Settling into Spello in Umbria

I have a passion for things Roman. In part it derives from my passion for the ancient Greek cultures that the Romans used as their foundations. And in part, the stories that you hear about Rome and its history are mind boggling.

So I have a fascination for how Romans liked to live. What they thought was beautiful. And one of those things that they thought was beautiful was the craft of mosaic tiling. They invested hugely in creating amazing mosaics.

In the town of Spello, they have a museum dedicated to this.

Here is the promo

Spello, one of Umbria’s prettiest medieval walled towns, famous for its narrow streets, marble buildings, the Infiorata (flower carpets on the Corpus Domini feats), and the Baglioni chapel frescoed by Pinturicchio, unveiled last month a breathtaking ‘old-new’ building, the Villa of Mosaics, an exceptional archeological discovery now turned into a museum complex and an architectural jewel.

This picture makes Spello look very special

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This is pretty nice as well

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You might stay at the Hoel Palazzo Bocci

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And how will you get on? This writer thinks you will be just fine

You need long days to savor the gifts Spello offers. So first things first, find accommodations in Spello and plan on spending a week, more if you can. You want to have time to decide if you prefer your afternoon Spritz in Bar Bonci’s garden overlooking the countryside or Bar Tullia’s patio where you can watch old ladies fawn over babies bundled in their strollers.  You’ll want to pop into the bakery a few times—the choices vary daily but everything is always wonderful. You’ll want to watch the town wake up. You’ll want to watch the sun set over the distant hills. You’ll want to enjoy Umbrian cuisine, and most restaurants aren’t open for lunch. You’ll want to lean out of your window and do nothing but watch the swallows dance.

Bar Bonci?

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And, of course the Villa dei Mosaici  di Spello

With nearly 500 square metres recovered, Spello’s Villa of Mosaics is one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries in Umbria. Dozens of rooms with stunning mosaic floors: geometric decorations, wild animals and mythical creatures, human figures and scenes of everyday life. Stone tile flooring of rare beauty.

Sign me up! And BTW, you probably want to know something about the wines of Umbria. Check out this fun video!

 

 

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Do You Need a Luxury Wine Tour?

Errr … I so much want to say that I do need this. But the reality is that I will survive without it.

At the same time, I totally get how folks who are looking for amazing vacations and who love wine want more than just to drive around in Napa Valley.

And with Wine Paths, they can go very, very far with that, in many destinations around the world.

This is the core diea

“We are the only high-end wine tourism platform that is truly international,” he says. The impressive collection of partners include 284 wineries, restaurants, hotels and local travel agents, many of which are not present on any other wine tourism platform, like Bollinger and Château Mouton Rothschild. “Our brand becomes the reliable option for the customer like the Michelin Guide for restaurants, even if we are a long way from their notoriety.”

What does that mean? Consider the author’s experience with Wine Paths in Napa

Clients have the option of booking suggested tours directly incorporating preferred partner wineries, restaurants and hotels or working with a local travel expert to tailor a dream holiday. I was impressed with their ability to get me a weekend reservation at The French Laundry with less than a month’s notice – it’s easily the hardest reservation to get in all of Napa Valley and not even a Wine Paths partner. Thomas Keller’s flagship restaurant recently completed a three-year, $10-million renovation expanding the kitchen, private dining room and outdoor courtyard with a sleek, modern design by Copenhagen-based Snøhetta.

That is just the beginning — check out the article for more!

This is the future of travel, my friends, custom tours tailored around your shared passions. And, I will add, I love it!

And I will love it more when this becomes more of a “bottoms up” instead of “top down” idea. In other words, what is just for high priced luxury consumers now, should be a standard that we can all enjoy no matter where we want to go.

That would be very cool indeed!

Paul George to the Sixers?

I know. Let’s not take our eye off the playoffs. We have an incredible game 5 tonight where the Sixers could close out their tough series against the Heat. That is priority one. I get that, and cannot wait to see the game.

But … lots of folks think that the Sixers are not quite the team that they could be. They thought that moving up in the draft to get Fults would take them there, but Fultz has not given the Sixers what they wanted yet. He may and yet he may not.

That opens the door to thinking about that elusive third star. Is it Lebron? Or could it be Paul George?

George may opt out of his contract with the Thunder at the end of this season. If he does, the Sixers — along with all the other teams int he league — would have a shot at persuading George to move.

Would George fit in with the Sixers. Check out Bret Stutuer’s argument that he would in the above link. At 6’9″ George might just be that added wing that the Sixers need.. Would leBron better better? Well, he is the best player in the world right now.  But George would be extremely good as well.

Some food for thought!

Bombay Beach Goes Boho and Wacko is Not Into it!

At one time, Bombay Beach was a resort town on the Salton Sea in California.  But things went south.

… the lake is dying. It formed in 1905 when the Colorado river breached a canal and poured into this dry desert basin, creating a habitat for hundreds of species of fish and birds. Bombay Beach and a few other resorts sprang up and thrived in the 1950s.

Then growing salinity and agricultural pollution killed the fish. Their bones are what makes the beaches white. Hunger and disease ravaged the birds. The lake is receding, leaving winds to whip up toxic, odiferous soil. The smell can travel far, notably in a 2012 event known as “the big burp”.

That is not the end of the story. Things started turning around a few years ago when Bombay Beach was discovered by the Los Angeles boho crowd.

Stefan Ashkenazy, who owns the Petit Ermitage hotel in West Hollywood, is Bombay Beach’s svengali. He has bought several abandoned lots and brings in artists to transform them.

The Petit Ermitage?

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Here is a peek inside

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In Bombay Beach are talking about this kind of aesthetic

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And this

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Wacko, is an 80 something long time resident of Bombay Beach and Wacko is just not into it. Where  is all this kookiness headed?

Stay tuned!

As the Sixers Approach Game 5 Against the Heat

There is a consensus among observers that this series has been very intense. More intense than a usual first round playoff series. Why? I think it has to do with 2 factors.

The first factor was the initial Sixer blowout win. That hurt Heat pride. They became determined to get their own back. And they did that in game 2 with a more intense style of play.

The second factor is that the new Heat style of play was to beat up on the Sixers. They pretty much got away with it in game 2. But that triggered a Sixer reaction in games 3 and 4 — the Sixers got physical as well. With both sides pushing the bully ball button, you were bound to test emotional limits. And  we did.

So what about game 5? I think it will be more of the same and perhaps more intense still. The Heat have their backs to the wall.  They will come out fighting. Watch out!

Meanwhile, a funny thing is happening around the league in other first round match ups. There are not many run away series. The Pels are the only team that has swept their first round opponent (the Trailblazers). The Pels? Who would have thunk it!! Everyone else has lost at least 1 game. Moreover, series that many thought would gone one way have gone the other. I am mainly thinking of the Cavs. The Pacers have given them fits, and LeBron had to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win game 4 and tie the series at 2 each. And the short handed Celtics who seemed to be cruising, have now lost 2 to the Bucks. That series is also tied. Ditto for the Raptors and Wizards.  Who would have thought that the Wizards would put up such a fight against he first seed Raptors?

The trend is that most teams are more evenly matched than we have seen in the past. Even the Warriors and the Rockets have lost 1 each. That means most teams are beatable. Good news for the Sixers!

My bet — the Sixers come out strong in game 5 and take it to a hard fighting Heat. The game will be ugly and physical. Let’s hope no one gets hurt. But the Sixers will prevail. They have too many weapons for the Heat to defend, and too much dominance on the glass and too much Ben, Joel and 3 point shooters. And they have proved that they can play bully ball too.

If the Sixers win, they will face either the Bucks or the Celtics. I think either will be easier to beat than the Heat have been.  That means the Sixers are a good bet to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  My next bet is that they will face the Raptors there. And call me crazy, but I think the Sixers can beat the Raptors (especially if the Wizards have beaten them twice)!

So that means, the Sixers could make it to the NBA finals. Wow! At that point, my crystal ball clouds over.

One last point —- I have been making predictions about how the Sixers were going to do all season long. In each case, I thought I was being optimistic. And in each case, I was more optimistic than the “experts” that I follow. And in each case, the Sixers did better than I thought they would. Don’t sell this team short!

Onward!