility to rent a boat and explore the lake on your own, without getting to close to the shore or the boat will fall apart. My personal advice is to take some time to hike and explore the lake by land.

On a sad historical note, in 1945 the area was the scene of the transport of concentration camp inmates to Tyrol during the final weeks of the Second World War in Europe.


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lauraThe Pragser Wildsee | Il Lago di Braies

Cortina d’Ampezzo | Where to sleep

If you are looking for a place to stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo, look no further.

I was on an assignment for Collater.al in the Dolomites and this was my second time in the area. The ski resort it’s just a 4-hour driving from Milan and high season starts in December, with the first snow, until spring.

I remember my mom’s stories about Cortina: it was so much popular when she was young, it was one of the last places in Italy where you could ski even in Summer – or maybe it’s just a story I like to remember.
These memories brought back to my mind scenes from a past I never lived but I only saw on old movies: dance floors from the 1970s, après-ski parties, thermariums and of course good food.

For all these reasons my first choice in Cortina was the Hotel Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, probably the most iconic hotel in Cortina. Inspired by the Art Nouveau movement that characterises its architecture it’s also famous for the Monkey, one of the first dance floors opened in the area in the 1960s, and its beautiful SPA, where to relax and warm up at the end of a downhill ride.

Gianluca welcomed us at as soon as we arrived. He is from Valtellina but he moved here few years ago.
As a huge fan of The Shining the first impression I got from this place was quite close to the Overlook Hotel, but in a good way!

Chef Mirko Pistorello, originally from Venice, delights us with creamy cod and seasonal ingredients. After a couple of Lagrein red wine glasses I was ready to get a good night sleep before exploring Cortina and the area nearby in the next days.


Cortina d’Ampezzo | What to see
Cortina
Lago di Misurina
Tre Cime
San Candido
Lago di Braies
Brunico

Cortina d’Ampezzo | Where to eat
Locanda del Cantoniere, Cortina
Enoteca Braita Fraina, Cortina
Ristorante Pizzeria 5 Torri, Cortina
Ristorante Ra Stua, Cortina
Stauderhof, San Candido
Lanz, Area di Servizio, Sud Tirolo

Cortina d’Ampezzo | Where to sleep
Cristallo, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

This blogpost is in partnership with Cristallo, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spaall opinions are my own.

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lauraCortina d’Ampezzo | Where to sleep

Summer in Sicily

It’s been a while I did not spend any summertime in Sicily, for two main reasons: prices to fly there in August are extremely expensive and everywhere is insanely packed.
Living in Milan for most of the year means I don’t want to spend my time on holiday stuck in traffic and I don’t want to fight with the person next to me at the beach for some more room.
So, my personal piece of advice is keep reading this post to know how I escaped the crowd, but book your flight to get there in spring or fall to enjoy the best from this beautiful island and save some money you can reinvest in food 🙂
Read till the end, where my best recommendation is, but don’t skip there: there is a panino surprise in between!

I landed in Catania early in the morning, the same day my friends, Alessandra and Elena, were flying to Sicily.
I spent some time with my parents and after lunch I joined my companions for a couple of days together: off to Syracuse and Ortygia.
When in Sicily, my only religion for breakfast is granita and brioche, something really hard, I realised, for a non-Sicilian to understand.
The first day we went up north to Augusta to spend a nice day by the pool with some friends and to enjoy a warm sunset at Sbarcatore dei Turchi. Good wine and fresh seafood for dinner in Brucoli.


The day after we drove to San Lorenzo and the Vendicari Nature Reserve. If you are in this part of the island you can also go and visit Noto, a typical Sicilian Baroque town, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.
We already visited the city so we decided to skip it this tipe, and admire the sun going down at dusk in Capo Passero. Marzamemi, a fisherman village, was our choice for dinner.
My personal advice: don’t go to Marzamemi in August. It’s a beautiful and traditional village but really too small to handle the amount of restaurants and people gravitating there in summer. But again, go in late spring or beginning of summer and you’ll be fascinated by Marzamemi and its beauty.
The third day, was the best one if we are talking about food.
A crazy, in a good way, man is running the Caseificio Borderi cheese shop in Ortygia, the island of Syracuse. His name is Andrea and, as he said, he spent his entire life being a cheese maker, and his name was famous only in Sicily. He is now making sandwiches since the last two years and he is renowned in the entire country of Italy. The reason is simply said: these panini are simply delicious. A sandwich with all-inside: fresh cheese – at least 4 different types – fresh herbs and vegetables and, if you are not vegetarian, some charcuterie from his shop.
Wait in line for your turn, he will delight you with jokes and stories while playing with food for making the most appetising panino you can get in Italy. His very patient wife at the counter will surprise you, again in a good way, with the bill.

I left my friends in my hometown, Catania, where I joined back my family. Some quality time with them and my nephew. Days of relax and healthy food. The day the the beach and the night some freshly picked tomatoes and zucchini from the vegetable garden, eggs from my dad’s chicken, and the most amazing shooting star I’ve ever seen while drinking a beer with my parents lying back looking up at the sky.
If you are in Catania and want to try something different go on a hike on Mt Etna – perfect at sunset – and enjoy a glass of Nerello Mascalese wine, or – and that’s my favorite thing to do when there – join Carmelo and his Surf School for a class. Impossibile to be disappointed – unless there are no waves around!


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lauraSummer in Sicily

Discover Antwerp Through Experience… and coffee shops

Antwerp. Between Brussels and Rotterdam. Not that far from Milan but close enough to always say “one day…” without booking my trip.
That day came last March, when I received a call from Jasper, the editor-in-chief of This is Antwerp, inviting me to be part of D.A.T.E. – Discover Antwerp Through Experience – together with some other creatives from Europe. Ending our journey with an exhibition of six of them. Great illustrators, smart people and now friends, after a week together.



DAY 1 – I took an early morning flight with Brussel Airlines from Linate Airport to Brussels. From the airport there is a train to Amsterdam that stops at Antwerp Central Station.
The lovely Astrid was there waiting for me. A quick stop at the Hotel and then we rode our bikes to join the crew. I was so tired for the first two hours, I had no idea how to match names and faces. Sorry guys!
We had lunch at Coffeelabs and, after that, an incredible workshop with Stoffel and An from Kastaar print workshop.
20 minutes for a rapid shower and then off for dinner at Native, a small restaurant using local ingredients to create a really good dinner. Truly recommended.

DAY 2 – Wake up call – literally! – at 8am. A bike tour courtesy of Cyclant to explore and discover the architecture in Antwerp, including the newly opened Harbor House, designed by Zaha Hadid.
Lunch at Brel. Oh mamma, I still dream of their ravioli. Too good to spend time to photograph them!
When you are in Belgium, ça va sans dire, the keyword is beer. A tour inside the local brewery De Koninck was the best way to spend the afternoon before taking a deserved nap.
Moroccan dinner at Bizanaat. Then some sleep. Or maybe beer? 


DAY 3- This was my solo day. After spending the morning with all the other guys, I decided to take some time for myself, exploring the city on my own and discovering some of the best coffee shops in town.
Normo – Really nice location and staff. Their main business is coffee but I’d like them to serve some iced tea without sugar during summer.
CaffèNation – YES! Coffee is really good, and I’m glad I’ve found a place in Milan selling their beans.
St. Vincent – This is the place. It’s a clothing store with a coffee corner inside. It’s so beautiful and cinematographic you can’t resist any single detail.
Kaffeenini – “Do you have any iced tea without sugar?” “Yes, we have strawberry tea” Finally! 🙂 One of that plus a bread pudding with mixed seeds as a refreshment after walking in the heat the entire day.
Dinner was in the beautiful place you can see below: Fosbury and Sons. The location where Josè, Marianna, Dennis, Alessandra, Siggi and Sarah exhibited their works last June.

DAY 4 – A relaxing day before the opening of the exhibition. I walk around the city, visiting the Graanmarkt 13 store, but I’ll try the restaurant for lunch next time I visit Antwerp.
A quick snack at Frites Ateliers, a Belgian fries shop opened by Sergio Herman. His restaurant The Jane is another reason I want to go back soon, being sure to book a table in advance.

DAY 5 – The last day in Antwerp deserves a single blog post all for itself.
Nadia, my travel companion for that day, kindly drove me to a place in the countryside. A mysteriousp place. It’s all about Alex Vervoordt. A really great discovery!

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lauraDiscover Antwerp Through Experience… and coffee shops

One Thousand and One Nights in Marrakech, Morocco

I love to travel and I don’t mind to travel alone. For my birthday this year I was looking for a trip to Marrakech, a place that – according to my friends who’ve been there – you love or you hate. No half measures.
I was searching for flights and Riads when KAYAK reached me out to be part of their #KAYAKHacksMarrakech campaign. Perfect timing!

DAY 1 – I left Milan early in the morning to land in Marrakech right after lunch. It was April and really hot and humid. The keyword is “negotiate” about everything. It’s not easy but it’s part of the Berber culture – so get used to it! A cup of mint tea at La Famille and then a visit to the Bahia Palace, a complex of beautiful buildings and gardens built in the late 19th century. I tried to visit the Saadian tombs but they were just closing to public when I arrived. So I stopped at an herbalist’s place where I learned more about how to mix and match herbs. Do you know rosemary, oregano, thyme and rose flowers together can let you lose up to 4 kg in 10 days? I don’t know if it’s true, but they say so…
Then I met Ahmed who told me more about his culture and Berber traditions and let me take a shot at sunset from his terrace.

DAY 2 – I was pretty tired the first night so I went to bed really early. A good idea because, even if I’m not a morning person, I woke up the day after when everyone was still sleeping and I crossed the city before they opened markets and no tourists were around. I walked from my Riad to Jardin Majorelle – let me say a bit overrated. That blue is incredible and I think I have some good shots in my film camera. Wish me luck when I develop the roll!
After that I tried to walk back to che city center but I met a guy who insisted a lot to lead me into a tannery. He said I was really lucky to experience that because it was the last day of work – I didn’t believe that but bravely I followed him anyway into that stinky place. They give you some mint in case the smell of the leather and some natural colors, like pigeon poop, is too strong.
Weirdly Marrakech reminds me a little bit of Bangkok. I took a cab and I had lunch at Mamounia, and guess what I got? A thai papaya salad!
Some shots around the area and finally off for some rest – did I say it was really hot? – a massage and dinner.

DAY 3 – Breakfast at Café des épices where I tried typical small sweets made with almonds. A visit to the Maison de la photographie, a really nice little museum where you can find some great shots of Marrakech and you can enjoy the city through the eyes of someone else. A stop at Le Jardin for a refreshing drink and I got lost into Norya ayroN shop and her beautiful textiles.
For lunch I had no doubts I wanted to try Nomad, everyone is talking about this restaurant with a beautiful view from its terrace. Between tagine and cous cous I said yes to a vegetarian pastilla, a traditional Moroccan pie stuffed with seasonal vegetables or meat.
The afternoon was all about relax and a special treatment at the riad. I stayed at Riad Les Boungainvilliers in the Medina. The location was perfect because I only used cabs a couple of times. Marrakech is pretty easy to walk, but keep your GPS on, save places in Google Maps so you know exactly where you are when exploring the city on your own.
This journey is in partnership with KAYAK and I’ve honestly found very useful the trip section in their app because it does exactly what I used to do for all my trips. It collects all the informations – flights, hotel and other stuff – in chronological order. Even if you made reservations from different sites, you just send an email to Kayak from the email address associated with you account… et voilà! Everything is there.

My experience in Morocco is also on my instagram feed.

 

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lauraOne Thousand and One Nights in Marrakech, Morocco