Melisses, Andros

Let’s start this trip from the beginning.

Last May, my friends Manu and Sibilla from MilanoSecrets were at Melisses, in Andros in the Cycladic archipelago.
Seeing their pictures, I fell in love with the place. I wanted to spend a long weekend in Greece this July, so I sent the first in a long series of messages to the owner, Allegra.
The place is truly magical. She is such sweet and kind person — and only 25 years old!
Homemade breakfast, unspoiled beach, great Greek food, sunsets and poolside aperitivo.
Everything perfect — if only Andros can fix its roads! Already looking forward to going back soon!
At night a view over the Milky Way is included!

Already looking forward to going back soon!

How to get there
You can land at Athens International Airport and then take a bus – if you have not so many bags and you are not in a hurry – or a taxi to Rafina Port.
Taxi should cost 30-40 euros. Better to book the ferry ticket online in advance.
You can also take the ferry from Mikonos.

 

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lauraMelisses, Andros

Sentiero Gourmet, a food path into the woods

While on assignment shooting villas, gardens and castles in Lombardy last year, I drove north toward the border with Switzerland, to a region called Valtellina. Due to a tight schedule I didn’t have enough time to explore the area, but I promised myself to come back there as soon as I could.

Livigno is a small town there: only a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Milan. It’s a tiny village famous in Italy as a ski resort during winter and as a training destination for athletes in summer.

I was invited to visit Livigno this July to experience the 3rd annual Sentiero Gourmet, a 5 kilometer food path into the woods. Five different locations serving traditional and reinvented dishes, from aperitivo to dessert, all paired with wine and live music.
I capped off the magical night with a glass of warm Taneda, a delicious local liqueur. 

Thank you Valtellina and Livigno for inviting me.

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lauraSentiero Gourmet, a food path into the woods

Les Jardins d’Etretat, Normandy

They says Monet used to paint from a corner in Les Jardin d’Etretat. And it’s impossible not to be inspired by his painting “The Cliff, Reflection on Water” when admiring a long sunset over the bay of this small town in Normandy.

Designed by the Russian landscape architect, Alexandre Grivko, of Il Nature, the garden is dedicated to Madame Thébault, a famous actress of the early twentieth century. She planted the first tree on this hill in 1903 and was a close friend of Monet. 

Another legend has it that Queen Marie-Antoinette was behind the construction of the oyster beds in Etretat to satisfy her insatiable appetite for the shellfish. It’s no coincidence that the best place in town to get some juicy, delicious oysters is named after Marie-Antoniette herself! 

The garden looks a little bit like a matrioska, with different small gardens and corners built inside the main one.

The Jardin Avatar with the Clockwork Forest installation by the British Collective Greyworld

The Jardin Émotions inspired by those historical oyster beds; the Jardin Impressions dedicated to the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. The Jardin d’Aval with its orchids that lead us through the labyrinth of the Jardin La Manche and finally to the Jardin d’Amont at the very top of the garden. 

And finally my favorite: the Jardin Zen, which features an audio art installation by the Russian artist Sergey Katran called “Until The Word Is Gone”. A series of terracotta sculptures replicating the shape of sound waves generated by recordings of the word “art” being said in 125 different languages! It’s really impressive. 

The weather at the end of May was perfect, the Atlantic Ocean gifted us beautiful sunsets, the air was clean, and all the people we met were very nice and welcoming. 

Merci Les Jardin d’Etretat for the kind invitation! Until next time, France.

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lauraLes Jardins d’Etretat, Normandy

A Gathering in the Finnish Woods

A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival.

Last May, I was invited by the PING Festival to join a gathering in the Finnish woods with Chef Joona Lehto. He cooked us a plant-based dinner with only fresh and local Finnish produce.

A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival.

A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival. A gathering in the Finnish woods, with Chef Joona Lehto, thanks to PING Festival.

I had my Canon A1 with me and decided to shoot the dinner using a roll of Kodak Portra 400 — and it turned out great! What a magical evening captured in film!

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lauraA Gathering in the Finnish Woods

A City Guide to Helsinki – Best Places in Town

The first time I travelled to Helsinki was two years ago, thanks to My Helsinki who invited me to experience the Helsinki Secret program. Since then I have been lucky enough to go back to Finland and experience Lapland in winter and the archipelago near Turku in summer – twice!

Frequent stops in Helsinki have allowed me to make friends who have introduced me to some of the best restaurants and bars in the city.

So, here is my personal city guide to Helsinki. Hope you enjoy it!

Breakfast / Pastries
Café Ekberg, best bread and pastries in town
The Cock, I know… And they open at 11am, but you’re on holiday, right?
Ipi Kulmakuppila, it’s in Kallio – the hipster neighbourhood of Helsinki – and it’s beautifully designed

Restaurants
Juuri, “Finnish cuisine with attitude.” Perfection in a dish. Impossible not to love it
Sandro, Middle Eastern flavours and a down-to-earth atmosphere
Fisken på Disken, looking for fish? This it the place
Savotta, traditional Finnish cuisine in front of the Helsinki Cathedral
Nolla, the best discovery of my last trip. Passionate owners, great chef and a food recycler compost machine – a must!
Vibami, quaint Vietnamese restaurant in the city center

Cocktails, beers and wine
Yes Yes Yes!, a perfectly designed and vegan friendly restaurants in a former McDonald’s. Sharable dishes and a fantastic selection of cocktails, wine, and beer!
Bier-Bier, good selection of beers from all over the world
Bar Bronco, local sports bar where you can watch hockey games
Holiday Bar, to pretend you are somewhere tropical even if it’s -10°C outside
Il Birrificio, if you are in the mood for craft beer and sausage
Soil Wine Room, good selection of wines and Spanish tapas

Coffee Shops
Andante, where Finland meets Japan (or viceversa)
Paulig Kulma, Finland’s most famous coffee roaster opened a coffee shop, a great place to get some work done!
El Fant, one of my favorite coffee shops. I usually get a green tea and an avocado toast. Trust me!

Hotels
Hotel Indigo, best location, friendly staff and nice rooms
Hotel Katajanokka, a former prison turned into a hotel
Aallonkoti, right next to the central station, it’s so comfortable you may not want to leave
Lilla Roberts, Art Deco hotel in the design district

 

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lauraA City Guide to Helsinki – Best Places in Town