Travel Diary April 2021
April 21, Crete, Greece
Understandably, the tiny cross poking out from the jagged mass of boulders probably won’t be the first thing you notice while basking poolside at Villa San Matteo. But then again, that’s how the beauty of Crete hits: softly, poetically, in humble discoveries nearly hidden by the powerful punch of nature. In fact, perched atop many a hilltop plateau on the island are various monasteries and chapels. One sliver of the villa’s beauty, atop Cape Koutoula, is waking up to one of these beacons every single day.
April 6, 2021, Sicily, Italy
“Going to Sicily is better than going to the moon,” Gabriel García Márquez once said. We'd have to agree - a journey to this magical Italian island – long beloved by writers, painters and let's be real, the good life-loving general populace – would surely beat any interstellar journey. N'orma, a traditional Sicilian baglio, sits inside its quiet town of Chiaramonte Gulfi, surrounded by olive trees, bocce lawns, and a slender, jewel-like pool - pleasures that the moon simply cannot offer. And if you still want a peek at a lunar landscape, there's always a day trip to the coast's active stratovolcano, Mount Etna. No rocketship travel necessary.
April 8, 2021, Cyclades, Greece
"I will never forget the dreamy snowy white color, which got in my eyes when I landed in Syros at dawn," the Greek author Alexandros Moraitis wrote of the island, lesser trodden among those of the Cyclades chain. Indeed, Syros looks to be frosted, with its dove-colored beaches, swan-shaded villages and pearly white coastline. At Kokkina Villa, also of the island's sun-bleached grace, you'll find an earthy and timeless design, with a luxurious sense of comfort. Imagine ending your day in the pool, seemingly suspended over the sea, with views over Plagia Bay. Things to ponder: Does the snowy white illuminate just so, electrified by the Aegean's singular blue?
April 12, 2021, Alentejo, Portugal
Casas Caidas' half moon-shaped swimming pool reminds us of two favorite lunar phases: the first and third quarters. To align, we're asked to take action, then rest. Luckily, this group of restored ancient water mills, enveloped by the greenery of olive trees with roots that descend for centuries, offers abundant opportunities for both. And when night falls, the visibility conditions are like no other place in southern Europe for sky gazing. Don’t forget to look up, or if you’re still poolside, look across the placid demilune for a double moon - aptly considered a call for reflection and adaptation.
April 14, 2021, Puglia, Italy
Larry Bell meets The Smurfs in this ancient compound of structures that combine conical shapes and quarried stone… with giant glass cubes. Allow yourself to bask in the bridge between tradition and modern minimalism at Brindisi Trulli, set within a thicket of olive groves, fruit orchards and native Mediterranean gardens, just outside the famous “White Town” of Ostuni. Normally, this is when we might wax about which room has the best view, but here inside the cube – maintaining the theme with a rustic table and clear Panton-style chairs – there’s no need to go looking, and every reason to just look.
April 6, 2021, Mérida, Mexico
“Real color is risky, not the tame stuff that comes out of tubes,” land artist Robert Smithson wrote in his travelogue about the Yucatán. Such naturally-dazzling color imbues Casa Sisal, also in the Mexican state and built using chukum bark. This ancient Mayan technique infuses the stucco with a pinky peach-meets-elephant skin pigmentation, and a warmth and originality that no paint could ever match. Come soak in this light-loving hue, among the 30-foot lily pond and three-sided infinity pool, and explore an area that inspired one of the greats. (We also suggest giving "Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatán” a read before you go!)
April 19, 2021, Sicily, Italy
“Tree at my window, window tree… let there never be curtain drawn between you and me,” Robert Frost once wrote in a poem. His words came to mind when we were daydreaming about Respiro Country House this morning, a Sicilian stone home spread over one acre of wild Mediterranean scrub, culminating in its views of the gold-green Ispica Valley. This is a place for openness and expansion, not limited to curtains and windows, and a reminder that nature – if you’re truly looking – is kin to our own dependability, rootedness and resilience.
April 21, 2021, Le Marche, Italy
"Italy in miniature" is the nickname for Le Marche, a region of Italy with such a vibrant landscape quilt – vine-covered hills, the Sibillini mountains, the Adriatic coast – that it seems like all of Italy, writ tiny. Farmhouses here offer authentic and idyllic accommodations, and one of our favorites is Casa Olivi, a historic home modernized by Swiss architects. It's quintessential Italy, with its gourmet kitchen (time to finally learn to make spaghetti vongole) and a stunning pool (perfect for relaxing with a glass of local vidicchio). In sum, a sliver of Earth that keeps us ever in praise of the small.
April 26, 2021, Tulum, Mexico
Where will you drop your pin next? If it’s truly up in the air, consider this aerial view of Ambre & Epices, a Moroccan-style riad enveloped in Tulum’s tropical jungle. Here, bleached whites mingle with jewel and igneous rock tones – a sapphire pool, amethyst-hued sunbeds, obsidian accents – while the peninsular flora of the Yucatan gently brushes in around you. With Moorish-influenced design and Mexican-Moroccan fusion cuisine, it’s a bit like visiting both Marrakesh and Tulum at the same time. Buy one ticket, pack one suitcase, and drop on in.
April 30, 2021, Puglia, Italy
The Puglian olive tree is our spirit plant: thriving in a sunny position, at its best in maturity, with roots that run deep into the earth. For quenching these arboreal thirsts (also, our need of a deep watering every once in a while) our spirit summer will be spent at Villa Ashyana, an abstract oblong shaped dwelling with geometric lines, softened by traditional tufa stone walls and bisected by the land with a 20-meter swimming pool. Because after all, we're just like the trees: the better we’re cared for, the more fruit life bears.