With the 2104 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics looming, Rio de Janeiro is poised to become Brazil’s cultural Mecca, proving that there is more to this city than sand and sex appeal…
The ancient Cinque Terre gem rebuilds gracefully
When massive landslides hit Italy’s Ligurian coast 18 months ago, damage to the medieval town of Vernazza was devastating, its stone streets, centuries-old landmarks, and picturesque waterfront left buried in mud. But in the disaster’s aftermath, this jewel of the Cinque Terre—a group of five villages designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is rebuilding in a sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. Pritzker Prize–winning British architect Richard Rogers, who has vacationed in the town for more than 50 years, is spearheading (with Italian architect Ernesto Bartolini) a master plan for the public areas that is funded by nonprofit organizations such as Save Vernazza.
The main square, Piazza Marconi, lined with pastel-color buildings, is being repaved with stones from the area; repurposed-wood benches and enhanced lighting are being added; and all phone and electrical wiring is being put underground. “We want to give more order to the services and civic spaces while returning Vernazza to what it was—one of the most beautiful small villages on the Mediterranean coast,” Rogers says.
Vernazza’s essential appeals are as they’ve always been—wandering the pedestrian-only streets out to its medieval castle with panoramic vistas; lounging on the little sandy beach with locals; poking into shops along Via Visconti. There are no big luxury hotels, though the guesthouse La Malà offers smart minimalist rooms with stunning views. Alternatively, atmospheric apartments can be rented through Trattoria Gianni Franzi, a terrific restaurant that dishes up just-caught anchovies, whole-grilled fish, and trofie, the preferred Ligurian short pasta, with pesto.
Breathtaking hiking trails wend along the surrounding cliffs, with an especially unforgettable stretch between Vernazza and Corniglia. For those more inclined toward an excursion by boat, there are many compelling side trips. One of the most memorable is the village of San Fruttuoso, home to a magnificent 13th-century Benedictine abbey and wonderful, simple trattorias like Da Laura, which serves spectacular fritto misto right on the beach.
What happens when you leave big-city life to open a hotel
in a picture-postcard village in Tuscany? You open another one.
2000, we were a typical New York media couple. I worked as a travel editor, always
on the hunt for the next hot destination, while my future husband, John, a record label executive, chased stars like Christina Aguilera and the Foo Fighters around the world on promotional tours. We worked all hours, and every once in a long while, enjoyed a night with no plans in our cute studio apartment in Brooklyn. We happy but exhausted.
For more than a decade, South American winemakers have been striving to put their bottles on a par with those from Napa or France. As we all know, they’ve made great strides—Argentinean wines climbed Wine Spectator’s Top 100 lists in recent years—so what more do they require? New hotels.
Don’t mention France. Corsica’s citizens don’t think much of being part of its domain, and after you visit this “mountain in the sea,” you may well understand why. From its culture to its cuisine to its wild white sand beaches and formidable interior, Corsica feels a world apart. Endowed with quiet fishing villages, a clear Caribbean-like sea, Roman ruins, and distinctive hotels, the island remains free of the overdeveloped coastlines that mar other parts of the Med. Throughout history, different interlopers have tried to lay claim to Corsica’s strategically important Mediterranean position: Ionian Greeks, Etruscans, Carthaginians, Romans, and, recently, the Italians and the French have all tried to tame it, to no avail. The once violent movement for independence from France has calmed down, although you will see signs with the French words spray painted over, and the Corsican language—a Latin derivative similar to Italian—is invoked for privacy when nosy outsiders are around. Best of all is the diversity that’s contained within a 620-mile coast. Visit all four regions or hunker down in one secluded hideaway—regardless, you’ll see why this was the seductive spot where Ulysses almost holed up forever.
Every winter my family and I take an epic trip that usually lasts more than two months. This year our itinerary includes Bhutan, Thailand and the Philippines. Our challenge: to fit everything into one checked bag for my toddler and me, one carry-on, and a small handbag.
If beautiful Murano glass is a strong draw to the Venetian Lagoon island, camera-snapping groups clogging the canals, and the cookie-cutter restaurants hoping to sell them a pizza along the way, can have the opposite effect. But thanks to a culinary newcomer, there’s a reason to return.
AFTER four hours of strenuous hiking, we had only just reached the bottom of the Torres del Paine. You can see the three granite monoliths from seemingly a hundred miles away (and on just about every postcard of Patagonia), but the full magnitude of their facades was revealed only after the last turn on the mountainous trail. We sat down, panting, and looked across a glassy, marble-green lake at the summits, reaching more than 9,000 feet into the sky. Despite their size, being so near to them felt strangely intimate.
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