Style: People: St. Barth's & Amalfi Coast
St. Barth's & Amalfi Coast
At the end of 2011, we quizzed members and staff about their favorite discoveries this year. Indagare member Julie Helfrich enjoys her French and Italian flavored trips of 2011. Read more Best-of-2011 Interviews.
My favorite trip? Definitely St. Barth’s. We went in late April, and had perfect weather without the high-season crowds. We stayed at the casual-chic and tres Francais Isle de France, which is ideally situated on heavenly Flamande Beach. Our lazy routine for four days consisted of reading on the beach, delicious meals every day, (especially lunch at the Sand Bar) and fun shopping. My big adventure was leaving my husband lolling under a palapa and jumping into our rented Mini Cooper convertible for stunning Gustavia where I refreshed my beach wardrobe. We were celebrating our twenty-seventh anniversary but the uber-easy, flip-flop vibe took us back to our carefree dating years in California.
Il Caruso Belvedere in Ravello, high above the Amalfi Coast, is the type of hotel that tempts you to skip the sightseeing and spend your days lounging by the pool, lunching on a shady terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, and napping in your quiet room with the window open to a gentle breeze. Luckily, there’s not a lot to see and do in tiny Ravello, though the town is lovely. The hotel staff offered friendly but discreet service and simple but sophisticated food. Elegant is an understatement: Il Caruso Belvedere destinations/128/departments/26#article_5770 defines la dolce vita.
Busatti textiles store (Lungarno Torrigiani, 11; 33(0)55 263 8516) in Florence became my addiction this year. The adorable husband-and-wife-store has been making linens in Tuscany for hundreds of years in the same time-honored tradition, mixing their own dyes from nature. They will even patiently work with you while you customize sizes, colors, and details such as fringes. The linen has a rustic but refined look that I love, ironed or wrinkled. I hope I overcome this addiction soon because I now have a lifetime supply of napkins.
What did I learn on the road this year? Well taking your question quite literally, I can now say that driving in Paris is not as scary as it looks. In fact, it’s a blast! Hotel Bristol has a Smart Car available for guests to use and its diminutive size (it’s really just a motorized shopping cart) minimizes the challenge of parking. Rules of the road are not terribly unlike those in the U.S., and drivers are relatively orderly. It helped, however, to have a maps app on my phone as the car did not have a navigation system… This proved a necessity in a city with such a multitude of one-way streets.