July 18, 2014

Europe: Simply Irresistible Link Party and Island Hopping in Italy

I am participating in the Europe: Simply Irresistible Link Party sponsored by Anita from Castles Crowns and Cottages which runs for a whole week beginning today until next Friday. Anita is throwing una grande festa and has requested that we all leave our posts up for the entire week, allowing bloggers to use the time when they might otherwise be posting to enjoy visiting the posts by the other participants.
For the past few years Anita has sponsored the France:Simply Irresistible party, but this year she has expanded it to all of Europe. There are more than fifty bloggers participating...all writing about their favorite aspect of Europe.  As you can imagine, there will be some pretty remarkable posts for your reading pleasure...you won't want to miss any of them!

And, be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter a fabulous giveaway!  

It probably won't be too much of a surprise to you that I will be writing about Italy...
my favorite country in the world. However, I wanted to take you off the beaten path a little bit and showcase some parts of Italy with which you may not be familiar...a few of the gorgeous islands scattered around the country which are not regularly visited by American travelers. 

This is going to be a lengthy post...but it is staying up for an entire week. Grab another cup of coffee (or glass of wine) and savor these stunning islands...or take a peak at a different island each day. Whatever you do...enjoy the party!


Ischia and Procida:

Looking for an alternative to Capri or the Amalfi Coast? On the opposite side of the Bay of Naples from Capri sit two gorgeous volcanic islands, Ischia and Procida,  both of which have been enchanting travelers since the days of Virgil.

Ischia is the more visited of the two islands and is known for its thermal baths and spa resorts. The five star spa resort Terme Manzi Hotel and Spa offers a multitude of activities including access to the famous thermal baths.

 The tiny island of Procida, known for it's pastel homes and lemon groves. is picture perfect.  Stay at the tiny 10 room La Casa Sul Mer, where every room has a breathtaking view, for a fraction of what you would pay on the Amalfi Coast. 

Both islands can be reached by hydrofoil from Naples.


Not far from Rome, Ponza is a popular summer getaway for Romans. Rent a boat to get the best feel for the island...and don't miss the Grotte di Pilato, a series of cave pools carved by hand.

The Grand Hotel Chiaia de Luna overlooks the picturesque bay by the same name.

Ponza is just two hours from Rome, by train and ferry or hyrofoil.


 A paradise for wealthy Europeans, Sardegna (or Sardinia), in the Mediterranean Sea, is actually closer to Africa than Italy. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, particularly in the Costa Smeralda area.  The turquoise waters and pristine beaches have become a playground for the rich and famous, so unless your pockets are deep, you may want to avoid the high season in August. 

The Maddalena archipelago to the north is unspoiled and a haven for wildlife.

For over the top luxury stay at Hotel Romazzino in Porto Cervo or better yet, rent a villa! There are three airports in Sardinia with flights from all major European cites and it is also reachable via ferry from a number of Italian mainland ports.


 Venice is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, but many travelers never make it to the islands in the Venetian lagoon. Giudecca is just a three minute ferry ride from St. Mark's Square but feels worlds away from the crowds in Venice.

Stay at the the iconic Hotel Cipriani, an experience in and of itself, or the Bauer Palladio, with its beautiful private garden.  

 Both hotels offer private shuttles to Piazza San Marco allowing you to experience the best of both worlds...Venice AND the quiet island of Giudecca.

Monte Argentario:

Porto Ercole, via
 Okay, so Monte Argentario is not actually an island, but a promontory almost completely surrounded by water and only attached to the mainland by a tiny strip of land. Close enough...On the Tuscan coast, this area is easily reached from both Florence and Rome.

Porto San Stefano, via
There are two villages on Monte Argentario - Porto Ercole to the south and Porto San Stefano to the north, both molto bello.

 Il Pellicano is the place to stay in Porto Ercole with a two-Michelin starred restaurant and views as far as the eyes can see.


Isole Tremiti:

An archipelago off the Adriatic coast of Italy near the "spur" in the boot that is Italy, the Tremiti Islands get their name from "tremors" owing to the history of earthquakes in the area. With just 11 three star hotels you will find need to find your luxury in the scenery and crystal coves of these islands. There are no cars on the islands so be prepared to explore on foot or by water taxi.

With numerous coves and turquoise water, divers love exploring the Tremiti Islands.

As these islands are off the coast of Puglia, combining a trip to both would be a fantastic way to visit two relatively unknown parts of Italy. You can take a ferry from Termoli year round, or several coastal towns in Putglia and Abruzzo in the summer, or a relatively 50 euro helicopter ride from Foggia.


 So, there we have it...an Italian island paradiso for every day of the next week.
Please be sure to head over to Castles Crowns and Cottages and check out everyone else's posts this week! 

And, don't forget to enter the Sissy Yates Earrings Giveaway:

July 16, 2014

Traveling with Your Jewelry...And A Dazzling Giveaway!

Do you wear your "good" jewelry when you travel?  

Many people will tell you to leave your valuable items at home when you hit the road. Call me crazy, but I beg to differ. Personally, I feel naked without my engagement and wedding rings, my nice watch and my gold bracelet.  I wear them every day at home, so why shouldn't I wear them every day when I travel.  

Here are a few simple tips for traveling with your baubles:

Insure it. You should definitely insure your jewelry if you are wearing it every day. Most homeowner's policies allow you to add a rider for your jewelry which will cover replacement cost with no deductible no matter what happens to it (lost or stolen) when you are at home and traveling. 

 Do not travel with anything that cannot be replaced. Priceless heirloom jewels or the necklace you inherited from your Grandma are items you should leave at home.

Carry it in your purse when flying...NOT your carry-on bag. Sometimes you have to gate check your carry-on and you do not want anything valuable in there. Better yet, just wear your jewelry on the plane. 

Use the hotel safe...and if the hotel does not have a safe, then leave anything valuable at home.

Carry proof of ownership. If possible bring copies of sales receipts, appraisal certificates or insurance papers as proof of ownership. In doing this, you will avoid any potential problems with customs with regards to import taxes and customs declarations.

Match your jewelry to the trip you are taking. If you are going to the Ritz Paris, by all means glam it up. Backpacking through Indonesia? You will probably want to leave most things at home.

Be culturally sensitive.  If traveling in a country experiencing a struggling economy, you don't want to offend anyone or appear too flashy making yourself a target for thieves. 

Common sense should always prevail...of course you are going to wear your fine jewelry in Paris, but when you spend the day at les puces, you may want to leave it behind in the safe. The same goes for the beach...you don't want your engagement ring to end up like the necklace in Titanic!

Now...on to the giveaway!!

Since we are talking about bling today, I have two pairs of beautiful earrings from
Sissy Yates Designs to give to two lucky readers!

"Sissy Yates is a Washington DC based jewelry designer who features a unique collection of earrings, necklaces and bracelets designed with exquisite semi-precious stones sourced from around the world. Inspired by her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and by her childhood travels to the beaches of Cape Cod, the Caribbean, Europe and Mexico, Sissy is fascinated with the rich colors and the translucent qualities of rare stones. She incorporates these stones into her colorful designs, creating versatile pieces that are equally suited to Washington power lunches and casual New York City brunches."

AND, I might add, anything from Sissy's collection will add a gorgeous POP to your travel wardrobe!

How would you like to win a pair of these stunning earrings? TWO winners will each receive a pair of earrings - one green and one purple. Just follow the instructions below to enter. Giveaway ends July 25th. Good luck!!

July 14, 2014

Celebrate Bastille Day in Style ~ Shangri-La Hotel, Paris

The Shangri-La Hotel Paris was once the home to Napoleon's nephew...today, it would be the perfect place to celebrate Bastille Day...

Isn't that an amazing view? 

(all photos via Virtuoso)

July 11, 2014

Off To The Beach

Happy Friday!! It has been a wonderful week having Caroline home from DC for a few days. We have shopped 'til we dropped, eaten way too much (including lobster rolls twice in three days!) and spent more than a few lazy hours by the pool. Life in the summer is good...

We are off early this morning for the beach to meet up with my husband's family to celebrate his mother's 90th birthday! I was truly blessed with the world's most wonderful mother-in-law - she is one of the sweetest people I know. She is always laughing and happy. I hope that I can be like her when I am 90! Happy Birthday, Debbie!!

I will be back to "regular programming" next week, including a fun giveaway starting on Wednesday! I hope you all have a beautiful mid-summer weekend filled with sunshine, swimming, tropical drinks, picnics and ice cream (at least that is what I hope MY weekend involves!) wherever you may be wandering...