Riomaggiore is one of the coziest, most charming little towns I’ve ever stepped foot in.

In July 2011, my family and I visited Florence. We took a nearly three-hour train ride from there to Riomaggiore, a village on the Italian Riviera, and one of the Cinque Terre (“five lands”). The five villages are located along a stretch of rugged coastline west of La Spezia, in the region of Liguria.

Village-hopping among the five is a popular activity with tourists, as all of them are very picturesque and easy to navigate. The homes are very close together and the roads are steep. Many residents must access their homes, gardens and private vineyards via a network of stone stairways.

[photos by Marie Look]

Amankora Punakha, Bhutan

Aman Resorts’ Amankora is comprised of five different lodges, all designed to be in balance with the environment, located in the central and western valleys of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Paying great respect to the Buddhist belief that people should live in harmony with their surroundings and fellow creatures, Amankora’s lodges aim to keep their impact on the land as small as possible. This lodge, Amankora Punakha (at an elevation of more than 4,000 feet), includes just eight suites, located in three rammed-earth dwellings situated in an orange orchard overlooking rice fields and the Punakha Valley.

Landlocked with China to the north and India to the south, Bhutan would make an ideal location for a completely remote retreat.

Thimphu, to the southwest of Panakha, is Bhutan’s capital and largest city. The throne room and offices of the King of Bhutan are located in Tashichho Dzong, a landmark building in Thimphu. The building’s name means “Fortress of the Glorious Religion.”

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[Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan’s government, in Thimphu, via #]

[Tashichho Dzong, via #]

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Bolshoi Theatre

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The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow is a Russian landmark and icon. It was built in 1824 and has since seen numerous performances by the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera. It’s also survived fires, reconstructions, the French invasion, Nazi bombs, Lenin’s orders to blow it up (his death was later announced from the Bolshoi’s stage), and other troubles.

In July 2005, the theater was closed for restoration. Six years and nearly $700 million later, it reopened in October 2011, complete with restored Imperial decor and better acoustics.

See some really interesting before and after photos of the theater’s restoration here.

[early 19th century]





So the theatre went from this [above] … to this [below] …

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Holstee T-Shirt Dress

Check out thisĀ T-shirt dress from Holstee. It’s a dress that’s a pocket and a pocket that’s a dress … with a pocket. Sounds at first like it could be a little kitschy, but the final product looks more than appealing.

The dress is cut, sewn and dyed in Los Angeles, using all-natural fibers (60% hemp/40% organic cotton), and it comes in white with a dark blue pocket, or black with a mint green pocket. There’s a video on showing how you can tuck the whole dress into the pocket for storage or travel (they also make a T-shirt that follows the same concept). Price for the dress is $55.

I’m thinking about the possibilities … As a travel nightgown for overnight or weekend trips. Pack it in my carry-on in case my luggage doesn’t make it. Use it as a pillow on the plane. Toss it in my gym bag to throw on after a workout.

I see this as just the kind of versatile, dress up or dress down thing that I would probably find myself packing over and over again …

Castillo del Lago

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Musician Moby started a quirky architecture blog recently, named what else but Moby Los Angeles Architecture Blog. Browsing it, I noticed he had featured the legendary Castillo del Lago, a Spanish-style Hollywood Hills manse originally built in 1926. Previous owners include Bugsy Siegel in the ’30s and Madonna in the ’90s.

Stats on this oldie but goodie? Nine bedrooms, six bathrooms and 7,780 square feet; and it overlooks Beechwood Canyon and the Hollywood Reservoir (or “Lake Hollywood,” if you prefer …). I’d imagine it has some pretty excellent views, both inside and out.

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