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Officine Panerai names Wallace Huo as official ambassador for Greater China

Luxury watchmaker Officine Panerai reveals its first official ambassador for the Greater China region — actor Wallace Huo. The Taiwanese actor has starred in a myriad of Chinese movies and TV dramas, making him one of the most recognisable faces in China. Panerai, which has its roots in Florence, Italy, ushered in a new era with four promotional videos featuring the actor. Angelo Bonati, CEO of Officine Panerai also arrived in Beijing to celebrate this new partnership.

As the protagonist, Huo—donning Panerai watches—journeys through the streets of Florence. He perfectly captures the tradition and culture infused in Panerai’s vision. Visiting opulent locations such as a Florentine villa, the star muses, “Panerai is a timeless brand, coherent with its history and identity that has always offered an uncompromised quality to its fans. The same approach that I apply to my career. Only authenticity and passion stir true emotions”.

Huo is seen wearing a range of Panerai watches: the Luminor 1950 Equation of Time 8 days GMT Titanio, Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso, as well as the Luminor Marina 1950 Carbotech 3 Days Automatic. The first is a tribute to the bond between time measurement and astronomy. Interestingly, the timepiece displays both mean solar time— by which a day may be up to 15 minutes longer or shorter—and apparent solar time. The difference between these two measurements is displayed using a linear indicator on the dial at six o’clock.

“Wallace Huo is a great artist, an elegant man with a distinctive personal style that perfectly mirrors the identity of the Panerai watches”, declares Bonati. “His career is a testament of talent, and the commitment he infuses in everything he does, make those who are lucky enough to know him admire his authenticity and passion. We are honored to give him the task of representing our brand in Greater China.”

After over a century and a half, Panerai continues to marry Swiss craftsmanship with state of the art Italian design. This collaboration sees the brand take another step towards addressing its international audience.

For more information, visit Panerai.

Exhibitions in Rome, Italy: New ‘The Colosseum: An Icon’ exhibition reveals secret history of the tourist attraction

Architecture in Italy: Bjarke Ingles Group to design San Pellergrino’s headquarters in Terme

Known best for their Iconic green glass bottles, San Pellegrino is getting a facelift! The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), founded in Copenhagen in 2005, has won an international competition to build the flagship factory for 118-year-old sparkling water company San Pellegrino. The win was announced at an event held in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed Feltrinelli Foundation in Milan this week. BIG beat out the firms MVRDV (Netherlands), Snøhetta (Norway) and Architetto Michele De Lucchi (Italy), each of whom presented their proposals last October. According to BIG, they look forward to collaborating with San Pellegrino and local architects Studio Verticle over the next 4 years, with construction slated for conception in 2018.

A nod to Italian architectural design, the €90 million project will rebuild and extend the original plant, where water has been bottled since 1899 in the northern Italian alpine town of Terme. San Pellegrino’s new HQ will become a 17,500 square meter facility, with arches serving as its thematic through-line articulated as vaults, arcades, and pergolas. BIG’s winning design was inspired by the local landscape of the adjacent Brembo River, notably by the waterway’s seamless flow.

In addition to the factory production, visitors will be able to learn about company’s history and functionality on site, with a giant geological sample at the center. The San Pellegrino Experience Lab will enable visitors to follow the process of how mineral water is produced.

Bjarke Ingels and his firm recently starred in an episode of “Abstract: The Art of Design” — an eight-part Netflix documentary series featuring various innovators and creatives that went live on February 10. The firm’s portfolio includes such projects as a power plant with a ski slope on its roof in Copenhagen, London’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2016, the Two World Trade Center tower in New York and a design for the Hyperloop high-speed transportation system in Dubai.

Ingels’ firm was also selected by the Nordic Council of Ministers to help build a new collective brand identity for the Nordic region — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.

5 Best Castles Europe

Invest in These: 5 Top Castles, Europe 2016

There is no better place than Europe to admire some of the most majestic castles in the world. Once theaters of war and conflict, houses of the powerful, those medieval palaces are -for the most part- still standing and ready to reveal their oldest secrets. Palace Magazine selected five of the most beautiful castles currently for sale across the continent so you can start writing your own fairytale now.

1) Italy: Medieval Castle Near Siena – $31.13 million (above)

This castle dates back to the 12th century and despite multiple alterations and extensions it retains the appearance of a true fortress. Set on 360 hectares, the estate includes restored farmhouses, olive groves, vineyards and views stretching all the way to Siena. The 40,000 sq. ft. main castle has 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, original frescoes and fireplaces. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

2) Ireland: Glin Castle – $7.27 millionGlin Castle

This plush castle near Limerick has been in the FitzGerald family, hereditary Knights of Glin, for over 700 years. The property features 21 bedrooms and superb interiors with decorative plasterwork and notable collections of Irish furniture and paintings. Set on the waterfront and within 23 acres of gardens that seamlessly link to the wider parkland estate and woodlands. Available through Christie’s International Real Estate.

3) Spain: 13th Century Castle – $16.27 million13th Century Castle

Located in western Spain near the border to Portugal, this impressive castle includes over 1,000 acres of land and hunting grounds for wild boar and deer. The property was built in 1275, but has been fully refurbished and includes six bedrooms, nine reception rooms and a small museum. Available through Moulin International Real Estate.

4) Scotland: Earlshall Castle – $6.48 millionEarlshall Castle

Located in Leuchars, Fife, near St. Andrews, this stately 16th century castle features 10 bedrooms, eight reception rooms, a grand dining room, several outbuildings and a five-car garage. The property is set on 34 acres and has a celebrated walled garden designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. A number of renowned golf courses are located nearby. Available through Savills.

5) France: Castle Uzes – Price Upon RequestCastle Uzes

This picturesque 12th century castle in the south of France boasts over 8,600 sq. ft. of living space with 31 rooms, inner and outer courtyards, a roof garden and a swimming pool. The property has been fully restored, but retains original features like a Louis XIV fireplace, 17th century frescoes and coffered ceilings. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Town for Sale: Poggio Santa Cecelia, Tuscany

During the summer months, the Tuscan countryside is drenched in sunlight, a golden honey-colored hue that spills over the hills and catches on the stone sides of farmhouses, medieval castles and historic villages. One such village, Poggio Santa Cecelia is perched on a hilltop in the coveted stretch of land between Florence and Siena and includes characteristic medieval features like stone arches, narrow streets and a tall city wall. To access the borgo, one must step through an imposing gate set in an entrance of travertine stone and topped with coats of arms.

The views from the village look like a quintessential Tuscan postcard: Cyprus trees and rolling fields of green and amber. However, what distinguishes this particular borgo from other hilltop towns is that it’s currently available for sale. The owner has listed the entire historic village, which comprises about 50 buildings, for $44 million.


The town, which first appeared in historic records in 1198, contains a church, a grain store, a foundry, a carpenter’s workshop and a handful of other buildings that are laid out along three parallel streets of the original medieval plan. The sale further includes surrounding farmland: 200 acres of woodland, two lakes, 23 acres of fruit trees (plums and apples), 55 acres of vineyards growing Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG grapes, 26 acres of olive groves, 270 acres of irrigated arable land, as well as several stone houses and animal byres.

Around 200 people used to live and work at Poggio Santa Cecilia farming the surrounding land. As was common practice at the time, workers gave the landowner half of their produce in exchange for the use of a house and some land and animals. However, following the Second World War many of the estate’s inhabitants left in search of a new life, many of them working in the travertine quarries of Rapolano, and so the houses and farms were gradually abandoned.


The village’s deserted state is in part what allowed the architectural and historical treasures to be well preserved. The current owners, a family from northern Italy, have been operating the estate’s organic farm, but left the village portion largely untouched, save for weatherproofing and installing a security system to keep vandals out.

“The owner is in his 80s”, explains Francesco Carlucci, founder and CEO at Essentis Group who represents the listing. “It’s a big commitment. As you can imagine, it’s not the type of project you might want to develop once you are in your eighties. It’s a project of a lifetime”.

An ambitious individual seeking a passion project, an art aficionado, say, or a history buff is the type of buyer Mr. Carlucci has in mind for the property. Passion is important given the amount of renovation and restoration required. At this quiet hilltop village, time has stood still, be it for the slow forces of nature, the roots and vines that have begun reclaiming the stone houses. Carlucci, who specializes in historic restorations, estimates a full restoration would require five years and an additional EUR 150 million ($167.6 million). “Everything needs to be restored”, he says. “It’s basically a EUR 200 million project. This is something you should do if you are passionate about Tuscany, about art, architecture and vineyards, if you have the money and you have the dream”.


Tuscany has long been a dream destination for buyers around the world. Travelers fall in love with the region’s natural beauty and cultural riches, which include, to the west, the famed Amalfi Coast with its dramatic cliffs and sparkling beaches, and to the east the Chianti region, Italy’s foremost wine producer, with its rolling green vines and famous Sangiovese grapes. Along the winding country roads there are fields of sunflowers, vineyards, silver olive trees and the smells of lavender, mint and rosemary, aromas that are laced through the region’s mouthwatering cuisine.

Florence, the region’s largest city and birthplace of the Renaissance is home to a dizzying array of notable art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the Duomo basilica which features the largest brick dome ever constructed. Sienna, 70 kilometers to the south, is home to immaculately preserved medieval buildings and the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo. Even the smallest of villages are layered with history. Medieval churches are built on the foundations of Roman baths; Renaissance frescoes now embellish their earlier austerity.


The area’s sought-after status, however, means that top quality villas rarely come onto the market. When they do, they often discreetly change hands. “The type of people that own them try to pass them on to the next generation”, says Carlucci. “Owning a property in Tuscany is an asset; people dream of it their whole lives”, Even more extraordinary, he says, is procuring an entire Tuscan town. “This is big. This is a piece of history”.

Over the last decade, several Tuscan hamlets have been restored and redeveloped as luxury hotels. The most notable, Il Borro, was developed by the Ferregamo family. Ferruccio Ferragamo first discovered a Tuscan village while on a hunting trip in 1985. At the time, the hillside village, once owned by the Savoy dynasty, was in a severe state of disrepair and, in spite of being surrounded by fertile land, its inhabitants were struggling to make a living. He bought the hamlet, as well as a neighboring villa that had been half-destroyed during WWII and spent much of the past decade overseeing the restoration. Ferragamo transformed the hilltop village, which dates back to 1039, into a luxury resort where the rooms and villas retain many original features, but include modern comforts like air-conditioning, mini-kitchens with espresso-makers, mosaic-walled bathrooms and Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.


Borgo San Felice, located about 50 kilometers east of Il Borro, has also been transformed from medieval town to a luxury hideaway. The village, which dates back to the 8th century, retains its narrow streets and picturesque squares, its Romanesque chapel and shrines, as well as 140 hectares of surrounding vineyards. The hotel’s rooms and suites are scattered throughout the main villas and other buildings.

Developing a luxury resort with villas is one option available to the future owner of Poggio Santa Cecilia, but Mr. Carlucci believes the property could also sell to a single buyer. “In the world we live in today I wouldn’t be surprised if some visionary family decide to actually own the town and do what they want with it”, he says.


The one point on which Mr. Carlucci remains firm is that the estate be sold in its entirety. “Splitting it up would be like so many other properties on the market. And the second you split it you lose the entire ability to control it”, he says. Careful, considered restorations have become an Essentis Group trademark, which is why the current owner has entrusted the company with the restoration. The company has its own stonemason academy and restores everything from original arches, to facades and floors. Its craftsmen also have the capability of building historic features anew using traditional materials and centuries-old techniques.

In the southern Italian region of Puglia, the group recently built a range of luxury contemporary masseries (courtyard farmhouses). The buildings have traditional features such as a barrel-shaped vaulted stone ceiling made of hand-cut limestone and sandstone, but they also have modern touches like swimming pools, pizza ovens, wine cellars and indoor spas. Such an approach, albeit adapted to a Tuscan setting and style, would guide Essentis Group’s restoration of Poggio Santa Cecilia.


Most of the village houses have traditional Tuscan wooden doors, terracotta tiled roofs and floors and wood beamed ceilings. There are about 20 farmhouses in total, each one resembling a quintessential Tuscan scene complete with cypress trees and open fields. And although they were originally peasant homes, the properties are stately and large ranging from around 3,800 sq. ft. to more than 10,000 sq. ft. of potential living space. The centrepiece of the village is the summer residence of its former aristocratic owners, the counts of Buoninsegni. The majestic villa, completed about 100 years ago on the site of the original castle still evokes the grace and ease of nobility with its grand salons, conservatory and formal English gardens.


So far Poggio Santa Cecila has piqued the interest of numerous potential investors. Although Mr. Carlucci cannot comment on who has expressed interest, the real estate professionals in the region say international buyers are currently a strong force. “In Umbria and Tuscany, there is a return of foreign customers, American, Chinese and Southeast Asia”, says Fulvio Biagioli from Italy Sotheby’s International Realty. In particular, he says he receives requests from buyers from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Current real estate prices in Italy are around 30% below their pre-2009 peak, but this trend is starting to change. In 2015 inquiries on Italian property increased 57% year-on-year according to data from Knight Frank, with Liguria, Umbria, Sardinia and Tuscany all seeing an increase in sales volume. Overall sales were up 7%.


Mr. Biaioli’s listings include Casigliano, a 16th century manor in Umbria, 1.5 hours from Rome, which includes 13 country houses with views of the Umbrian hills. Eight of the buildings have been renovated, while the remaining four still require restoration. The property, which could make an ideal boutique hotel, is listed for $11.1 million.

Though investors may find other opportunities for development, Francesco Carlucci remains adamant that nothing quite compares to a medieval village in a premium Tuscan location. “There are many beautiful farmhouses, great residences to rent or own, but they are not comparable to a whole town located just 20 kilometers from Siena. This is something that simply doesn’t happen every day”.



Poggio Santa Cecilia, Italy

Hilltop village:
96,875,19 sq. ft.

Total land area:
700 hectares

500 hectares

Fruit trees:
9.5 hectares

22.5 hectares

Olive groves:
10.5 hectares

6 hectares

Additional uncultivated land:
42 hectares

Farmhouses and outbuildings:
118,403 sq. ft., of which 53,820 sq. ft. has planning permission to be a residential development.

Essentis Group

$44 million

Estimated price of restoration:
$167.6 million

[email protected]
+44 (0) 782 571 7758

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

Hunting Season in Italy’s Truffle Country

“It is not a job. It’s a passion, a real sickness!” It is the early hours of the morning and Giovanni Sacchetto is explaining why chilly autumn nights find him trailing by moonlight through the woods around Alba in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Sacchetto, 64, and his beloved companion Dora, a sprightly Lagotto Romagnolo gundog, are on the hunt for white truffles, the hard-to-find fungi famed amongst foodies for their earthy scent, and their equally heady prices.

“I can go to bed at 11:00 pm and be up again at 3:00 am, ready to go out again,” Sacchetto says. “It is not for the money. It is a sickness you have inside. A truffle is a strange thing. And it’s lovely, because it’s so strange. You never know where you might find one. Never.”

Now nine, Dora has been Sacchetto’s constant companion since she was an eager young puppy learning how to use her sensitive nose to sniff out truffles buried beneath the forest floor.

“I’m not saying it is better than a wife, but for a truffle hunter his dog is something… indescribable,” Sacchetto says with a smile.

Part of humanity’s heritage

The Romagnolo breed is known for its acute sense of smell but individual dogs still have to be trained, starting with pieces of gorgonzola, the whiffy Italian blue cheese, buried under ground, before graduating to actual truffles.

Now when Dora locates a truffle, she wags her tail excitedly over the spot where a valuable tuber awaits – usually buried between 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) below the surface.

For her it is a game – her efforts rewarded with a treat in the form of a biscuit or a little piece of dry bread.

Sacchetto was 14 when he first went truffle hunting, with his grandfather. At the time, it was about putting food on the table, he recalls.

Now it is more of a hobby, but secret spots are still jealously guarded. “I’ve been doing this for 50 years, I know all the plants, all the paths.”

At one time, truffles were more plentiful but the cutting of some trees and the effects of pollution on others has reduced the autumnal bounty, he says.

Fears the delicate ecosystem that produces the white truffles could be at risk has triggered a crowdfunding initiative aimed at raising 50,000 euros to ensure better management of the local woodlands.

Antonio Degiacomi, president of the National Centre for the Study of Truffles, says wooded areas around Alba have been neglected, with faster growing species threatening to crowd out truffle-friendly trees like oaks and lime trees.

“There is not an imminent threat but we have to be pro-active,” he says.

Helpful measures include thinning denser woodland and planting new trees but coordinating action is complicated, notably because the hunters who know where truffles are produced often do not own the land on which they forage.

Like fine wine

Tracking down edible fungi is an Italian obsession with some 200,000 active enthusiasts nationwide, of whom 4,000 are based in Piedmont.

The country is so proud of its truffle culture that it has asked for it be enshrined on a list of humanity’s intangible heritage maintained by the UN’s culture body, UNESCO.

Alba is already well known in gastronomic circles as home to some of Italy’s most famous red wines and it has been hosting an annual white truffle fair since before World War II, drawing in thousands of gourmet pilgrims for nearly two months of tasting, buying and selling.

This year’s festivities conclude on November 27 and prices are averaging 3,000-4,000 euros ($3,300-$4,400) per kilo.

For Swiss enthusiast Marie-Claude, it is a price worth paying. “Just the scent is something unique,” she said. “Personally I like it best with something really simple, just on some pasta or a risotto.”

Matteo Baronetto, head chef at the Michelin-starred “Del Cambio” restaurant in nearby Turin, concurs.

“The thing that is very specific to the Alba truffle is the incomparable lightness of its aroma, and its elegance,” he says as he assembles a salad of seasonal vegetables speckled by ultra-fine shavings of the local delicacy.

“It is such a pure product of nature that us chefs have to be at the service of the truffle, and not the other way round.”

Harvested from September 21 until the end of January, truffles need both rain and cold to thrive, according to Sacchetto.

“The colder it is, the better the truffle,” he says, adding that no two are exactly alike. “The truffle is like wine, each zone has its own smell and those from Alba are the most perfumed.”

Fontana Del Vino, Italy: Free Flowing Wine

Top Luxury Travel Destination Revealed

Italy leads the list of top luxury travel destinations for the coming 12 months in a survey put together by the Travel Leaders Group. Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group (TLG), commented that Italy is popular among “affluent travelers who are seeking authentic, enriching experiences paired with a multitude of very high-end accommodations.”

So what do luxury travelers expect when they explore the world? According to TLG, affluent holidaymakers expect fine dining, private concierge-level access, spas, butler service, and a personalized or private check-in and check-out. “That’s important for industry partners to recognize,” said Gail Grimmett, President of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.

Italy and Africa had already been on the radar of luxury travelers, as has the United StatesAside from Italy, other top-ranked luxury travel destinations include European river cruises, the United States, Mediterranean cruises, and Australia. Iceland, New Zealand, and Cuba are also recognized in the list as a destination with growing interest. Here is the full list:

1. Italy

2. European river cruise

3. United States

4. Mediterranean cruise

5. Australia

6. Mexico

7. Ireland

8. Caribbean cruise

9. France

10. England (Tie)

10. Iceland (Tie)

11. South Africa

12. New Zealand

13. Jamaica

14. Costa Rica

15. Cuba

Belmond Villa San Michele Launches Inferno tour

Belmond Villa San Michele is launching an immersive Inferno tour of Florence, Italy, as the premiere of the film draws closer. If you’ve always wanted a starring role in a conspiracy theory film set against the breathtaking backdrop of Tuscany and Florence, this looks a good bet. Hotel guests are be able to experience the adventures of the movie’s main characters – Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) and Sienna Brooks (played by Felicity Jones) – firsthand.

The tour will have you go around the city unraveling mysteries and interpreting hidden meanings in works of art. Through secret passageways, palazzi, galleries, and landmarks you will search for clues to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, you can also do what everyone else does and be astonished at the exquisite Florentine architecture, including Badia Florentina, where the movie’s story begins. Your journey will continue to the Palazo Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens, and the Baptistery of Saint John.

The ‘Inferno tour’ aims to intrigue travellers who want to discover the city and its protagonists of the past, like Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari. The three-hour guided tour is priced at $393, excluding museum tickets.


Set in the hillside of Tuscany, Belmond Villa San Michele is a calm sanctuary above the bustling city below. The building is a restored 15th century monastery, decorated with frescos, ancient carvings and a façade attributed to Michelangelo. Rich history aside, the hotel also has a panoramic outdoor swimming pool with a view of the city of Florence, terraced Italian gardens, and an award-winning Italian cooking school.

For more information on Belmond Villa San Michele, visit www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence.


Chianti Classico Makers Bid for UNESCO Status

Chianti Classico Makers Bid for UNESCO Status

To mark the 300th anniversary of Italy’s Chianti Classico heritage, winemakers have announced plans to launch a bid for UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.

Organized by Chianti Classico winemakers who together form a group called the Consortium, the move is meant to put the Chianti region of Italy on the same plane as Piedmont, Burgundy and Champagne, protected wine-growing regions which are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their long winemaking traditions.

This fall, the Chianti region in Tuscany celebrated 300 years since the Ducal decree that first established the boundaries for Chianti Classico.

The territory’s capitals are Siena and Florence and amount to 71,800 hectares (177,500 acres) of wine country.

Chianti produced outside the designated geographic area is designated by the omission of the word Classico as the two wines are produced in different regions under different sets of production regulations.

Bottles produced in the Chianti Classico region are identifiable by the group’s logo, a black rooster.

To qualify for the designation, Chianti Classico must be produced with a minimum ratio of 80 percent Sangiovese. The remaining 20 percent can be a blend of native grapes like Canaiolo, Colorino and international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

But winemakers of Chianti Classico will be up against another Italian wine-growing region which has long been hoping for UNESCO recognition. The Prosecco-producing region of Valdobbiadene-Conegliano was submitted as an application in 2010 and remains on the ‘tentative’ list.

To be inscribed on the World Heritage List, sites must be of “outstanding universal value” such as bearing a unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or civilization.

The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee takes place in Istanbul October 24-26.

Chianti Keeps Rising After 300 years

By the early 18th century, the sale of counterfeit bottles of Chianti wine to ever-thirsty England had become so rife that the local merchant nobles felt compelled to act.

Three hundred years ago on Saturday, Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, issued a decree declaring that chianti wine could only be produced within a designated area between the Renaissance powerhouses of Florence and Siena.

The world’s first legally enforceable wine appellation had been born. The Medici duke’s decree defined an area of 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) that now produces 35 million bottles a year of chianti classico.

Eighty percent of them are exported to some 100 countries and the region’s reputation has been on an upward curve since the 1980s, making it a magnet for wine pilgrims.

Sipping from a glass of classico riserva in the Enoteca Falorni wine bar and merchant in Greve in Chianti, Diya Khanna says her trip has been an eye-opener.

“In Canada you think of chianti as one type of wine, but if you come here you learn what it’s really all about. There is such a variety of styles,” the Berlin-based Canadian tells AFP.

“All of the classicos we have tried have had this soft velvety finish, like a smooth song that finishes off at the end really, really nicely.”

Brand confusion

Chianti classico producers have long battled confusion among consumers about the difference between their sought-after, geographically restricted wine and the less distinguished simple chianti made in other parts of Tuscany.

Up to 2010, a producer in the heartland area defined by the 1716 decree could produce both. But that practice was banned as part of measures to strengthen the classico brand and its trademark black rooster logo.

Generally lighter and less expensive, ordinary chianti remains associated for many with the staple candle-holder of 1970s Italian trattorias – a bottle half-wrapped in a straw basket known as a ‘fiasco’.

It was from a fiasco that the popes of the 16th century enjoyed their chianti.

But the rounded vessel was to become a symbol of the damage done to the region’s international image by an export-driven boom in which quality was sometimes sacrificed for quantity.

Rugby-loving winemaker

The idea underlying the 1716 decree was that Tuscany’s land and climate had combined serendipitously over centuries with local know-how to guarantee that a wine from chianti would be of a certain style and quality.

Three centuries later, that idea still prevails among the eclectic bunch of characters now producing chianti classico.

But there is also a new emphasis on variations created by particular soils, exposure and altitude – something wine experts refer to as the “terroir” of a particular site.

With his trim beard, gilet and smart suede boots, Marco Mazzoni looks like a gentleman farmer dressed by Giorgio Armani.

But the owner of the small Corte di Valle estate outside Greve insists turning sangiovese grapes into attractive wine is no job for city dilettantes.

“The ground is full of stones and rocks,” he says. “The vines have to suffer to grow and thrive. It makes you sweat.”

At Querciabella on the other side of the valley, rugby-loving winemaker Manfred Ing’s style is more shorts and walking boots as he oversees the harvest of encouragingly plump sangiovese berries: 2016 could be a vintage to remember, he says.

Querciabella is in the vanguard of a push for a shake-up in the rules that would allow classico producers to label their single-vineyard wines as coming from specific micro-zones on the model of Burgundy in France.

Like many of the top Burgundies, Querciabella is farmed organically and according to bio-dynamic principles. Even the use of manure is now eschewed at a property owned by vegan Sebastiano Castiglioni.

“If we want to be still producing chianti here in another 300 years, this is the way to go,” says South African-born Ing as he explains how winter crops such as rocket and wild mustard are used to replenish the vineyard soil in the absence of artificial fertilizers.

Pregnant patience

Once the preserve of men, another thing that has changed in 300 years is that some acclaimed chianti classicos are now made by women.

“We are a small but growing club,” says Susanna Grassi, who gave up the underwear business for wine in 2000 in order to revitalise the family farm.

Grassi’s nine-hectare estate, “I Fabbri” (“The Blacksmiths”), goes up to 680 meters (2,230 feet) altitude, close to the limit of where the heat-loving sangiovese will ripen.

Grassi does not have the option of making powerful, structured wine. Instead the emphasis is on elegance and finesse – a trend towards the expression of pure sangiovese that she thinks Tuscany’s female winemakers are helping to drive.

“I think women do have a different sensibility when it comes to wine,” she tells AFP. “Maybe it is because pregnancy teaches us to wait, knowing that the final result will be “bello” (beautiful).”

Salone del Gusto: Slow Food Fair

Turin is currently hosting the Salone del Gusto fair and it is dubbed the world’s biggest gourmet food and wine fair. Running until September 26, the fair will feature tasting sessions, workshops and street food parties. It is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Organised by the Slow Food movement and Terra Madre network of food communities, the fair is now in its 30th year. Founded by food critic and sociologist Carlo Petrini, the fair was created in response to the first fast-food restaurants in Italy. Visitors to the North Italian city can enjoy food trucks from around the world, themed tours while 7,000 delegates from 143 countries visit the fair.

The association aims to educate the public on different tastes, defend biodiversity and promote a food production model that is respectful of the environment and cultural identities.

Today the movement has 100,000 members in 160 countries.

As well as cooking lessons and dinner dates, this year’s fair offers dozens of taste workshops, where international dishes are paired with world class vintages, and an enormous market where visitors can meet farmers and artisans.

Horticulturalists will be on hand to offer would-be gardeners tips on starting their own vegetable patches as part of the Slow Food movement’s drive to encourage as many people as possible to start growing their own food again.

Russian identical twins Sergey and Ivan Berezutskiy, chefs who have taken Moscow by storm, will show off their modern take on pre-Soviet cuisine, while Xavier Pellicer from Barcelona transforms meat and fish into side dishes alongside a rich main of vegetables.

More than 900 exhibitors of gourmet specialities will also be present, along with 310 producers of traditional or endangered products protected by the Slow Food label, from Mexico’s Serrano peppers to Peru’s Amaranth flake.

“The most important battle for the future is the right to food for all, on the mitigation of climate change, protection of biodiversity, and man’s relationship with food production and with the earth,” Petrini said before the fair opened.

“All together, with our everyday choices, we have an extraordinary potential”.

He said the movement aims to “mobilise the greatest number of people, to tell them what we do and involve them in what we do, because it’s time for concrete action.”

Haute Couture Yachting: Benetti Meets Kiton

In a move that will bring some of the finest Italian craftspeople together, Benetti has announced a new partnership with Italian tailor Kiton. This collaboration will see the yacht manufacturer work closely with the bespoke tailor to deck out the luxury yachts in the best that Italian sartorial elegance has to offer.

Customers who turn to one of the world’s oldest yacht builders will have the chance to tap the skills of the tailors at Kiton to style their lounges for that added touch of luxury. In turn, the top clients of the Neapolitan fashion house can look forward to exclusive access to Italian superyachts during the boat shows. This applies for such shows as Cannes, Montecarlo, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, through 2017.

“The aim of the partnership is to devote increasing attention to our customers who have chosen a unique and exclusive lifestyle”, says Antonio De Matteis, CEO of Kiton. He adds “Excellence and quality: these are the basic principles of our partnership of which I’m extremely proud. Benetti is a beacon of Italian excellence which perfectly matches our own values: a family-oriented atmosphere, innovation, style and quality.”

Clients interested in learning more about the new joint venture can do so at the upcoming boat shows. Alternatively, Benetti can arrange for its top clients to visit Kiton’s premises in Naples and Milan. In turn, Kiton’s clientele will be able to visit the “Yachtique” styling lounges that can be found in the Benetti boutique in Viareggio.


Greece Best Travel Destination 2016: Report

Despite the economic turmoil and migrant crisis that has plagued Greece in recent memory, the Mediterranean country has topped Condé Nast’s 2016 Readers’ Travel Awards as the best travel destination in the world.

With more than 60 untouched islands, stretches of idyllic beaches and historic sites that span millennia, it is little wonder that tourists remain enamored by Greece. In fact, the country’s tourism board is looking forward to a bumper year for 2016, with arrivals estimated to reach 25 million, or 27.5 million including cruise ship passengers. Yes, we recommended Greek holidays too!


According to Condé Nast, factors for the surge in popularity include fears of violence and unrest in neighboring Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt – once major resort destinations – which caused holidaymakers to divert their vacation plans to Greece. Italy and the U.S. follow closely behind on the list.


Maldives continues to reign as the top island retreat destination, followed by the Greek Islands and Balearic Islands in Spain. We couldn’t agree more. Readers of the UK-based magazine also revealed their selection of 5-star boutique hotel Eden Rock – St Barths as best hotel of the year. The Caribbean hotel – owned by Pippa Middleton’s new in-laws – is part of the Oetker Collection, which also boasts The Lanesborough in London and Le Bristol in Paris.

Here are the top 10 countries and islands that made it to Condé Nast’s Traveller’s online Readers’ Travel Awards 2016:

Top 10 countries:

1. Greece
2. Italy
3. USA
4. South Africa
5. France
6. Spain
7. India
8. Australia
9. Thailand
10. Mexico

Top 10 islands:

1. Maldives
2. Greek Islands
3. Balearic Islands
4. Sicily
5. Seychelles
6. St. Lucia
7. Bali
8. Koh Samui
9. Malta
10. St. Barth’s

Full results appear in the October issue of CN Traveller.

Italy Chefs Support Amatrice Quake Victims

Italy Chefs Stand with Amatrice Quake Victims

More than 700 Italian restaurants have added spaghetti all’amatriciana to their menus in solidarity with the victims of an earthquake that destroyed the birthplace of the famous pasta dish.

Chefs around the world are being urged to follow suit after the Slow Food movement threw its weight behind the idea, with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also backing the idea and urging customers to #EatForItaly.

Amatrice was one of several mountain villages devastated by Wednesday’s powerful quake and it will be some time before the hilltop beauty spot is once again serving up its signature dish to the gastronomic pilgrims who flock there in their thousands every summer.

In the meantime, amatriciana, one of the staples of the cuisine of Rome and much of central Italy, is going to be much more widely available thanks to Paolo Campana, a graphic artist from the Italian capital.

Under an initiative he launched on Facebook, restaurants are being encouraged to put amatriciana on their menus and to donate two euros from every dish sold to the relief fund for the quake victims.

The idea has taken off spectacularly with over 700 restaurants contacting him by Thursday lunchtime to say they wanted to participate, he told AFP.

“I’m very attached to Amatrice,” he said. “On New Year’s eve last year I had dinner in the Hotel Roma which makes the best amatriciana in the village. Today there is nothing of it left.”

The hotel Campana was referring to collapsed in Wednesday’s quake, just days before it was due to be at the center of an annual festival dedicated to a sauce first created by shepherds in the rugged mountains that surround the village.

“At the start it was just a rough idea I put up on Facebook. But it has taken off and I’ve made a little poster that restaurants can put up in their windows to show they are participating in the initiative.

British chef joins in

“I’ve got requests from all over Italy, from Puglia to Tuscany, and also from abroad. I have been asked to translate the sign into several languages to export the scheme. Even restaurateurs who have never cooked amatriciana before are going to have a go.”

Carlo Petrini, president of the Slow Food movement, urged restaurants around the world to put the dish on their menus for at least a year.

“We hope in this way to keep the public’s attention for longer — we have to look beyond the immediate emergency and start working from today to rebuild,” he said.

In a posting on his official Facebook page, Britain’s Oliver said he and the 700 chefs working for him would be cooking up the dish for the rest of the month.

“It will be on the specials board tonight at Jamie’s Italian, and for the rest of the month £2 (2.35 euros/$2.65) from each dish will go straight to the International (Committee of the) Red Cross,” he wrote. “I think we can easily make thousands and thousands of pounds to help.”

An authentic amatriciana

Amatriciana is one of those dishes that Italians love to argue about. Although it is always essentially a combination of pork cheek (guanciale), onions, tomatoes and pecorino cheese spiced with a bit of chili, recipes vary significantly, particularly as the dish has been exported around the world.

Some people use sweet-cured pancetta (pork belly) instead of guanciale, others, including the celebrated River Cafe restaurant in London, throw in a bit of rosemary.

Spaghetti is the most frequently used pasta but in Rome, where the restaurant trade is full of natives of the Amatrice region, they favor bucatini, a slightly thicker noodle with a hole in the middle.

There is also debate over whether to use red or white wine to deglaze the pan after frying the cured pork and onions to the (also much discussed) correct degree of caramelized crispness.

Against this backdrop of culinary confusion, the local council in Amatrice issued a decree a few years ago spelling out exactly how to make an authentic amatriciana.

Spaghetti gets the nod as the pasta of choice, no more than a splash of white wine is allowed and if you use anything other than fatty guanciale you must give your sauce another name.

“Only with guanciale will the dish be incomparably delicate and sweet,” the council warns on its website. San Marzano tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, are de rigeur.

A tiny piece of fiery dried chili is all that is required for a subtle heat and the grated pecorino must only be added at the end, to the cooked spaghetti just before the sauce.


Africa, Italy Most Popular Winter Destinations

It may seem unlikely but Africa has become top choice for the rich and wealthy when it comes to holiday season this winter. According to a new report from international luxury travel network Virtuoso, Africa has seen a spike of 28 percent in sales compared to last year.

Kenya is expected to be the fastest-growing destination in terms of number of visitors, with a projected increase of 59 percent. Meanwhile, travel to South Africa has increased 28 percent, while Tanzania, 27 percent. Virtuoso reckons this is due to the rise in popularity in safari expeditions, which is great for multi-generational family trips.

However, the top three most popular holiday destinations this winter are still in Europe – Italy, followed by France and the UK. To attract the traveling elite, hotels across Europe are lowering daily rates, a move which will also attract budget-conscious tourists. Parisian hotels have seen a two percent decrease in daily hotel rates. In comparison to summer rates, those in Rome are down six percent, London seven percent and Barcelona 15 percent.

Here are the top 10 most popular fall and winter travel destinations among wealthy travelers:

  • 1. Italy
  • 2. France
  • 3. United Kingdom
  • 4. South Africa
  • 5. Spain
  • 6. China
  • 7. Mexico
  • 8. Australia
  • 9. New Zealand
  • 10. Israel

Countries that have seen the largest percentage growth year-over-year:

  • 1. Kenya
  • 2. Iceland
  • 3. Saint Martin
  • 4. China
  • 5. Ecuador
  • 6. Japan
  • 7. South Africa
  • 8. Tanzania
  • 9. Croatia
  • 10. Jamaica
Lamborghini-Huracán-LP610-4 Avio-Blu Grifo

Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Avio: Ready For Takeoff

The Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Avio might just be the closest thing to a fighter jet you’ll see on the roads. Unveiled in Hong Kong earlier this week, the limited edition car’s name, color and materials are a proper salute to the world of aviation and aeronautics.

Lamborghini-Huracán-LP610-4 Avio-Blu Grifo

“The Huracán Avio pays tribute to the significant impact of the aviation world in shaping the evolution of Automobili Lamborghini,” says Albert Wong, Director of Lamborghini Hong Kong. “From the custom-developed aeronautic exterior paints and liveries, down to the smallest laser-engraved details in the interior, this limited edition Huracán represents a culmination of Lamborghini’s cutting-edge designs and technologies inspired by avionics.”

Lamborghini-Huracán-LP610-4 Avio-Blu Grifo

True enough, the Lamborghini Huracan Avio borrows several stylistic features from the aeronautical world. It comes in five specifically developed color variants: the standard Grigio Falco with pearlescent finish, and four optional matte colors: Blu Grifo (blue), Grigio Nibbio (light grey), Grigio Vulcano (dark grey) and Verde Turbine (green). Fun fact: these colors are taken from the coats-of-arms representing courses at the Italia Air Force Academy. Contrasting double white or grey stripes run along the roof and down the front bonnet.

An L63 logo on the Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Avio door panels sets the limited edition apart from the standard version, complete with a tricolor cockade, an aeronautics symbol distinguishing nationality. In its cockpit lies a suave amalgamation of black leather with a special black Alcantara that’s laser-engraved with a unique hexagonal motif. However, if you’re feeling something a bit more cheery, there’s always Lamborghini’s Ad Personam customization program.

Lamborghini-Huracán-LP610-4 Avio-Blu Grifo

Like almost all other Lamborghinis, the Huracán is named after a famous Spanish fighting bull, and it had big shoes to fill after taking over the baton from the Gallardo. But the Italians have got that sorted out. The savagery that lives under its bonnet comes in the form of a naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V10. Combined with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox and hybrid chassis in aluminum and carbon fiber, the car is capable of 610 hp, and will do 0 to 60mph in a whiplash-inducing 3.2 seconds. Flat out, it’ll oblige 202 mph.

The Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Avio is a limited edition of 250 examples, and this exclusivity will cost you a minimum of HK$4.48 million.

Media Premiere: MCY 80 Yacht, Trieste

Monte Carlo Yachts went back to its hometown of Trieste, Italy, late last month for the unveiling of its brand new yacht the MCY 80. We joined several invited guests for the exclusive media premiere to find out more about the yacht and witness the exquisite design for ourselves. At a gala dinner on July 23, Monte Carlo Yachts brought out the newest member of the Monte Carlo Yachts family. While the MCY 80 was the star attraction, the Beneteau-owned firm also invited opera singers Christiano Cremonini and Simona Ferrari to serenade guests as they wined and dined the night away.

While the public will be able to lay eyes on 24-meter yacht at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September, we can provide you with a few titbits about the sixth yacht to join the MCY collection. To craft a new addition to the award-winning model line-up, Monte Carlo Yachts teamed up with the MCY designers Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard. The result was an elegant design that kept the classic elements of the MCY range while providing a spacious area for relaxation.

Interior of the MCY 80

Interior of the MCY 80

Far from minimalistic, the yacht is fitted with bleached oak floors alongside luxurious leather and stone fittings and finishings. Adding to the design of the interior are furnishings from luxury labels such as Hermes, Armani Casa and Minotti for a modern and tasteful result.The MCY 80 doesn’t hold the title of third largest yacht in the collection for nothing. While the yacht is crafted to serve as a home while out on the high seas, it aims to be a powerful and refined piece of machinery that provides good performance.

“Don’t call ours a dream, call it a vision,” says Carla Demaria, President of Monte Carlo Yachts. “Behind every success story there is always a powerful dream, but we prefer to call it vision. A vision is the art of seeing what it is invisible to others, but to deliver results, the vision needs to be converted into a strategy, and the strategy deployed into a plan of action. 80 is our new goal, that is the MCY 80s campaign claim, and it is a fitting motto for the way Monte Carlo Yachts operates.

Monte Carlo Yachts is represented by Simpson Marine (Asia) and Asia Yachting (Hong Kong, Macau). For more information on the MCY 80, visit Monte Carlo Yachts.

Il Sereno Lago di Como Opens by Lake Como

Il Sereno Lago di Como Opens by Lake Como

By the tranquil banks of Lake Como’s eastern shore sits ll Sereno Lago di Como, a newly-opened five-star boutique residence that will also mark the first new hotel by the lake in decades.

Designed by prolific Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, the Il Sereno is located a convenient 6km away from the center of Como and a mere 50 minutes from Milan. It joins its neighbor Villa Pliniana by the same lake and Le Sereno Hotel and Villas in St. Barthelemy to be the third Sereno Hotels property.

Merging both contemporary design and quiet elegance, the compound houses a private beach, infinity pool and gardens designed by botanist Patrick Blanc, so you can expect total serenity amidst nature. At the helm of the Ristorante Berton is decorated Milan restauranteur and Michelin star chef Andrea Berton, who will serve up a menu inspired by the region.

“Sereno Hotels has perfected the art of providing luxury service in a relaxed manner and we look forward to introducing our brand of service to Lake Como. Guests will have access to not only the best in design, amenities and cuisine, but will also find an attention to detail that is unrivalled,” said Samy Ghachem, Managing Director of Sereno Hotels.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Il Sereno Lago di Como Dibuka di Sisi Danau Como

Rolls-Royce-Dawn until dusk-Dawn

Rolls-Royce Unveils Bespoke ‘Dusk Until Dawn’ Cars

It is easy to see Porto Cervo’s charm, especially to a top-shelf automaker such as Rolls-Royce. The swanky seaside resort destination in Northern Sardinia boasts a spectacular coastline, lots of beautiful people and a laidback glamour like no other. Rolls-Royce even has a special initiative related to Porto Cervo, which we have covered previously. No surprise, then, that Rolls-Royce is returning to the Italian marina as palette inspiration for ‘Dusk Until Dawn’ – a bespoke series of two of its well-loved cars, a Dawn drophead and a Wraith coupe.

Rolls-Royce-Dawn until dusk-Dawn

Revealed at the brand new Rolls-Royce Summer Studio in Sardinia, both cars are infused with the ambient hues of Porto Cervo at its most spectacular: dawn and dusk. As its name suggests, the bespoke Dawn (pictured above) is a vision of the marina’s aquamarine waters as light breaks upon the waves. An ethereal emerald green exterior envelops a seashell and green leather cabin, complemented by teak trimmings (yacht decks, anyone?) that extends to the tourneau cover that shields the roof and trunk compartment. With an insignia of Porto Cervo on the dashboard fascia that’s embedded with real emeralds and mother-of-pearl in white gold, this Dawn is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious vehicles in the world.

Rolls-Royce-Dawn until dusk-Wraith

For the one-off Wraith, an iridescent two-toned silver finish on its exterior reflects the changing light as the sun sets, setting the mood for its ethereal twilight-infused interiors. Step inside to a cocoon of glamour with seats swathed in decadent plum-colored ostrich leather and wooden veneers and marquetry in shades of slate greys, browns and black.

Rolls-Royce-Dawn until dusk-Wraith

“Patrons of our marque delight in inhabiting some of the world’s most beautiful enclaves,” said Isobel Dando, General Manager, Future Retail, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “The stunning Bespoke Wraith and emerald embellished Dawn, inspired by the sights and colors of Porto Cervo, have been commissioned in the spirit that so many of our customers delight in.”Rolls-Royce-Dawn until dusk-porto cervoIt’s also somewhat fitting that the British car marque extends its bespoke reveals to one of its clients, tattoo artist Mo Coppoletta, who used Sardinia’s stunning environment as inspiration for two tattooed Rolls-Royce headrests. “The designs I have created for Rolls-Royce evoke the emotion experienced by observing this magical place from the harbor of Promenade du Port,” Coppoletta said.

This story is also available in Bahasa Indonesia. Read it here: Rolls-Royce Menampilkan Unit Pesanan ‘Dusk Until Dawn’