Italy has a special place in my heart. I studied Italian in college and attended an Italian university in Siena my sophomore year. I’m sending my son to an Italian immersion preschool. And it has long been my dream to take my entire family there to help them better understand my obsession (I have no Italian heritage to speak of – I think I just must have been Italian in a former life). My dream finally came true this summer with a nearly four week trip that took us to Puglia – a dream destination – and also took me back to Rome, a city imprinted on my soul even though I hadn’t visited in 20 years.

Rome has changed in a myriad of ways, but also remains the Eternal City. Large, noisy, hot and potentially overwhelming, Rome is also just…magic. You just have to know how to break through the crowds to discover the city’s heart and soul. Keep scrolling for my best tips on how to take an Apartment 34 approach to Rome (read great design and delicious food!).

TIP 1: Find a Home Away From Home

They say that Rome has turned into the land of vacation rentals and while this causes many a problem for the Romans who still attempt to call the city home, it offers you a plethora of wonderful places to stay. Traveling with a pres-schooler meant I wanted an apartment with at least two bedrooms, a terrace to enjoy adult time in the evenings, a good kitchen for easy cooking and a convenient location to return to for afternoon naps. Enter onefinestay.

Onefinestay prides themselves on offering private homes with unique features and design-forward style that help you feel like a local, even if only for a week. You’re greeted at your rental by a onefinestay staffer who helps walk you through the house – already stocked with initial provisions – pasta, coffee, sauce, vino – all you really need to survive in Rome. It makes the arrival process so smooth.

We stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood – once a hotbed of artists, traditional Roman eateries and coffee bars –  it has now become a bit of tourist haven, yet the neighborhood still features a raucous night life, plenty of delicious food and a lovely location next to the Tiber river. It was a nice jumping off point to explore and I would gladly return. And onefinestay is now going to be my go-to for international travel!

TIP 2: Stick to One Iconic Sight Per Day

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

Visiting Rome’s major tourist attractions have certainly changed since I last visited. But of course the iPhone had yet to be invented! These days most ancient attractions have massive security checks, timed tickets you need to purchase in advance and still plenty of long lines. But if you’re strategic you can take in all the ancient sights – even with a four-year old in tow – and everyone can have fun. You just have to plan in advance.

Start out at the official website of what you want to visit – for example, the Colosseum. You can purchase skip the line tickets for 19 euros. Not too bad. Children under six are free, but take note – they still need a pass to enter (which is another line). Even with skip the line tickets you still have to go through security and at places like the Vatican and Colosseum can have waits of an hour (or more!). You can also purchase combined tickets for things like the Coloseum, the Forum and the Vatican Museums but I don’t recommend those for smaller children. They can be overwhelming and extremely crowded.

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

The earlier you head out in the morning the shorter the lines. Make sure you pack water, snacks for the littles (Italian breakfast cookies proved a strong motivator), fans and wear hats if you’re visiting during summer’s peak heat. You’re often standing in direct sun. After an hour or two ooohhing and ahhhing over the world’s antiquities each day, we’d be ready for a long leisurely lunch (keep scrolling for food recommendations), a gelato and a good afternoon nap in blessed air conditioning.

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

We also bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus for one day – you know those obnoxious double decker tourist buses. But in a city already obnoxiously teeming with tourists, you might as well see it from a leisurely seat that also offers historic commentary while you ride. It’s a great way to help you get your bearings without have to drag your kids from one corner of the city to the other. Tickets can be purchased in advance (you’ll bet the best deals this way) or right on the bus.

TIP 3: Enjoy that Piazza Life

Piazzas are the center of Italian culture. Every neighborhood has their own square, sometimes multiple, where everyone gathers – be it in the morning for the farmer’s market in Campo di Fiori, or to hang out around the fountains in the afternoons, or watch street performers as the night begins. Most often car-free they are designed for socializing. The piazza is where you can go for a Spritz, where you wander during the evening passeggiata (the daily evening walk around 7pm) or hang out late into the night – Piazza Navona (seen above) is one of the many wonderful options. Yes, you’ll be surrounded by tourists but also locals. No one is on their phones. Everyone is enjoying themselves and the piazzas are spectacular (and free, without security or lines!).

TIP 4: Wander Aimlessly and See What You Discover

Rome is simply a sight to behold. Its architecture, obviously, its ancient monuments and treasures, but also its grit, its rough edges, its living, breathing underbelly is just as interesting. This is a city to get lost in. Sadly, less easy to do with a four year old, but we still tried to stroll and simply discover whenever we could. Monti is the next neighborhood I want to explore when we go back (someday!).

TIP 5: Get on Italian Time

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

The Italians know how to live my friends. Their pace of life is slower. More deliberate. More intentional. They appreciate delayed gratification. If the good mozzarella doesn’t come in until Thursday, you don’t get the caprese salad until Thursday! Traditions and beliefs are deeply rooted and time honored. So why fight them? Ditch your American expectations of lightening fast service, 24/7 availability and a go-go-go pace. Wake up a little later and enjoy a cappuccino and a sweet pastry standing at the local coffee bar (no one sits fyi). Enjoy a multi-course lunch with wine – but not until 1pm or later. No one eats lunch before then. Plan to take a siesta in the afternoon – many shops are closed from 2pm to 5pm. Dinner doesn’t begin before 8pm. That offers ample time for the passeggiata, an aperitivo, and a Spritz before dinner.

We fully embraced this lifestyle and it worked wonderfully for our family. Our son often slept in until 9am everyday, would take 2-3hour afternoon naps and then had an average bedtime of 11pm! We had zero meltdowns, only a few tough moments. It felt bizarre and wonderful. We all got to enjoy Italy the way Italians enjoy it.

TIP 6: Don’t Expect Young Kids to Walk

I wasn’t too keen about hauling a stroller all around Italy but had heard from many a friend that a four year old would not do well hiking around Rome. I got away with it in Puglia as villages were relatively small and we often drove from place to place. But thankfully I found the ultimate fix – Travel Baby. The site rents strollers in major cities and was my savior.

Upon arrival at our onefinestay, a Babyzen YOYO stroller was already awaiting us. Sometimes we went without it. Short walks to restaurants or evenings that had substantially cooled. But it went with us more places than not. While I may have gotten some weird looks pushing my rather oversized preschooler down Rome’s cobblestone streets (the stroller held up very well btw), it saved us in the intense heat, in long lines and late at night. Couldn’t recommend this service enough.

TIP 7: Be Picky About Where You Eat

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

It’s possible to eat extremely well in Rome, but it’s not exactly easy. The city is filled to the brim with restaurants, trattorias, coffee bars and gelaterias but not all are made equal. Many are tourists traps selling quick food with cheap ingredients that are….mediocre. But you’re in Italy! There is no excuse to eat bad food. You simply need to know how to hunt out the special stuff.

The first trick? Look for restaurants without sidewalk seating. While there’s a rare exception to the rule – don’t worry I have a list below, you can keep scrolling – most truly good Roman restaurants are tucked-away holes-in-the-wall that you would never know where there unless you knew where to look. I think they kinda like it that way. That’s where you’ll find truly authentic Roman dishes – the best cacio e pepe, the best pizza or the most amazing amatriciana.

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

The second trick is to get off the beaten path. It’s fairly obvious, but bears repeating that you are not going to find good food around the tourists attractions. They just want over heated, hungry customers and they’ll even approach you on the street to try to get you to sit down. Keep walking. The extra few hundred steps is worth the effort and gives you the additional calorie burn you want for your daily scoop (or two!) of gelato. It’s down the lesser known streets and little alleys where some of the best restaurants reside.

How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34 How to Survive Rome in Peak Summer on apartment 34

TIP 8: Don’t Eat the Poofy Gelato

Friends, I know it’s tempting. Those picture-perfect, brightly colored mountains of gelato seem to call to you from every corner of Rome, but you must resist. That gelato is usually made with a mix, filled with artificial ingredients, colors and preservatives. Sure, it’ll taste ok, but you’re missing out on the true gelato experience. You want to look for gelato served straight out of round metal canisters. You have to look down into them to see what the flavors look like. No – the display isn’t spectacular, but that’s where you’ll find the traditionally made gelato that only uses real foods and fresh ingredients. And you’l find amazing out of the box flavor combinations like gorgonzola with hazelnuts!

So there you have it. My quick survival guide to Rome. I can still hardly believe I was wandering its streets, my son dunking his head in the public drinking fountains that pump crystal clear waters up from the ancient aqueducts, eating gelato two times a day and fantasizing that we would stay forever.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten many a tip so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!

Next up – Puglia…but there is so much to see and do there..that one might have to be a 10 part series.

How I packed for my four weeks of travel in a carry-on is right here.

My Top 10 Roman Restaurants
(this is only a small sampling – I bookmarked over 40 spots. You should also note you need reservations at most restaurants in Rome so be sure to plan your meals ahead of time!)

Trattoria Da Enzo in Trastevere for dinner

Otaleg Gelato in Trastevere – the best gelato!

Osteria La Gensola 

Caffe Propoganda in Monti for lunch

Salotto 42 for an evening aperitivo 

Il Sorpasso near Vatican City

Ristorante Fiammetta for pizza 

Trattoria al Moro – our most authentic meal – filled with Italian businessmen in suits for lunch!

Pianostrada – our best meal in Rome

Fatamorgana Gelato – a small chain with multiple locations serving artisan gelato with spectacular flavors

If it feels like I’ve been a little MIA of late, there’s quite a good reason. One week from today I will be stepping on a plane departing for Italy – for an entire MONTH!

the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34

I know, it sounds insane. It feels insane. But it is happening. I’m packing the whole family, yes the four-year-old included, to have what I hope turns out to be the experience of a lifetime. I’ve been putting hours and hours into putting this summer vacation together, finding exceptional accommodations, planning itineraries, sleuthing the best local restaurants, getting an entire family packing down to a science (I’m attempting only one carry-on per person for four weeks of travel!) and now I’m just crossing my fingers that it all pays off.

the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34  the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34 the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34

We first head to Puglia. I’ve had a long obsession with this part of Italy (as documented here, and here). Nestled down in the heel of the boot, Puglia still feels slightly untouched and certainly very different from Tuscany, Venice or the more stereotypical Italian landscapes you typically see.

Dominated by Masseria (walled homes that were often former farms) and Truli-style homes, whitewashed towns like Ostuni and Lecce and stunning cliff-side beaches Puglia promises to be a magical place to both explore and relax. I can’t wait to taste the world-class olive oil, shop the famous ceramics and spend a good amount of time with an Aperol Spritz next to a pool. Don’t hate me too much.

While my focus is primarily on Puglia for this experience, we are also going to spend a week pretending we live in Rome and I could not be more excited.

the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34

While there are so many sights to see in Rome, I actually have little interest in playing tourist. I’m lucky enough to have had that experience years ago. My biggest goal is to simply try to experience the city as Romans do. With a child in tow, I suspect that will include a lot of cacio e pepe and gelato. But I’m hoping to get lost down little traveled alleys, stumble upon some parks, and spend copious hours people watching, a glass of vino in hand.

the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34the Ultimate Summer Vacation on apartment 34

So I hope you don’t mind a lot of travel content coming your way. I’ve been documenting my planning process, I plan to share tours of each of our rentals, I’m writing down all of my packing tips, all the things. Is there anything else you would like to know about this trip??

And of course, I would love your help too. If you’ve been to Puglia or to Rome recently I would be forever grateful for your insider tips. There’s nothing better than a good recommendation from someone who was just there. This will also be my first attempt at international travel with my kiddo and I won’t lie, I’m a touch scared – especially for the 12-hour flight. I will take any and all magic tricks to survive an overnight flight with a preschooler.

Italia here we come!

images via the style bungalow, masseria san giovanni and petite suitcase

They say that travel cures your wanderlust. Not for me! Once I start traveling, I don’t to stop. Case in point; though I’m currently soaking up all the sun and surf I can get in Maui (more on Stories if you want deet on my trip), I now desperately want to book my next trip to Portugal. It’s actually been on my travel wishlist for quite some time now, but after my fave roving reporter Megan McCarty returned with rave reviews and stunning photos, now I’m really read to hop another plane. Maybe Thanksgiving in Portugal would be nice! I’m not a huge turkey fan anyway. Anywho, keep reading to discover the place to stay in Lisbon.

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

Seems like everyone is going to Portugal these days.

And for good reason. The wine is cheap, the beaches are wow-worthy and don’t even get me started on the pastel de nata.

Despite Portugal, and capital city Lisbon in particular, being the locale du jour lately, there’s still a welcome grit to the country. Old women leer from above, their elbows hanging out of their second, third, fourth story apartments – the original neighborhood watch committee. Laundry, strung from windows, waves in the wind. The hills are steep and the cobblestone streets are not for the faint-of-rolling-an-ankle.

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

To feel like a local in the beautiful, buzzing city, book a stay at Baixa House. It’s not quite a hotel, but not an Airbnb either. It’s more than a bed and breakfast and definitely more than enough to convince you to pack up your life and live in Lisbon forever.

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

So what is it? Baixa House is a block of 13 full-service apartment rentals in the center of Lisbon’s historic Baixa (downtown) district, tucked between the Alfama and Chiado neighborhoods. It’s a home far, far away from home – a home in which someone else makes your bed. A full kitchen? Check. Laundry? Yep. Daily cleanings? The best. Fresh bread is hung on your apartment door each morning, while the fridge is stocked daily with breakfast goodies such as fresh squeezed juice, cheese, butter, yogurt and jam.

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

Like most things in life, it’s all about the details: fresh cut flowers brightening each room, fado music in the stereo system, a kitchen stocked with all the essentials. The gracious and knowledgeable staff go so above and way beyond to make you feel at home too. It feels like you’re visiting a friend’s place, a friend who has a beautiful, sun-soaked apartment and who is happy to call that restaurant you’re considering and who sneaks in during the day to wash your dishes. They know hospitality at Baixa House, which begins before you even arrive, with key tips on how to get a cab from the airport. (Note: nab one at the arrivals entrance, not the departures exit. There’s no line and the drivers tend to be more friendly.) Or if you’re arriving by car, Baixa House will advise you on the closest and most secure parking spots.

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34 You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

So what’s the story behind this wonderful place, so unassuming with no signage, no lobby? Take it back to the 18th century; the five-story Pombalino building was constructed in 1775 after an earthquake devastated much of Lisbon. What is now Baixa House is owned by landscape architect Jesus Moraime, who carefully restored the building to conserve as much history as possible. You’ll see this from floor (wide, wooden planks) to ceiling (beautiful original beams) and everything in between (doors, windows, tiles).

You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34You Gotta Stay Here: Baixa House in Lisbon, Portugal on apartment 34

Each unit is named after a garden in the city, and includes a photograph of the garden by Moraime, while the decor is so distinctly Portuguese, since Moraime spent years scouring area flea markets for furnishings that were just right. And they are just right, from the vintage furniture to custom rugs and green cabbage crockery, all locally sourced. It feels like home. Well done, Baixa House. You’re a beauty.

What a place, what a city, what a country. Now, when can I move in?

For all of Megan’s adventures, CLICK HERE.


photography c/o Baxia House and by megan mccarty

Today we have a travel installment from our sometimes roving reporter, sometimes relationship expert, always amazing contributor Megan McCarty. She recently took a trip to Phoenix – not a spot on the tippy top of my wanderlust wishlist, but her stay is giving me desert wishes and pool-day dreams. As we wave so long to summer, I’m going to take this guide and pack it away for safe keeping! I highly recommend you do too.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Phoenix, admittedly, was never very high on my Must Visit list. I figured I’d get there someday, probably in the dismal winter months when I’m willing to hop on a plane just to see the sun again. Well, someday came, right as my vitamin D levels were dropping dangerously low, and I’m so glad it did.

What I knew of Phoenix – the heat, the snowbirds, the golf – and what I now know of Phoenix – the design, food and art scene – combine to make for a perfect quick trip for the style-minded. (You, me.) So pack your swimsuit, wide-brimmed hat and not much else for a fall/winter/spring getaway of any kind.

Summertime? Forget about it. Leave desert summers to the professionals.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Hotel Valley Ho
…is about as historic as buildings in the western end of the new world get. Its mid-century art deco decor gives off a Palms Springs vibe – minus the pretension. The suite I stayed in featured a full kitchen, a balcony with mountains views and a bathroom that was bigger than apartments I’ve lived in. No Arizona stay is complete without lounging by a pool, and Hotel Valley Ho has two pools for two moods: the quiet and relaxing one and the not-so-quiet one with a bar and DJ. Your choice.

The Camby
If glitz and glam is more your hotel speed, stay at The Camby, located near the hubbub of downtown Phoenix. It’s cheeky art, sleek furniture and jewel tones add an air of elegance without taking itself too seriously. Be sure to look up, down and all around – the art is everywhere, including on the ceiling of your room. A rooftop pool doesn’t hurt the cool factor either.

Mountain Shadows
Can we talk about that pool view? What else is there to say? Oh, I suppose something about how Mountain Shadows, originally built at the foot of Camelback Mountain in 1959 and then rebuilt to all its modern glory in 2017, is a sleek, modern retreat. The neighboring mountains make for a shield against the rest of the world – the to dos, the emails, the anything that isn’t that pool – but a quick 10-minute drive will put you back into the buzz of the city.

At first glance, Agritopia is a modern-day, environmentally conscious version of Pleasantville, a tight-knit community with an urban garden at the center of it all. At second glance, it’s still that, but so much more. Built in Gilbert, a half-hour drive outside of Phoenix, Agritopia is a planned community surrounding 11 acres of urban farmland, with Barnone – a one-stop shop with a brewery, letterpress shop, florist, you name it – at the heart of the neighborhood. My favorite stop was Garage-East, where we indulged in a wine tasting and gossip session with an amiable bartender over various Arizona vinos and a charcuterie board. If possible, take home a few cans of Garage-East’s Breakfast Wine, a delightful house-made concoction of wine white mixed with seasonal juices.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Desert Botanical Gardens
I somehow end up at botanical gardens in nearly every city I visit, and this one tops the list. Weave in and out of the 140 acres of cacti to get a sense of what survives and thrives in desperate desert conditions. The textures, the colors, the height and volume – it’s all glorious. Feeling small next to nature is one of life’s greatest kick-in-the-ass, and Desert Botanical Garden gave me that feeling on a whole new level. Go.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Taliesin West
I could talk about Frank Lloyd Wright all day – did you know his son invented Lincoln Logs? – and visiting Taliesin West, Frank’s winter home (the warm-weather counterpart to his home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin) and the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin, hasn’t done me any favors. Now I’ll never shut up about Frank! There’s a hushness at Taliesin West, knowing big, bold things have happened there, as if you don’t want to tempt the fates by speaking a titch too loud. Though rumor has it old Hollywood greats spoke a titch too loud at Taliesin West, during wild parties Frank hosted. The compress and release from one room to the next feel like little Frank hugs. See, he’s not the strict, rigid Old Man Architecture you thought he was.

Start your day right at the Phoenix Public Market, where they host an open air market every Saturday and healthy, farmer-sourced fare inside the rest of the week. Plot your day over a cup of coffee, veggie-packed quinoa bowl and a house-made Pop-Tart, for good sugary measure, like I did. You could also satiate your coffee need at Press Coffee Roasters or Cartel Coffee Lab, both cool, caffeinated spots with locations throughout the Phoenix area.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

The Henry has a little bit of everything. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Coffee shop, seated restaurant and event space. It’s where you’d want to shoot off emails early morning, grab lunch mid-afternoon and belly up to the bar come happy hour. Its industrial components are brought down to earth with dad’s chic office decor. Think textured walls, horse paintings and a lush mix of hunter green and navy blue.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

What happens when a chef, an artist and a restauranteur join forces? Taco Chelo, that’s what. In the cool arts district of downtown Phoenix, chef Suny Santana, artist Gennaro Garcia and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin recently opened the taqueria that gives equal attention to the menu as it does the interior design, making for the ultimate eating experience. (Especially when you add a margarita to the mix.)

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Life motto: if Oprah loves it, I love it. And if Rachael Ray, Andrew Zimmern, Bon Appetit and Vogue all love Pizzeria Bianco too, even better. Getting a table at the tiny 42-seat restaurant may require some patience, but it’s worth the wait. While there stroll around Heritage Square, the oldest remaining residential block in Phoenix.

escape to phoenix on apartment 34

Hey Postino, how about adding 100 more locations across the U.S., eh? I’ve been thinking about their cozy patio and bruschettas ever since visiting. High fives to the Highland location for their wall of matchbooks (love), engaging server and letting me laugh a little too loud on the patio. I’ll be back ASAP.

And did you catch that Apartment 34 has been nominated for a Domino Magazine 2018 Design Blog Award – for best Lifestyle Blog! To say I was thoroughly shocked by this news is quite the understatement. It’s kinda like a Christmas, birthday and 10-year blog anniversary present all rolled into one.

But the final winner of each category is up to you. All winners will be determined by popular vote. You can vote for your favorites one time per day from NOW through Sunday, September 23. After the people have spoken, the 2018 class will be celebrated at a party at Hotel Zachary in Chicago, courtesy of the sponsor of the award, Tribute Portfolio Hotels, and each winner will receive a feature profile on Domino. No biggie.


For more city guides, CLICK HERE.

For the last Wednesday before summer’s (unofficial) conclusion, I thought I’d bring back the spot that sits on the tippy top of my travel wish list: Puglia. Tucked on the heel of Italy’s boot, this area combines the best of both worlds – all things Italian with beach life! I’m so enamored with this amazing destination that I’m officially planning a trip to Puglia – for the whole family – so if you’ve been or have tips, share them with me, I beg of you! For now, drool over this amazing space – that you can actually call home for a week or two.

You may think that once August concludes, travel season is basically over, but I beg to differ. September is actually a perfect time to make a European escape. The crowds have dwindled, the temperatures have cooled. In Europe, most locals are back from their vacations which means more authentic rather than tourist soaked cultural flavor. Plus, who doesn’t want to extend summer just a touch longer. Especially it it means that you could go stay in this gorgeous Italian home for a week.

An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34stunning home in puglia on apartment 34

This home takes vacation rental to the next level. Called Angiulli Piccolo, the building is a restored 18th Century Masseria – an ancient fortified farmhouses found only in the Italian state of Puglia. The complex sits among olive groves and prickly pear cactus with views of vineyards stretching toward the horizon. While the northern parts of Italy have typically gotten all the attention, in Puglia you can enjoy rustic Italian charm along with 500 miles of coastline. Apparently Meryl Streep now owns a house here and JT married Jessica Biel here in 2010. If it’s good enough for Justin, then it’s good enough for me.

stunning home in puglia on apartment 34stunning home in puglia on apartment 34stunning home in puglia on apartment 34

But back to this gorgeous house. The architecture alone – limestone floors and cathedral ceilings are a wow factor. It’s been opened up with french doors and transoms to offer gorgeous natural light and views of the stunning surroundings. The furnishings on the other hand are understated and sparse. Mid-century classics like Panton chairs are paired with antiques and flea market finds to offer simple comfort that doesn’t detract from the dramatic spaces.

An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34

The bedrooms continue the rustic charm, but offer romantic touches including canopy beds draped in gauzy fabric.

An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34

And epic views.

An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34

Yes, I’ll take my wine on the terrace please.

An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34An Escape-Worthy Home in Pugliaon apartment 34An Escape-Worthy Home in Puglia on apartment 34

This bathroom reminds me of one of our most popular shoots of all time.

stunning home in puglia on apartment 34

If you want to truly get away from it all, it feels like Masseria Angiulli Piccolo would be the perfect spot. And I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a couple of style cues from the interior design for my own house.


SHOP THE POST: panton chair / coffee table cactus / mosquito netfrench market basket  / canopy bed / hatchandelier / white table lamp / mirror

Move over Amalfi coast. There’s a new Italian hot spot in town. You can get all the details about how to rent this Masseria right here. And don’t forget – I need all the Puglia recommendations so if you have any, please comment below!

For more the entire Wanderlust Wednesday archive, CLICK HERE

For our favorite home tours, CLICK HERE

Copenhagen does just about everything right. Design, obviously. It’s why the city has sat atop my Wanderlust Wednesday bucket list for quite some time. (Exhibit A.) Health care, which is tax-funded, covers 100% of the population and they offer more maternity leave than you could ever imagine. Work/life balance, as inboxes are often abandoned by 5:00 p.m. Food, including the best restaurant on the entire planet. (Noma? Ever heard of it? Of course you have.) Style, with their white sneakers, cropped wide-legged trousers and an overall couldn’t-be-bothered-to-wear-makeup ease. Lifestyle, with their devotion to hygge. Each Copenhagener is said to burn, on average, 13 pounds of candle wax a year. No wonder Danes are deemed the happiest people on the planet.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

So naturally, they also can brew the best damn cup of coffee you’ve ever had too. In the chicest coffee shops, with courteous baristas, tucked into historic neighborhoods. Could Copenhagen get any more charming? Doubt it.

Our favorite roving reporter Megan (have you ever checked out her love series?? seriously, you should) recently found herself in Copenhagen (why didn’t she pack me in her suitcase!) and has kindly rounded up the must-visit coffee shops for this week’s installment of Wanderlust Wednesday.

When I visit a new city I always make a point to find the local coffee shops because that is where you find the local people. You get to inject yourself into the culture – even if it’s just until the bottom of your cappuccino. Next time you find yourself in Copenhagen – as soon as possible! go! now! you won’t regret it! – start your mornings off right or wind down in the afternoon at one of these five design savvy coffee shops.

The Coffee Collective

5 best coffee shops in copehagen on apartment 34
Go to The Coffee Collective once, chances are you’ll end up there, oh, let’s say another 15 times before begrudgingly being dragged back to the airport. Walking into one of their five locations (+ a roastery – which I’m obessed with) is like popping over to an old friend’s house, if, say, your old friend went to a prestigious design school.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

The locations are warm, comforting, inviting, sophisticated – how many adjectives do you need?

I particularly felt at home at the Bernikow location, a quiet oasis near the hustle and beautiful bustle of Nyhavn, but if you want to grab something to go, pop by their spot in the Torvehallerne food market or on the harbor at their newest location at Broens Gadekøkken, a collaboration between Noma (!) and the Copenhagen Street Food.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

To stay cool and caffeinated, try the coffee kombucha, a collaboration with Laesk. It’s made from 100% filter-batch brewed coffee and organic sugar, which is then fermented with a scoby culture. A fizzy, refreshing boost of caffeine that’ll also give you a dose of probiotics? Win/win. You can feel good about dropping some Danish krone at Coffee Collective: they visit their producers annually and pay them at least 25% above the fair trade price.

Democratic Coffee

5 best coffee shops in copehagen on apartment 34

There a buzz of energy in Democratic Coffee, and that’s only partially due to the coffee. Right in the heart of Copenhagen, on Krystalgade, Democratic Coffee is attached to one of the most democratic places of all: the library.
A mix of students, professionals and Copenhageners of all kinds passes through Democratic, looking not only for a cup of coffee – they specialize in a single origin, light roast brew – but also for one of their beloved baked goods, made in-house. They’re known for their almond croissant, but I couldn’t pass up the pain au chocolate, which are both freshly baked twice a day. From the coffee to croissants to the people watching, there’s no going wrong at Democratic.

Atelier September

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

Do you think Atelier September would notice if I moved in? Just nestle into the corner of the sun-soaked spot and never leave?

Part cafe, part creative studio, part boutique, Atelier September is everything you want in a singular space. Frederik Bille Brahe operates the cafe part, where he serves a thoughtful coffee and tea selection with an edited, healthy(ish) breakfast and lunch menu. Meanwhile, in the back addition, opened in 2015, designers Jonas and Annette Trampedach feature a must-have-it-now collection of furniture, lighting, antiques and posters – including many of their own designs.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34 the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

During my recent visit, over a bowl of shakshuka that roused me back to life after an overnight flight, I watched a pair of young study abroaders attempt, kinda, to write a report, two older Danish women slap their knees in laughter, folks breezing through for a mid-afternoon latte and a pair of designers put their heads together a bound-to-be beautiful project. Just another Monday mid-afternoon at Atelier September.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

Breakfast and lunch is served all day, every day. We’re suckers for the comte cheese and soft-boiled egg and matcha tea, though their light roast coffee by Swedish roaster Koppi is also A+.


the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

Why, yes you can get coffee at the little sister of the world’s most renowned restaurant, Noma. There are two sides to 108: the restaurant itself, which opens at 5:00 p.m. and is an easier reservation to secure than Noma, and The Corner, where you can start your day off right with coffee and pastries, in, no big deal, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

As for that coffee, Tim Wendelboe, a world champion barista and rock star roaster in Oslo, Norway who also transformed the coffee program at Noma, is to thank. Though the presentation isn’t as pretentious as it sounds; in fact it’s one of the less expensive cups of outstanding coffee you can find in Copenhagen.

And about those pastries…


the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

All the cool kids go to Sonny. And for one afternoon, me too.

Supercouple Sarah Wreschner and David Andersen helm this French-inspired cafe and eatery, which combines the coolness of Paris with the coziness of Copenhagen. Think plenty of cushions, sleek marble-top tables and a streamlined menu.

If you’re all coffee’d out – though you shouldn’t be, as La Cabra Coffee Roasters and Koppi provide the beans – throw back a Sonny juice, a blend of apple, ginger, turmeric and spirulina, and down a matcha granola bowl or their be-still-my-millenial-heart avocado sandwich, with a poached egg, beetroot spread, greens and chimichurri all on rye bread.

the 5 best coffee shops in copenhagen on apartment 34

For prime people watching, nab a spot on the outdoor bench and watch those stylish Copenhageners live their best hygge life.

Tip to take home: Democratic, Coffee Collective and 108 all sell bags of beans. Pack your suitcase with some for a sip of Copenhagen once you ease back into reality, and ship me a bag while you’re at it.

For more Wanderlust Wednesday inspiration, CLICK HERE.

images via remodelista / the coffee collective / pinterestpetite passport / design boom / megan mccarty

Now that we’ve rounded the corner past Memorial Day, I can already feel my feet start to get the summer itch. You know what I’m talking about. The desire to go somewhere. Anywhere! While visions of tropical destinations and far-flung locations often dance in my head, I’m lucky that there are so many amazing travel destinations a stone’s throw from San Francisco. It is probably my favorite thing about living in the Bay Area (sorry Seattle – I still love you too). After a recent day trip to Sonoma, (did you see the gorgeousness on Instagram – I think I have to do a full recap for you on the blog – would you like that?) I’ve got serious wine country cravings. Thankfully, I already have at least one trip to wine country on the books this summer and I’m hoping to squeeze a weekend or two more in my happy place.

While it can be hard to pick an absolute favorite wine country locale, I thought I’d recap some of the best places I’ve visited through the years.

where to stay in wine country on apartment 34


where to stay in wine country on apartment 34where to stay in wine country on apartment 34where to stay in wine country on apartment 34

Meadowood Napa Valley: Tucked into a canyon off the Silverado Trail, Meadowood Napa Valley is a hidden oasis. Under 100 guest rooms (many, including the one in which we stayed, are actually individual cabins) are tucked among 250 tree-covered acres. We stayed in a Treeline Suite. The room featured a fireplace, soaking tub, private decks and of course heavenly hotel beds. What is it about hotel beds – I usually hate a soft bed but when I sink into a plush feather-filled bed when I’m on vacation, wild horses have to drag me back out again. That’s a long-winded way of saying I found the whole hotel room very comfortable and highly recommend this destination to anyone looking for a little luxury – wine country style.

where to stay in wine country on apartment 34

Solage Resort & SpaIf you love a slightly more modern look, then you’ll love Solage and their gorgeous spa. Its bathhouse has a clean, white minimal look. Rock pathways are lined with lavender and the mineral pool is surrounded by cabanas you can rent for the day. The spa has also recently partnered with green skincare line True Botanicals and offers a True Botanicals facial. I’ve been dying to try one!

where to stay in wine country on apartment 34

Indian SpringsIf you want to get a historic taste of wine country, head to Indian Springs Resort. Nestled in the charming little town of Calistoga, and built atop a 150-year old hot spring, this place feels simultaneously old school but also offer everything you want from a modern-day escape. Recently renovated, the 17-acre resort now offers a variety of guest rooms from cottages and bungalows to more traditional, though newly designed hotel rooms. The accommodations aren’t over the top, but totally comfortable. But the real stars of the show are the four thermal geysers that produce rich mineral water and a deposit of pure volcanic ash also runs through the property. The waters supply their Olympic-sized mineral pool and combined with the ash, create the special mud for their famous mud baths. The bathhouse is a one of a kind experience you should not miss. If you’re looking for a quick weekend away, this is probably the first thing I would go.


where to stay in wine country on apartment 34where to stay in wine country on apartment 34

Farmhouse InnWith only 25 rooms you’re going to get very personalized service. And of course, I swooned over the design. The rooms put the perfect modern spin on cottage chic. They feature soaking tubs, many of which open up onto patios with indoor/outdoor fireplaces. You’re given custom-made bath salts, sugar scrubs and homemade soaps at reception so you can make your own mini in-room spa kit. I don’t think I’ve bathed so much in one weekend. But I did drag myself back out of the room to give the Farmhouse Inn spa a test run. Set up in the Inn’s “barn,” I was equally impressed by the spa’s design. It was less modern zen and more country / rustic but I loved the vibe. It felt cozy and familiar.  I’m also a sucker for any space that’s all white!

And of course there are always new spots popping up in Napa and Sonoma and I’m always looking for my next destination. First up on my must-try list is below.

where to stay in wine country on apartment 34 where to stay in wine country on apartment 34

Autocamp: Set in a stunning native Redwood forest about an hour and a half from San Francisco, AutoCamp is the perfect spot for outdoor lovers who may not love roughing it (me, me, me). AutoCamp offers a “camping” experience that blends beautiful design and luxury with nature. You can choose between your own private Airstream trailer complete with a bathroom, bed & shower (yas!) or select a glamping tent that shares communal facilities. Each campsite is equipped with its own cooking stove and some have firepits. You are in the woods so hiking, mountain biking and exploring the Russian River are at your fingertips. But there’s also amazing wine all around. So it’s kinda the best of both worlds. I’ve stalked many a friend on Instagram who has given AutoCamp a test run and rave, saying its both gorgeous and kid-friendly.

Now, this isn’t a complete retrospective on where to stay in wine country. There are many a resort and of course tons of amazing rental houses out there too. I fully expect you to be reciprocal in your advice. Wineries, rental homes, hotels – I want to know it all because testing out new amazing spots is pretty much my job. So please comment away! Would you like a post on my favorite wineries too?!


Need more summer travel inspiration? CLICK HERE.


images via apartment 34 / glitter guide / hannah merrit 

It’s been a little while since we’ve had an installment of Delicious Spaces. Are you liking this series? I kind of see it as my 2018 version of Tasty Tuesday. But as I was perusing the interwebs to satisfy both my wanderlust (I haven’t left the country in over a year. that is NOT ok. Universe do you hear me?!) and my constant desire for pretty images last night, I stumbled upon Høst, a unique restaurant space in Copenhagen.

As a design enthusiast, it is incredibly embarrassing that I’ve never been to Copenhagen. It’s probably on the tippy top of my bucket list right now. Especially when I see that places like Høst exist. The restaurant was designed by my faves, Norm Architects and features many pieces from my favorite line, Menu. I love the really paired back, rustic look. It has a very Diane Keaton, The House that Pinterest Built vibe (have you seen that book yet?! It’s gorge. I’m obsessed). This space actually also reminds me of this San Francisco restaurant that I profiled a few years back.

The ceilings in this space are killing me. From the rustic wood clad ceiling and then that amazing arched concrete area? Swoon. While there is no adornment or even art, it’s not needed. There’s so much texture with the mix of materials – both rough and smooth woods, brick and concrete. The touches of greenery soften the industrial edge. I’m drooling.

Høst’s food sounds equally stunning. Høst means harvest in Danish and the menu focuses on local Nordic ingredients and seasonal greens. Dishes include things like Porcini Bouillon with pickled Black Trumpet-mushrooms, wild garlic and veal cheeks and Sea buckthorn sorbet with honey and chamomile flower. I’m not even sure what that is, but it sounds amazing. I think I’m ready to a hop on a plane. How about you?


For all of our restaurant profiles, CLICK HERE!

If you’ve been following along on Instagram of late, you may have spied my recent sojourn to Southern California. It being one of only a handful of trips I’ve taken sans child, I was determined to indulge in my primary obsessions every single second; ie good design, good food and most importantly for this trip, major design shopping. Even though the Bay Area is a bastion of creativity, it is not the greatest spot for home decor shopping. In fact, it’s pretty bad (just sayin’). In contrast, Los Angeles is basically the west coast’s design mecca. Thankfully, Alaska Airlines now has the most trips up and down the west coast so I was able to hop a quick flight, grab a healthy snack in the Alaska terminal and head straight from LAX to design gems that stretch from Venice Beach to East LA. All in a couple hours. Definitely winning.

design shopping in LA on apartment 34

As I tippy toe ever closer to finishing up my house, I’ve moved into the treasure hunt phase. It’s the spot you get to once you have major things like beds, sofas and a rug or two in place. It’s simultaneously sweet as your home is pretty livable, and simultaneously crazy making because you know the design isn’t done yet. And it’s rurl hard to find the “perfect” piece. But this is the phase where you really inject your personality into your space. This is where you can differentiate from the run of the mill design clogging Pinterest these days. This is the time for the one of a kinds. The vintage, the found. The treasured. Thankfully, LA is awash in havens of antique, vintage and modern shops that offer pieces you can’t find elsewhere.

design shopping in LA on apartment 34

There is virtually any style at any price point to be found across LA, but I knew if I was visiting design mecca I had to start with the holy grail: Galerie Half.

Sprawled across a large and light filled showroom on Melrose Ave, Galerie Half houses a beautiful mix of European antiques, classic 20th century designs and the random, odd or rare primitive piece of furniture with derivations ranging from Japan to Africa.

design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34

Fair warning, Galerie Half is not for the home decorating faint of heart. These are unique and often highly coveted pieces and they come with the price tags to match. I mean, this is where Diane Keaton and Ellen shop. But it doesn’t hurt to browse, right??

design shopping in LA on apartment 34

Thankfully, I had a guide for my sojourn through this design treasure trove. It can be really hard for a mere design hobbyist such as myself to decipher good deals from over-priced insanity, authenticity from knock-offs, and to know what must-have is truly worth the investment. Interior designer Lauren Nelson (who you’ve read about here and here) is the queen at unearthing that special something from the piles of stuff. Thankfully, we’re friends (perks of the job!) and she agreed to guide me through these unchartered waters. It came in especially handy when we got invited to stroll down the block from the main Galerie Half showroom and got to step into their (multiple!) warehouses. This was where many a gem were laying undiscovered. I was like a kid in the most expensive candy store on the planet. I was real happy.

design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34design shopping in LA on apartment 34

The rub? You can’t really tap the LA design treasure trove like Galerie Half online. You only see the teeniest, tiniest fraction of shops’ inventories on their websites. How can I best explain it? It’s like looking at that picture of Disneyland and thinking it’s just the big castle, when in fact there’s an entire wonderland behind those walls. I realize this is the cruel.

But after experiencing it firsthand, I know I’m going to have to hop an Alaska Airlines flight to LA much more frequently. Shopping LA is not like a casual stroll in the park. It’s more like climbing design Everest and I’m determined to reach the top. I kinda fell in love with a giant 19th century french mirror at Galerie Half that would be absolutely perfect over the fireplace in our dining room. But I think I have to visit it again just to be sure.

I’ve taken the liberty to round up a few of the best design destinations I saw on this trip and listed them all out below. And be sure to pop over to Instagram today. I’ll be sharing some of the design-savvy spots to eat and stay in LA.


Galerie Half
6911 Melrose Ave
High end European antiques, mid-century designs, vintage art and lighting

Lawson Fenning
6824 Melrose Ave
A massive mid-century inspired store filled with both vintage finds and original Lawson Fenning designs. A great section of ceramics and accessories, also love their lighting selections.

Nickey Kehoe
7221 Beverly Blvd
A sweet showroom chocker clock full of everything from textiles and pillows,

7418 Beverly Blvd
Garde is a go-to for all the super in accessories. Think Quan ceramics, tabletop accessories,

Amsterdam Modern
134 Glendale Blvd
This massive warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with amazing mid-century gems. But I love that most are European and many are designers you haven’t heard of before. You’ll definitely find a gem here.

Hammer & Spear
255 S Santa Fe Ave
Another downtown location, this menagerie offers a plethora of vintage furniture, quirky accessories and unique finds.

County LTD
1837 Hyperion Ave
I first discovered County Ltd at their West Coast Craft booth in San Francisco. They try to fly under the radar, but it turns out their store is jam packed with amazing vintage furniture finds, super cool lighting and kick ass accessories and art. Definitely worth a stop.

Night Palm
1724 Silver Lake Blvd
Also on the East side, this little jewel box of a showroom has a highly curated collection of vintage finds, cool large-scale artwork. You have to pop in because you just never know what kind of treasure you might find.


If you like this, be sure to check out our design travel guide to Portland, OR! What other cities would you like to see?


This post is in partnership with Alaska Airlines. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. thanks for supporting collaborations that have kept Apartment 34’s doors open

Older posts
Gimme More