Saturday, 27 August 2016

Italian Project Part II

This is the the second blog post about Casa Colle, the 18th centuary Italian townhouse in ancient Arpino, that we fell in love with earlier this spring (you can read more about Arpino and the house HERE!).

It was finally time to go back to beautiful Arpino and check on the progress of the renovations of Casa Colle. We were excited to say the least to come back and spend a week in our new hoods south of Rome. We were very happy with the results and deeply impressed with the skills, passion and attention to details that our builder Claudio and his team puts into the project. Everything seems to be going according to plan (or slightly ahead of original plan) and hopefully the final details will be ready by End of September when we return for the next inspection. We plan to have our furniture and some art moved down from Sweden in October and spend November as well as Christmas in our new Italian home - YAY!

This time we combined 4 days in Arpino with a trip to Naples and exploring the neighbouring little towns, while doing some work for new and old RED CITY PR clients at the same time. Business and pleasure mixed up, as we like it.
Beautiful Arpino!
We spent a day in the neighbouring city Veroli and walked the narrow streets of this luttle town.
A beautiful square in Veroli

The main town in the area is Sora, this is were we go for administration and legal stuff.
During our days in Arpino we managed to get our code fiscale (Italian social security number), open bank accounts, fix insurances, select all the lamps for the house as well as all kithcen appliences. And we had several meetings with our builder Claudio to go through the details of the renovation and make decisions on colours for walls, placing of lamps etc.

While waiting for our own Casa Colle to be finished we stay here, at the charming hotel Il Cavillier d'Arpino, located in a stunning palazzio.
The roof tops of Arpino

Arpino by night
The sunsets are truly spectacular!
Casa Colle was built back in 1700 and has now been fully resored and updated. The facade is still the original one but it has been inforced and earthquake secured.
The beautiful entrance door (still some renovations to be done on the door)

Entry to the house and where the dining room with views over the valley and kitchen will be located.
First floor lounge space with a beautiful arch and original and restored stone walls. The roofs are chestnut wood.
Stairs on the second floor and an original baking oven in the wall as a historic feature that will be lit up by spots.

This will be the master bedroom and the old built in cabinet will be restored.
Details: floors in terracotta tiles lined with marble, stairways in light oak and original 18th centuary stone walls all captured in the same picture.

Top floor will consist of a guest room and a lounge with this great view

Top floor with a small balcony...
...and a big terrace. Here Patrick is with our real estate agent Alison.
Many new friends, here we are with our builder Claudio and his family, our real estate agent with daugther and Jennie from Cape Town. A big Italian family that we enjoy many lunches and dinners with.

Introducing our neighbours and friends Connie and Peter. They are from Texas and have restored a beautiful palazzio and make their own wine, brilliant!
After Arpino we drove down to Naples where we found arches and patios like in Marrakech

Naples, the mall that is looking just like the famous one in Milan.
Our Italian friend Alfonso took us to Pizzeria Brandi, where the world's first pizza was made in 1780.
One last stop at a vineyard outside Rome and then it was time to head back to Marrakech.

Now we will face a busy month with work in Sweden and Morocco, but in one month we will return to (hopefully) check on the final result of the renovation of Casa Colle.
Ciao from Napoli!
Arrivederci Italia!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Insiders Guide Marrakech: our Top 3-lists

Insiders Guide is back with updated top lists of our favorite spots in the Red City! Check out the old and detailed Insiders Guide tips HERE! Marrakech is a vibrant and very happening city so the best places change quickly and there is always a new great resturant or cool bar opening (or old favorites losing their edge). In this blog post we present a quick overview over what we consider to be great places to eat, drink, stay, shop or have a hamam right now.
Below you will find top 3 lists for restaurants, bars, hotels, riads, spa:s, excursions, tourist attractions, shopping, coffee and clubs. We hope you will enjoy it and come to experience this magical city very soon for yourself! 

La Sultana, perfect for a romantic dinner
Top 3 Restaurants for dinner (fine dining)
1. La Sultana (amazing food in a beautiful setting)
2. Royal Mansour's  French restaurant (it does not get more posh than this, pricy but an experience)
3. La Mamounia's Italian (very stable food and a good wine list at the iconi Mamounia hotel)

I Limoni, our favorite Italian in the medina
Top 3 Restaurants for dinner (casual)
1. I Limoni (friendly Italian in the medina with excellent food and yummie desserts)
2. Amaia (easy going bistro)
3. Patron de la Mer (a new fish- and seafood restaurant with great food and cool ambience)
Beautiful Palais Riad Lamrani is a beautiful place to stay at or go to for a yummie lunch
Top 3 Restaurants for lunch
1. Palais Lamrani - Table du Palais (the most beautiful riad of the medina serves the best lunch in town)
2. Dar Donab (great spot for a relaxed lunch by the pool)
3. La Famille (a new and very nice vegetarian restaurant set in a lush garden)

The swimming pool (or should we say lake?) of Es Saadi Palace
Top 3 Hotels
1. La Sultana (sophisticated in a palatial setting)
2. Es Saadi Palace (Arabic style with stunning gardens)
3. Maison Arabe (an institution in the medina)

Stylish Riad Idra
Top 3 Riads
1. Palais Riad Lamrani (the most beautiful riad with excellent service and magical environment)
2. Riad Idra (chic and stylish boutique riad)
3. Riad Camilia (good value for money at this charming riad)
Or if available, rent Riad Arabe on an exclusive basis!

Roayl Mansour Spa
Top 3 Spa:s
1. Royal Mansour Spa (best of the best)
2. Dior Institut (Palace Spa of Es Saadi)
3. Selman Spa (amazing)

Le Jardin Secret
Top 3 Attractions
1. Heritage Museum Marrakech (amazing collection of artifacts and Moroccan history located in a beautiful riad)
2. Maison de photographie (a nice selection of black/white photos from the19th and early 20th centuary showing life in Morocco)
3. Le Jardin Secret (a lush and newly restored medina garden)
The main attraction for the future will no doubt be the new Yves Saint Laurent museum opening in 2017.

It goes without saying you should also visit Jemaa el Fna, Majorelle Garden and the Bahia Palace.

A day or two in Essaouira is always a good idea!

Top 3 Excursions
1. Atlas Mountains (stay at posh Kasbah Tamadot or charming Bab Ourika with views to die for)
2. Essaouira (stay at chic Villa Anouk or bohemic Maison des Arts)
3. The Stone desert (Scarabeo Camp), or go for the real thing: the Sahara desert and ERG Chigaga luxury camp (requires 3 days minimum)

Marrakech offers great shopping, both amazing traditional crafts as well as modern design items.
Top 3 Shopping
1. The souks of the medina (for traditional carpets, lamps, antiquities and hidden treasures)
2. Rue 33 Majorelle (close to Majorelle Garden offering modern Moroccan design with a twist)
3. Souk Cherifia (located in the medina, on the second floor you find small contemporary design shops)

Read more about shopping HERE, local designers HERE and some more shopping HERE!
If you can't come to Marrakech but want to get some cool, stylish Moroccan stuff - check out the fabulous M MONTAGUE SOUK online for the most stunning Moroccan high quality carpets and other great stuff!

Amandine - best bakery in Marrakech!

Top 3 places to go for coffee (and cakes)
1. Amandine (by far the best bakery in town!)
2. Cafe France (an institution for travellers)
3. Cafe Elite (perfect for a street view of the new town)

The impressive lobby bar of Royal Mansour

Top 3 Bars
1. Cocktail bar of Royal Mansour
2. Le Palace (head downstairs to the decadent bar and lounge)
3. Winston Churchill bar of La Mamounia

Top 3 Clubs
1. SoLounge (Sofitel)
2. Theatro (Es Saadi)
3. Bo Zin (outside town)

Dar JL luxury villas, the most stunning of properties located in a 12 acre park
Best luxury villas to rent:
Dar JL! 
Coolest retreat outside town:
Peacock Pavilions!
Hidden gem:
Musee de Palmeraie outside the medina with art exhibitions, lush gardens as well as a cactus garden

Stylish and cool Peacock Pavilions in an olive grove outside town.
Welcome, the Red City awaits you!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Bye bye Sweden, Hello Marrakech!

It's been a truly beautiful and amazing Swedish summer in the stunning Stockholm archipelago. We spent almost five weeks in our country home on the island Runmarö outside Stockholm and the Swedish summer was at it's best: around 25c and sunny most of the time.

We relaxed, read books, swam in the ocean, went running (around the island, approx 12 km) or working out (Tabata on the terrace) almost daily and enjoyed sunny lunches and late dinners outside just the two of us or with our friends. It was really nice to come back to this place that means so much to us. 

The beautiful ocean 

Runmarö is a quite large island (5x5 km) with both forests, nine lakes and open fields.

This is our little sanctuary and country cottage on the island.

One of our favourite spots on the island to go for a swim.

Different shades of blue, this is one of the nine lakes on the island.

Beautiful sunsets at our jetty. (This is the ocean)

Relaxing with coffee breaks in the garden... With cakes from the excellent bakery on the island.

...and wine on our jetty

One day we went to visit Patrick's whiskey barrel that will be ready next year (probably).
So great to meet our great friends!

And some more friends and family

Now it is mid August and it is already more chilly in Scandinavia. We are heading back home to Marrakech and 40c and sunshine. End August we will go back to Italy and check on the progress of our Italian project, the renovation of Casa Colle outside Rome. In the future we plan to use Marrakech as our base but also spend more time in both Italy and in Sweden. The best of three worlds.

Soon back in our beautiful little riad in Marrakech!

Back to the colours, smells and noises of the medina.

Have a great start of the fall season, wherever you are!