Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Toast to the Views

2016c-view-from-palazzo-magnani-feroniPalazzo Magnani Feroni
Borgo San Frediano, 5
50124 Firenze (FI), Italy

+39 055 2399544
info@florencepalace.it
www.florencepalace.it

As we rest in our richly frescoed room of the Palazzo Magnani Feroni, I study its long history. Oh, the stories these walls could tell us of this elegant residence, a story which began in the 15th century when it was constructed by the Serragli Family. A century later, the palace was divided into two parts which were later reconnected in 1770 when purchased by the extremely wealthy Marquis Ubaldo Feroni. The Feroni renovations included the widening and refurbishment of the courtyard and of the principal stairwell. The ground floor and first-floor apartments underwent extensive redecoration. The spacious areas of the interior of the ground floor were designed to be used as stables, carriageway and storage area for the coaches. In 1821, the Feroni heirs sold the property to the Magnani, a prestigious family who owned important silk looms and paper mills.

Palazzo Magnani Feroni has remained in the same family for over two centuries and in recent years the decision was made to transform their private residence into a luxury residence where today’s guests could experience an aristocratic slice of life in a Renaissance palace. To maintain the palace’s original style, great care was taken to preserve its architectural features while incorporating 21st century comforts. The family’s heritage is evident in the furnishings, tapestries, and portraits on display. The twelve suites are on the three floors of the palace. The staff can arrange a private dinner in your room or on the terrace, a service we took advantage of on our first night, when we enjoyed a simple feast in the privacy of our suite. The sumptuous salon with its magnificent chandelier centered over a banquet table serves as the breakfast room, where offerings are fit for a prince.

But the treasures do not end here. They are simply magnified from the palace’s rooftop terrace where the panoramic views of Florence could easily make you sing for joy in a voice that only you can hear. Hold your wine glass up to a sunset view and drink in the golden light of this Tuscan city.

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:

three-italy-book-covers_modificato-1

Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

2016c-hotel-pierre-webHotel Pierre
Via De’Lamberti 5
50123 – Firenze

Tel.+39 055 216218
www.hotel-pierre-florence.com
pierre@remarhotels.com

Tucked away on a quiet street off the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Florence is a stately palazzo converted into a hotel several decades ago. By keeping our approach to the sidewalk, we almost missed the simple yet elegant architecture and decor of its facade which welcomes guests to its warm hospitality. But the real selling point is Location, Location, Location. Within a five-minute walk of Hotel Pierre are the key sights of Florence – the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo, the Porcellino Market, making it easy to come back and forth to the comfort of your room and rest between visits.

The breakfast room is bright, its main colors of melon and dove gray seem to compliment and reflect the buildings that are visible outside its windows. One is the beautifully etched building across the street embellished in an architectural decoration technique known as sgraffiti, in which the design is scratched into the colored surface, exposing the white plaster beneath. The colors of this particular structure are a mauve-brown and white, a visually pleasing effect.

But what isn’t visually pleasing about this city? And the pleasure is in the wandering with no purpose but to enjoy its treasures. At some point, though, it is necessary for the visitor to rest from his travels, thoughts of art and cuisine stilled and bone-weary, drop into a dreamless sleep. Hotel Pierre provides each room with quiet comfort, whether for a quick siesta or a full night of restorative sleep.

And in the early morning, it is tempting to slip away from your hotel to share the deserted streets and squares with the pigeons. Hotel Pierre offers you its immediate neighborhood, beckoning you to savor its delights at leisure. Then simply wander back to your room and ready yourself for their generous breakfast buffet. You will be glad you did.

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:

three-italy-book-covers_modificato-1

Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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Towering Views

2016c-view-from-antica-torre-di-tornabuoni-1-web

Original watercolor painting of the view from Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1

Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni n.1

via Tornabuoni n.1
50122 Firenze
Tel: +39 055 2658161
info@tornabuoni1.com
www.tornabuoni1.com

The Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1 is celebrating its 15th year since opening in 2001 as one of the first residenze d’epoca or historic residences/inns of Florence. Nestled among the many old palace residences of the Strozzi neighborhood, it has been beautifully restored, occupying the fourth and fifth floors of a medieval tower with incomparable views of every landmark of the city. I believe that the Tower succeeds in more than marking an anniversary, it celebrates a way of life reminiscent of a time when life was slower-paced, more graceful, more soul-satisfying. One only has to look up from their tables in the intimate breakfast room or from one of its terraces, to know how privileged they are to be a guest in one of its twelve rooms, one of them a luxury suite.

This 13th-century palazzo was owned by the Gianfigliazzi family until the end of the 18th century. Hospitality is not new to the old tower, as it housed the Pensione Piccioli in the 20th century, a small inn that was to become a favorite stop for many famous aristocrats, writers, and artists. That atmosphere of warmth still prevails and the clientele, not surprisingly, are not merely tourists in Florence, but travelers who appreciate the elegant and sophisticated charm of its interior while savoring the care and thoughtfulness of an attentive staff.

My husband and I are certainly made to feel special as we sit quietly on our private terrace and gaze at the Arno, the Santa Trinità belltower, and to our right the dominating Duomo. As if this were not enough to satisfy us, in the evening we shift to the Torre’s terrace for an aperitif and a sweeping view that includes the Palazzo Vecchio, the Santa Trinità Bridge, the domes of Santo Spirito and San Frediano, and a patchwork of terracotta rooftops. There are other terraces and other views and oh, how spoiled we feel!

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:

three-italy-book-covers_modificato-1

Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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A Room without a View

c7The Floating Forest
168 Mount Shadforth Road
Denmark WA 6333 Australia
Email: info@thefloatingforest.com.au
www.thefloatingforest.com.au
Phone: 08 9848 2784 (+61 8 9848 2784)

For once I am going to write about a “Room without a View.” Total darkness. The view is as black and dense as a starless night sky, so black that it doesn’t matter if my eyes are open or closed. Total silence and total stillness. I am floating in a sea of complete relaxation, content, at peace. All is well.

Such was my first-time experience in a Floating Pod. Wellness begins within ourselves, and although modern medicine has the knowledge and technology to cure us of many ills, there is at times a valid reason to seek alternative, more natural therapies for the healing of mind, body, and spirit. Because I am open to new concepts and pathways to wellness, I agreed to give The Floating Forest a go. At this innovative wellness center in Western Australia, floating simply and most definitely takes one far from the stresses of modern life, easing us into a place of stillness and relaxation, caressing us into a state of well-being that lingers. And that has to be good for us.

The session begins with a shower, then after placing earplugs in my ears, I ease myself into my personal floating pod, where the body-temperature water is saturated with Epsom salts to make it highly buoyant. When I am ready, I close the lid on the pod, blocking out all light and sound. For the first few minutes gentle Zen-like music plays and I can feel myself drifting into a place of calm and sense that my heart rate and breathing are slowing down. Then total silence. At first my mind is filled with thoughts that come and go and I let them be, knowing that as in meditation, they will eventually slow down and I can simply focus on just being… The minutes drift by slowly, but the hour passes way too quickly.

Another shower and some final moments of relaxation with a cup of tea. Ahh!

On the way back home, it makes perfect sense to me to step into the dark one more time, Dark Side Chocolates that is, located at the Denmark Visitor Center. John H. Wade, the best chocolatier in Denmark, brings his wine-making skills and his passion to creating a range of chocolates that could tempt the halo off an angel. I opt for the Salted Caramel, made with the darkest of chocolate. But what about his Australian Bush Flavors? Like Roasted Wattleseed Truffle or Aniseed Myrtle Caramel? Or could you resist a chocolate called Rainforest Pearl Truffle, when described like this: West Australian grown Rainforest Pearl” finger limes made into a delicious puree and topped with a 70% dark chocolate and fresh mango puree ganache. Each truffle is dipped in white couverture and decorated with colored cocoa mass.”

Go for it!  It’s part of your wellness journey.

Dark Side Chocolates
Shop 1 Denmark Visitor Center
73 South Coast Highway
Denmark, Western Australia 6333
Mobile: 0407 984 820
john@darksidechocolates.com.au
www.darksidechocolates.com.au

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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RISING STAR WINES – Texas-Australia proud

vineyardRISING STAR WINES

Paul & Gwen Hyatt
46 Redman Road
Denmark WA 6333
Phone: 08 9848 1626
Email: info@risingstarwines.com.au

http://www.risingstarwines.com.au

Texans Paul and Gwen Hyatt feel right at home in the wide-open spaces of Western Australia. A holiday first brought them to the Denmark area, a love affair with the region kept them here. Greatly influenced by their roots in Texas and by the wings that enabled them to fly far beyond, this amiable, hard-working couple bought this premium vineyard and turned their dream into a rising star among the many fine vineyards that grace this land. Named after the town of Rising Star, Texas where Paul’s paternal grandmother was born in 1898, their 30-acre property is geographically far from their ancestral home, but not at all far from the values planted in their souls in that faraway land.

Over a decade has past since they signed on to become winemakers, and in 2009 they enjoyed the fruits of their first vintage. Denmark is perfectly suited, thanks to its cool climate, for many grape varieties: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunièr, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. One of their hallmarks is their sparkling wine, of which they are justifiably proud. Their Sparkling Chardonnay is bottle fermented in the traditional way, aged four years on yeast lees. It was a winner of a Bronze Medal at the 2015 Perth Royal Wine Show.

Ten acres are divided into vines for a House Cabernet, and in a more elevated position the remaining varietals are grown. All the wines they sell through their cellar door are exclusively estate grown by them. It would be hard to pick a favorite wine, but if I must, I have to say I love their Rosé, a light and flavorful Merlot, perfect for light dining or even a picnic.

Gwen and Paul’s passion for what they are creating simply sparkles, as does their Sparkling Chardonnay.   I raise my champagne flute to them!

Eastern & Oriental – a Malaysian Legacy

2016c The Eastern & Oriental

Eastern & Oriental Hotel
10 Lebuh Farquhar,
10200 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016 419 8238
http://www.eohotels.com
luxury@eohotels.com

 

Crossing Penang Bridge, we arrive after a long drive in George Town, Penang Island on the west coast of the Malaysian Peninsula. In 1786, during its occupation by the British East India Company, it was named Prince of Wales Island, and subsequently George Town after the reigning King George III. In 2008, George Town was formally included in UNESCO, recognized for its unique architectural and cultural heritage. Situated on the longest stretch of waterfront on the island, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 130 years. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869 and steamship travel began to flourish, travelers looked to the East to satisfy their lust for the exotic. Answering the demands of these new adventurers, the Armenian Sarkies brothers established first the Eastern Hotel in 1884, and then the Oriental in 1885. When combined, the two hotels became the largest and most sought-after accommodations on the island. Throughout the decades, the brothers continued to enlarge and improve their hotel and their services, maintaining the E&O’s elevated place in the history of the city.

Arriving at the Eastern & Oriental is like stepping into a bygone era in terms of elegance and into a dream in terms of its jewel-like setting, positioned as it is along the seafront. We arrive just in time to savor a complimentary aperitif in the elegant yet relaxed atmosphere of Planter’s Lounge. The décor is reminiscent of its British Colonial past and the savoury snacks are a blend of Eastern and Continental cuisines. The Lounge is in the Victory Annexe, the new extension built in 2013 on the site of its 1923 namesake – named after the British Victory in World War I. This new 15-story addition houses 122 suites, all facing the sea, each decorated in grand style. On the same floor is the rooftop swimming pool where the waters lead the eye directly to the waters of Andaman Sea, an infinity of blue. Sea and sky for as far as the eye can see. It would be hard to choose between this pool and the pool that graces the lush gardens between the hotel and the sea, offering a veritable oasis.

For a stroll through history, one needs only to meander through these gardens or the historic corridor to the 1885 Heritage Wing, where Moorish minarets and a lofty domed lobby speak of times past. Each of the 100 graceful suites are unique in design and include all the updated comforts of a first-class hotel, while still retaining their original colonial charm – including butler service!  Dining options abound from the 1885 Restaurant offering classical cuisine in a rich colonial setting, to casual far served on the terrace. We enjoy dinner at Sarkies, where an abundant local and international cuisine is offered buffet-style.

From the cool comfort of our room on this scorching afternoon, we have a panoramic view of the sea. Later from our balcony we watch the setting sun as it gilds the water with a dusting of Malaysian gold. Simply dazzling. Tomorrow we will explore the many treasures of this island town, but tonight we will do nothing but enjoy our surroundings.

 

Read more about my books featuring this and other lovely restaurants and hotels, Rooms with a View and Italian Wanderlust, by clicking on their covers:

Rooms cover      italian wanderlust 2

More about my other books.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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LaZat – a flavorful cooking class in Malaysia

a2LaZat Malaysian Cooking School
Malay House at Penchala Hills
Lot 3196, Jalan Seri Penchala
Kampong Sg. Penchala
60000 Kuala Lumpur
+6 019 238 1198
www.malaysia-klcookingclass.

Ana 2

Ana

La Zat Cooking School is located on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, in a tranquil country setting overlooking the lush Penchala Hills. The rustic 150-year old house, transferred from Melacca, is typical of a Nyonya Malay house, of wood construction joined by dowels, thus allowing it to be moved. The kitchen where our class is held, is open and overlooks a garden that offers a beautiful view and a fragrant profusion of herbs, many to be picked and used in the local dishes we are about to prepare.

 

 

cooks 1_modificato-1

Malaysian cuisine is a rich fusion of the culinary heritage of the cultures that have intersected here: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian and many other Ethnic groups. This is unfamiliar territory for me, so I am pleased to be introduced to the cuisine in such a welcoming, relaxed way by Ana, the owner, and Loty, her assistant who will be teaching us today. Malaysians are known for their warm and friendly natures and these ladies are exemplary hostesses and teachers. To ease our transportation concerns, Ana arranged for a driver to bring us to the school and take us back to our hotel afterwards.

Our Malay Classic menu today: Kuih Cara Berlauk (savory meat-filled pastries), Nasi Lemak (rice in coconut milk), Sambal Udang (prawns in sambal sauce), and Sago Gula Melaka (sago pudding with palm sugar syrup). It would be easy enough for the class to be simply a demonstration with the overhead mirrors reflecting every step of the process, but this is a hands-on class with individual cooking stations. We don our aprons and begin. Because the pudding must set, we begin with the dessert. Sago, an ingredient I have never met before, is extracted from the starchy, spongy center of various tropical palm stems and looks like tiny white beads. These are rinsed, then placed in water brought to a boil, to be stirred regularly for 15 minutes. Then they are drained and rinsed in cold water to discard the starch. Because we are going to eat this dessert chilled on this steamy hot day, the pudding is placed in the refrigerator while we make the palm sugar syrup and the rest of the meal.

food 2Regarded as the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is on our menu and I am delighted to prepare and then taste what is such a staple dish in this part of the world. Loty and her assistants ease our way by thoughtfully setting up the necessary ingredients for each recipe on a tray so that our attention and time can be focused on the job at hand. To go with the rice cooked in coconut milk, we prepare the prawns and Sambal, a chili paste mixed with shallots and garlic. I go easy on the chili. We learn to use a mortar and pestle for grinding and a wok for frying. We are introduced to Lemon Grass and Pandan Leaves, both must-have ingredients and hence grown in most kitchen gardens throughout the country.

When our work is done, we sit together at a long table and spend time with Ana, whose delightful company adds flavor to our experience and as much sweetness as the palm sugar syrup that we have so generously ladled onto our pudding.

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All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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