FOLLY 101

One of our go-to shops in Portland, Maine is Folly 101 where we always find a treasure or two for our table. The Folly 101 aesthetic is clean, simple and straightforward and, best of all, arranged entirely by color, which is especially pleasing to the eye. They don’t have a website, so you must go and visit in person — we love that.

Folly 101, 101 Exchange Street, Portland, Maine  

VIVE LE TOUR

The final stretch of the 1975 Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées, Paris. Photograph www.letour.com

We are huge fans of the Tour de France, now in its 111th year, and are so excited for opening day on Saturday, July 5. At the start of the Tour, I always think about Louis Malle’s 1962 documentary short Vive le Tour and more recently, Jason Berry’s fantastic 2010 documentary Chasing Legends, both very much worth your time. The 2014 Tour de France culminates on July 27.

www.letour.com   

WEDDING DRESSES 1775-2014

Silk satin wedding dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, 1933, given and worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

It’s no secret that we love a great wedding, and a great wedding dress. So you can imagine how excited we are about Wedding Dresses 1775-2014, a gorgeous exhibition that just opened last month at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. This chronological survey of the development of the wedding dress presents over 80 ensembles from both the outstanding V&A collection and loans, such as Gwen Stefani’s iconic Dior gown worn for her 2002 wedding to Gavin Rossdale, in addition to accessories, sketches and photographs spanning more than 200 years. And we loved the three videos created for the exhibition featuring designers Pam Hogg, Philip Treacy and Gareth Pugh. The great news is that Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 is on view through March 15, 2015 — we might just get there!

www.vam.ac.uk

BUVETTE

I think the best part of Jody Williams’ gorgeous new book, Buvette: the pleasure of good food, is how seamlessly the spirit of her very special West Village gastrothèque is translated on the page. This book, like Buvette itself, has great integrity. Thoughtful design on perfect weight paper, exquisite photographs, lovely and personal narrative and of course, the most simple and beautiful recipes. And if you hadn’t heard, Buvette now has an outpost in Paris!

Buvette: the pleasure of good food by Jody Williams (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014)

www.buvettegastrotheque.com

PAPIER D’ARMÉNIE

I recently received, from one of my favorite people, a lovely gift of papier d’arménie from France. Papier d’arménie and its Italian counterpart, carta d’armenia, are strips of paper coated with dried sap from styrax trees and when burned are used to freshen indoor air. In use since the 19th century, there is for me something so mystical about these papers. My box of carta d’armenia from Santa Maria Novella also came from a dear friend. I love the packaging so much that it has actually been sitting in my desk drawer for some fifteen years, inspiring me each time I open it. 

MODERN AT THE VATICAN

Mimmo Paladino, Sorgente, 2011, Vatican Museums

When I think about my first visit to the Vatican Museums, just two months ago, the word that immediately comes to mind is, in fact, MIND-BLOWING. Everything about it. The plethora of galleries and the vastness of space, the countless works of art and the massive scale of many of them, the history, the huge crowds, the gilt and marble. The very last galleries in the Vatican Museums that one encounters before entering the Sistene Chapel are those containing modern and contemporary religious art, a collection of some 800 works. In addition to numerous pieces by Henri Matisse, hundreds of artists are represented in these most serene spaces. They seemed to be the least considered by the throngs of visitors who passed them by, but for me, they were perfect and exactly what I was looking for in my cultural pilgrimage to Rome.                 

ART UNDERFOOT

The most breathtaking mosaic floors that I encountered in Rome were at the Vatican Museums. Along with the remarkable artistry and handwork of the mosaics, I love the integrity of design and powerful means of storytelling within this ancient tradition.    

But what I really treasured most, in my view from above, were the marble steps, once carved and now beautifully worn, by the countless visitors that have tread upon them. A mark of their own history.   


GIOLITTI

After an enviable amount of taste-testing, I think my favorite gelato in Rome was from Giolitti. Pear and chocolate with the thickest scoop of whipped cream on a cone — absolute perfection. Giolitti has a remarkably long history in the city. It is still run by the Giolitti family and is still located in the same spot on Via Uffici del Vicario where it opened in 1900, quite near to the Pantheon. I love the authentic, elegant tea room and shop where, in addition to the countless gelato flavors, you will also find lovely pastries and candies. It doesn’t get much more Roman than this.

Giolitti, Via Uffici del Vicario, 40, Rome

giolitti.it/en 

GALLERIA BORGHESE + ALBERTO GIACOMETTI

I’ve got Italy on my mind this week between finishing the novel Beautiful Ruins and thinking about my glorious trip to Rome one month ago. I saw a wonderful Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) installation at the gorgeous Galleria Borghese. It was fantastic to experience the surrealist sculpture of the Swiss-born Giacometti mingling with the some of the finest Renaissance and baroque sculpture in Italy. Perfect harmony. This was my first time visiting the Galleria Borghese. The ceiling frescoes and floor mosaics were especially resonant for me and are, without question, some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Giacometti la scultura runs through May 25

www.galleriaborghese.it