The 8th Wonder of the World!

As you saw in my previous post, San Gimignano is a pretty unique place. A complete fossilized city in the middle of nowhere. One of the most intriguing things about the city is their delicious food!

Evelina Galli in Tuscany

I found a restaurant that Tripadvisor gave more than 1200 reviews. It was located in a non-descript alley, with an unmarked door.

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A little curious fact is that the restaurant was  right next to the Museum la Tortura.

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(As you may have guessed, “Museum la Tortura” means “Museum of Torture.” Because my hands were shaking when taking the photo, you may notice the skeleton in the cage.)

The restaurant that I was looking for was called Cum Quibus. The sign said they will open at 7:30 pm.  And just in case someone wanted to open the door to peek in, it had curtains in front of it: a complete mystery.

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It was only 3 o’clock and I had to eat something. Some American tourist suggested Cafe Stella, and I thought, well maybe something light will help me survive to 7:30 pm. Of course I ended up eating a 3 course meal (dessert included) since this was the absolute best food I have had in Italy so far! Caffe Stella was not even close to Cum Quibus’ ratings on TripAdvisor, so my desire to go there was hightened 10 fold!

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At 7:25 I went back to Cum Quibus and waited another five minutes under the pouring rain, for the doors to open. The restaurant was booked completely but somehow they managed to find an extra table. The place had a really cool rustic Tuscan vibe and was very small.

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Food started coming in and despite the more casual presentation it had the most surprising, bold flavor combinations that were extremely artistic.

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Then some of the loyal patrons started coming and congratulating Lorenzo, the restaurant’s young owner that TripAdvisor just announced Cum Quibus as the 8th BEST Restaurant in the WORLD! 

That was unbelievable! 8th restaurant in the WORLD in the middle of nowhere?! How is it possible?

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Cheers for Cum Quibus from Instagram

But it made me think of an Armenian proverb that says “a polished diamond won’t sit on the floor for too long”.

Regardless of where you are and how small you are, if you’ll do a good job, it won’t be unnoticed.

That was the beautiful lesson from old San Gimignano and wounderful Cum Quibus.

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Lost and Found in Tuscan Hills

People don’t normally like the feeling of being lost, me included. It is the uncertainty, the loss of control, disorientation, frustration, anger, denial, and the list can go on.

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But if we have time and we can move past the initial sense of anxiety, being lost can be an opportunity to see new places, to discover new things, to become an explorer…almost like Columbus.

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I was not quite in the philosophical mood when I got lost on the way from Florence to Sienna. Rain and feeling hungry did not help the situation. But pretty soon a structure that resembled old city walls appeared, as well as promising signs of Trattorias and Pizzerias nearby. The medieval city structure was so impressive that for a little while I forgot I was hungry. Rain almost became a drizzle and my iPhone finally got an Internet signal showing that my location was at San Gimignano.

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Since I had never heard of this city, I wanted to get inside and see what was happening inside the city walls.

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Especially after seeing that TriplAdvisor.com recommended an amazing restaurant there, which had more then 1200 reviews on it, all being fantastic and fabulous!

Inside the city walls the cutest medieval city was hiding! Coming from LA it almost felt like a movie set. But of course it is as real as it gets!

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With the 14 towers that were leftover from the previously built 72 (the highest one 54 meters!), it was an architectural gem that I was feeling so blessed to see.

I will tale more about this fascinating city but I wonder if you can guess why people will build these labor-intensive tall towers in the 14-century, 72 of them and one higher than the other?

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Styling à la Florentine

When you enter a city trough the medieval gigantic doors, you know it is a special place.

Firenze (Florence)  is an epitome of the Italian Renaissance where even the hotels are built with the Renaissance in mind.

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When the hotel room has a Renaissance themed frescoes on the walls, it must be Florence!

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Florence has a very distinct style.

It is an open air museum that would take a visitor a few months to experience and appreciate all the gems that this city has to offer.

One of the least touristy places is the Medicis’ villa. There are so many primary spots that I think the Medicis’ villa hardly gets any traffic.

It is a unique feeling to experience such historical locations in a Zen atmosphere.

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In this Zen environment, I have stumbled upon the most beautiful movie theater ever!IMG_1998

Doesn’t it just look fascinating?

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It just needs a popcorn and a soda machine!

Talk about Form NOT Following the FUNCTION!

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And if the movie is boring, one can always look up to the “sky” for more action!

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What do you think? Would you like a home theater à la Florentine ?

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Fashion Recycling!

It’s always interesting to watch how fashion recycles itself. This year can be heralded as the Rudi Generic’s year. His design interpretations appear in companies from Louis Vuitton, Agent Provocateur to Nasty Gal…high and low everyone wants Rudi Generic’s masterpiece!

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Rudi was a creator extraordinaire having pioneered such pieces as monkini…topless swimsuit, no bra bra…color blocking ..chain dresses…sailor dresses…he was “the most way-out far ahead of his time designer in the US” as Time magazine described  him in their 1967 issue.

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I feel so proud ..I won the Rudi Generic award for one of my swimsuit designs back in college :)

He is a genius. He was actually one of the first ones to shoot a fashion video and to collaborate!…Majority of his work is done with Peggy Moffitt  (his muse model and collaborator) and William Claxton as the Photographer  …

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Let’s Plan a Vacation!

Have you ever had the experience of flying across the globe to some beautiful resort at the ocean, then spending 2 days trying to get used to the time difference?

… Next 3 days trying to plan when to go to the beach and visit the city ?… Then ending up  lounging at the pool all day and coming back without ever making it to the beach or to the city…

Have you ever had that experience?Evelina Galli

Happened to me and was very frustrating, considering all the packing frenzy and airport security…especially the part when they ask you to take off the shoes?!…extreme germophobes would understand me !

If it is a familiar scenario, but I figured out a perfect solution!…Find some amazing place within an hour from you, drive there and have an extended weekend getaway lounging at the pool!

Pelican Hills

My favorite is the fabulous  Pelican Hills Resort located just an hour away at the Pacific Ocean.

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With an amazingly breathtaking view and fantastic hospitality that makes you never want to leave.Pelican Hills

For women, they have an  incredible SPA menu, for men –best golf course in California (named by Conde Nast Travel Magazine)

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..and for kids a day camp!…Whats not to like?

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What clothes to pack? …Swimsuits, loungewear and a cocktail dress, or blazer for men. Make it simple and just enjoy! No long flights and no germophobia!

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Do you have a favorite getaway destination?

Happiness is closer then we think…

“Pain and Pleasure occur only in consciousness and exist only there.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Evelina Galli

Being back with the students over the week end made me think about the science of creativity and happiness, and how they are interrelated.

One of my absolute favorite authors of all time is Mr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (…I know very hard to read and pronounce last name, but he is a modern-day genius) all his life researched and crystallized the science of living happier and more creative lives.

Mr. Csikszentmihalyi is a world renown expert in creativity and happiness as well as a philosopher and a scientist, whose studies of the “FLOW” process were used everywhere from developing corporate leadership to programming new computer games.

At one point I bought several copies of his book “The Flow” and was handing them out to my closest friends. It is an amazing eye opener book!

Here I would bring some of my favorite quotes from him:

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 “We are always getting to live, as Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say, but never living. Or as poor Frances learned in the children’s story, it is always bread and jam tomorrow, never bread and jam today.”

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“Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason.”

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“The names we use to describe personality traits – such as extrovert, high achiever, or paranoid – refer to the specific patterns people have used to structure their attention. At the same party, the extrovert will seek out and enjoy interactions with others, the high achiever will look for useful business contacts, and the paranoid will be on guard for signs of danger he must avoid. Attention can be invested in innumerable ways, ways that can make life either rich or miserable.”

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“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.”

Hope you will give his books a try, especially the “Flow.” It can hold the key for your happiness :)

Always yours,

E.

R rated – Content only for over 21!

…We are not going to talk about porn today …just alcohol :)…and to be more precise:  WHISK(E)Y !

The show Mad Men revived the interest for the mid-century lifestyle. Among other trends, the famous TV show inspired a renewed interest for whiskey.

I was always fascinated with whiskey, along with wine and brandy, some types of uisge beatha (water of life) are very aromatic and complex.

In the 90′s Dot.com era, the coolest place to work was considered the one that had a Ping-Pong table and a skateboard cave. Now for young professionals, a  “dream place to work” is considered an office with a wet bar, a silver tray and crystal glasses. (Google and Facebook Headquarters should take a note.)

The reason it is better to drink while at work is that whiskey does not severely impact cognitive abilities; versus lets say Tequila or vodka! …For that reason, it is Vladimir Putin’s favorite drink and has become uber-popular in Russia.

There are some misconceptions though about whiskey.

#1 It is a man’s drink…

Being a firefighter might only be for men, but whiskey…no…women can handle it perfectly :)

#2  It is good on the rocks…

It looks good on the rocks!.. but a good complex whiskey would lose its aroma with the ice. The only additive should be a few drops of water; preferably bottled spring water from Scotland.

I am curious, would you vote for being able to have a glass of scotch at work?

Evelina Galli

Your inner SuperHERO!

Recently, I was at an event where to” break the ice” and introduce yourself you needed to name your Fantasy Inner Superhero and explain why you chose that person…

My first impulse was to choose Trinity from Matrix, Catwoman or Lara Croft…and the reason?..Their costumes of course!

…but on second thought: I have realized that Matrix is so 1999 with very minimalist fashion!…actually all 3 of them are!..It is 2013. We NEED more color! 

So I had to draw a new 2013 Inner Superhero! (Added bonus:have full creative control and can change it  at any time :)

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Do you have an Inner Superhero?

Last Pharaohs’ Secret

History has plenty of lessons that we can learn from and use in our daily life. One of them comes from the Cleopatra bath.

After getting plenty of vitamin D under the sun, the only thing left to do is to take a nice, long bath to restore the moisture to skin.

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Tom Ford said in one of his recent interviews that he takes up to 5 baths a day. He added that it is the best way to cope with stress…I trust him! With 5 baths a day! What stress?

…Well, in my daily life there is hardly enough time for one long bath, so I am always trying to find ways to “maximize the benefits” of that bath! …

One of the ways is to indulge in the “Cleopatra Bath.” This is a heavenly combination of milk and honey that is perfect for moisturizing the skin.

Famous pharaohs’ recipe is: 1 gallon of milk and a cup of honey added to the bath.

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I just add sunglasses to protect my eyes from bright light and tons and tons of bubbles!

Wish you a good bath as well!

Evelina GalliXOXO

E.