Category: Trip Tips

Miami: top neighbourhoods

Wynwood

Creative, explosive and eccentric, Wynwood is the artistic heart of Miami.

Dynamic and trendy, this neighbourhood is characterised by small ateliers, high fashion boutiques, art galleries and exhibition spaces, more than 70 overall.

You can feel it also in the streets, full of graffitis and murales.

Wynwood is also called the Little San Juan and El barrio, for its historic puerto rican origins: modernity and traditions mixed together that generate a unique atmosphere.

Creative spirits and style lovers step up: the city tour starts from here.

 

Coralway

Coralway is situated northwest of Downtown Miami, on the road that brings to Coral Gables.

Its historicity can be admired in the architecture that mixes Art Déco patterns and buildings in a twenty’s Revival Mission style.

There is a strong cuban presence that can be seen in cafes and in restaurants with typical latin menus.

Coralway is a colourful neighbourhood, ideal for those you prefer a healthy and calm lifestyle: you will be able to attend a yoga class among banyan trees or relax in one of the many holistic center that you’ll find.

Very convenient for its proximity to Little Havana, which you have to visit absolutely.

 

Miami Beach

You say Miami and you think of Miami Beach: sun, white beaches with its characteristic lifeguard watchtowers, young and fit people and luxury cars.

Miami Beach is the carefree soul of the city,  a paradise surrounded by tropical vegetation, as in the best movies.

This neighbourhood is the ideal destination for a seaside holiday, if you like having fun, clubs and dance all night.

Don’t forget to put sunscreen and comfortable clothes in your bag.

 

Downtown

Downtown is Miami’s beating heart, characterized by its museums, shopping malls, hotels, and a skyline full of skyscrapers built by famous architects.

The modern soul of Miami is expressed through the streets of this rich neighbourhood made of open air spaces, sport and musical events reachable through the Metromover, the transport sistemy raised above the city.

Comfort, luxury and services are a must in this neighbourhood that looks at modernity.

 

Coconut Grove

We are in the greenest neighbourhood of Miami, both classy and extravagant, the meeting area of students, creatives, curious and tourists who love local markets.

Founded more than 200 years ago, Coconut Grove is a tropical oasis, in which nature has built in with the urban asset, gifting tourists and its inhabitant with a unique view.

The proximity to the University of Miami in Coral Gables and Key Biscayne has made this neighbourhood a centre of attraction for young people and students that spend their free time between museums and bars and take part in the musical events and festivals that characterise Coconut Grove nights.

Miami: the best places in town

Vitality is the word that best describes the city.

The same vitality that you can feel in exclusive clubs and breathtaking terraces.

Which are the unmissable addresses at the moment?

Take notes, here some of the clubs you can’t miss if you wanna live some days as a true local.

 

Mango’s Tropical Cafe

Mango’s Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive is a true institution in Miami.

Exceptional shows, live performances, latin music, excellent drinks and caribbean flavors all combined in an eccentric location.

In short, fun is assured from lunch time till sunrise in the beating heart of Miami Beach.

Only recommendation: selection at the entrance doesn’t allow sloppy outfits, but we’re sure you won’t have the problem.

 

Area 31

Glamour with a breathtaking view, it’s the perfect place for a cocktail at sunset or a drink later on.

The Area 31 terrace with panoramic view is located on the 16th floor of the Kimpton EPIC Hotel Downtown Miami.

Order the coolest cocktail at the moment and take a deep breath because the skyline from here might leave you breathless.

At last, relax at the pool where you will be able to taste great local food inspired by the ocean.

 

Bleau Bar

Located inside the Fontainebleau Hotel, the Bleau Bar is a meeting place for stars of the show business since the 50’.

Characterised by a cool and vibrant atmosphere you’ll be able to try classic cocktails, discover what’s new and feel like real stars.

 

Komodo

Located in the fancy Brickell neighborhood in Miami, Komodo is a famous restaurant that combines contemporary kitchen from the south-eastern Asia and a typical atmosphere from the south of Florida.

Situated on three levels, it offers a restaurant at the first and second floor.

While at the third floor you’ll find the lounge bar, an intimate location where to finish the evening among cocktails and famous artworks, for example the exclusive decoration inspired by the pop art of famous artists like Mari Kim and Hebru Brantley.

Don’t waste time: to get to Miami you’ll only need a cabin trolley, bathing suits and the right outfit for an unforgettable night.

Miami’s hottest annual events

Art Déco Weekend

For art and vintage lovers, January is the right month to organize a trip to Miami.

Since 43 years, the last week of the month, Ocean Drive hosts the Art Dèco Weekend, a cultural festival with more than 85 free events dedicated to its eclectic style, cultural soul of the city.

Tropical colours and pastel shades decorate the buildings facades and interiors. In this occasion you will be able to breathe an atmosphere of past times by strolling around vintage markets, live music, vintage car expositions and retrò fashion shows.

Watchword: vintage style!

 

Miami open tennis

In March, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova are just a few of the great participants that challenge each other in Florida to win the second Masters 1000 of the season.

The new Hard Rock Stadium turns into a theater in which you will be able to watch the best worldwide tennis, an open air show full of all kinds of events.

Watchword: major sports events.

 

Ultra Music Festival

You can’t live on sports only!

In fact, March is the month of another bit event: the Ultra Music Festival (UMF).

Three days dedicated to electronic music played by the most important artists currently: Alesso, David Guetta, Charlotte De Witte…

In between DJ Sets you will be able to enjoy the best music in an amazing location.

For the lovers of the genre this is an unmissable event!   

Watchword: electronic vibes.

 

Miami Beach Pride

Every year, in April, the LGBTQ community gets together, by involving the whole city in a one of a kind party, with free special events, music and a lot of entertainment.

The annual parade it surely the most known event, but its only one of the many events that take place during the seven days of the manifestation.

Unmissable is also the competition on high heels and the Miami Pride Cruise.

Aim of the event is to get together the members of the community, to celebrate the diversities in peace and harmony without gender distinction.

Watchword: celebrate unicity!

 

Art Basel Miami Beach

Every year in December, the Art community gets together at the Convention Center in Miami.

Art Basel is the most important artistic and cultural event in the occidental world: lots of art galleries ( 268 in 2018) from all over the world expose artworks of thousands of artists.

You will be able to admire paintings, sculptures, installations, photografies and movies from emergent artists or huge masters from the past.

Art Basel is a benchmark for passionate people.

Watchword: Art and Culture.

It looks like Miami conquers every kind of taste in terms of events.

Whether you’re art, sports or music lovers, it doesn’t matter… Miami is yours to enjoy.

Paris – the most famous movie locations

Midnight In Paris (2011)

The most appreciated location is the Restaurant Polidor (41, rue Monsieur Le Prince, metro: Odéon), that’s not a laundromat and it still exists and serves French cuisine every day since 1845. It’s the place where Gil, the main character, convinces Hemingway to take a look at his novel. Apparently, Papa often went to this pub accompanied by writers like Paul Verlaine and James Joyce.

The Da Vinci’s Code (2010)

After the huge, worldwide success of Dan Brown’s book, a real mass phenomenon was spreading in the French capital. People would hunt for the clues told in the book and afterwards in the movie by Ron Howard starring Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon). The most curious site is definitely inside the Saint Sulpice Church (2 Rue Palatine, 75006 Paris), known for the passage of the Rosa Kine, first meridian of the world.

The curiosity towards this column with a brass line crossing in the middle, pushed the leaders of the church to expose a sign with the explanation of its real scientific-astronomic function and that the letters P and S on the small windows stand for Peter and Sulpice, the patron saints of the church, not for the fictional “Sion Priory”.

Amélie (2001) (Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain)

Could you mention Paris without mentioning the flavorful and curious Amélie Poulain? Th tale of simple life in Montmartre, between the Café des Deux Moulins (15 Rue Lepic, angolo con rue Cauchois), where she works, the fruit and vegetable shop Au Marche de La Butte where Mr. Collignon abuses poor Lucien (56, Rue des Trois Frères) and the neighborhood life along Rue Lepic.

If you want to experience her adventure looking for Nino, a mandatory stop is at the subway station La Motte-Picquet-Granelle, where Amélie, with her nameless love, hung up posters that spelt out “Where and When?”

However, the mystery of the man who left his photos on the metro was solved at the Gare de l’Est: the photo booth is inside a room, called Salle de pas perdus.

The Dreamers (2003)

Controversial and full of quotes, Bertolucci’s movie uses Paris as fourth protagonist, with its lively and full of life backgrounds. It was set in spring during the student movements of 1968, living up to the beautiful locations that have remained unchanged. The Cinematheque Francaise, where the young American Matthew (Michael Pitt) studied and met his new crazy friends Théo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green) for the first time, is the Palais de Chaillot – work of the architect Frank Gerry– who you can see in the background of the first scenes, while wandering around the city.

The scene in which they try to break the record in running across the Louvre – with explicit quote of the 1964 movie Bande à part – lowering it by 17 seconds, is a definitely a memorable one. The scene was of course shot inside the most popular Parisian museum.

You can also catch a glimpse of where they lived during their long period of cohabitation: the recognizable entrance of their home is located in Place de Rio De Janeiro.

Paris – different cultures in one city

Paris is like a Babel of history, cultures and arts mix up – often in a bizarre way – among the city arrondissement. However, how to find those curious world spots that were able to create themselves 2some space in the Parisienne world?

Let’s begin to discover these curiosities starting from Place de La Concorde: at 242 of Rue de Rivoli, you can find a super secret and really chic Swedish club, where Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, signed the will that gave life to the Nobel prize. The office has remained the same since 1895 and it can be visited twice a month, on Wednesdays.

These events, clearly not thoroughly advertised, give the opportunity to enjoy a dinner with a view of the Jardin les Tuileries, accompanied by a Swedish menu.

If you want to move from the cold north to an Egyptian atmosphere, you are just six Metro stops away from Passage du Claire (2, place du Caire – 16, rue du Caire – 239, rue Saint-Denis), the oldest covered passage of the city. It hosts uninteresting stores, but it’s worth a visit for the facade that faces Place Du Caire, which is decorated with hieroglyphs and three effigies of goddess Hator, the ultimate goddess of femininity.

This place is full of mystery and curiosity: it was created in the area in which there were the Filles- Dieu convent and it seems that the pavement was made of nuns’ tombstones. It’s interesting how, wit time, it has become a “court of miracles”, where thieves and scammers met up to plan their days, and then meet up again at night with the loot.

Remaining in the heart of the capital, a without doubt curious and romantic stop is the Polish Library (6 Quai d’Orléans, 75004 sull’Île Saint-Louis, the smallest of the river Seine’s natural islands). This very simple building, since 1853, is host to the biggest institution representing Poland abroad. Created in 1832 by immigrants of the strong Russian occupation, today it owns more than 200.000 books and works, some of them are even extremely rare.

Inside this building there are also three other museums, dedicated to the most famous polish artistic figures: Adam Mickiewicz, poet that symbolizes the national unit, Boleslaw Biegas, surrealist and symbolist painter, and obviously Fryedryk Franciszek Chopin, also known by his French name Frédéric François Chopin.

If we move on to the extreme orient, one of the most fascinating places is no doubt the Cinema “La Pagode” (52, Rue de Babylone), which is unfortunately it’s permanently closed but it can be viewed from the outside. In the late 1800s, Japan was very fashionable in the city, so the owner of the department store Le Bon Marché decided to give to his wife an authentic Japanese pagoda.  Its inauguration with the Orchestra of Paris’ Theatre is still remembered today. However, that was not enough his companion and she broke up with him, so he sold her wonderful pagoda. The Chinese embassy started getting interested in the building, but soon realized that the paintings inside were about the Japanese domination towards China. In 1931 it was transformed into a wonderful cinema, with a gracious tearoom in an inside garden. Unfortunately, it closed at the end of 2015.

Paris – the best macarons in town

Trends often change frequently in the kitchen and in bakeries: New York cronuts or liquid nitrogen ice cream. Only one trend seems to never lose followers, especially in Paris: macarons. Small shells of almond powder with a delicate soft stuffing made with the fanciest flavors, often sold in boxes that remind us of those from jewelry stores. It’s because the joy they give you is similar to the one you get when receiving a ring, but unfortunately it ends right away. 

So, if you want to enjoy the pleasure of trying all the best sweets of Paris, we’ll take you to discover some bakeries that have turned this passion into art.

Pierre Hermé (more than one store, the main one is on 18 rue Sainte-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie).

To talk about this pastry and not mention him would be absurd. Heir of a top bakers line, it’s said that he was the one the lead macarons to their worldwide success, gaining the nickname “Picasso of pastry”. Of course, his flavors are the most extravagant: from miso and lemon to Iucuma (a curious Peruvian fruit) and candied ginger. Obviously, the prices are as high as the quality, but it’s totally worth it.

Ladurèe (seven stores in Paris, the main one is on 14 rue de Castiglione).

Their recipe has never changed (since the middle of 20th century), but the flavors are very impressive, especially lately, since former starred chef Claire Heitzler became the international creative director of Ladurèe, and so the seasonality and the quality of the ingredients have become the core of their products. It’s interesting to find out that Ladurèe has stores everywhere, and that all of its macarons are made in Switzerland, “blocked” (during the cooling time after baking) and awakened by the bakery pastry chef. Except for the French and Paris’s ones: those are made in a laboratory just outside the city. So, it’s definitely better to try them while you are in Paris.

Sadaharu Aoki (more than one store, the main one is a boutique on Port-Royal 56 boulevard de Port-Royal).

If the classic fruity and flower flavors bore you and you prefer an oriental twist, this is surely the most interesting place. In this bakery, the famous chef is Japanese: he switches from classic flavors maniacally perfect cooked, to the absolute creativity of the umeboshi (salted Japanese plum) macarons or wasabi-horeseradish macarons. You may also find his creations at fashion events and shows where he is of course highly requested.

Carette (4 Place du Trocadéro 75016).

Very close to the Tour Eiffel, this ancient bakery, opened in 1927 by Jean and Medeleine Carette, has a classic and less sophisticated style than the others. Flavors are those of tradition, with some curious impulses (like the violet flavor), still maintaining a traditional standard. The service is cosy and informal, and the prices are slightly lower than usual (also on the box sets). All of their carte sucré is incredible tasty, but the Délice aux framboise – a very big vanilla macaron filled with crème brûlée, pistachios and fresh raspberries – is a “can’t miss”.

Paris – the best vintage shops

In a city like Paris, having always had kind of a retrò soul, vintage shops flourish like daisies on a 70s blouse. 

While walking around the arrondissement and the covered galleries, you breathe in an old-time air, where the real charm of the city lies. So, between raspberry macarons and bookstands, where can you find the best vintage clothing prices of the city?

But first, it’s important to know that French people give custom names to everything: you will hear thrifts store being called by the names “fripe” or “friperie”, and you can find them in every neighborhood. We chose the best and the most curious/intriguing ones, to arrive back home with a suitcase full of chic and old-time items.

Kilo Shop Marais (69-71 rue de la Verrerie 75004). Half a pound of jeans and a pound of flower shirts. 

Fill up the bags, weigh it all, et voilà, the price is up to the weight.

There are colthes, dresses and trousers for any taste, just pay attention to the labels, because some pieces have a fixed price and they aren’t included in the “weight”.

Mam’zelle Swing (35 bis Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004). Walking around Marais, it’s impossible not to notice this small boutique, having shop windows that beam with a 20s matte rouge lipstick colored shine. Inside, you can find styles and dresses that range from the Roaring Twenties to the 60s: bon ton suits and chic details. A real marvel-wonder for the eyes (less for the wallet) to the people who are keen on such kind of style. 

L’Objet qui Parle (86 Rue des Martyrs, 75018). Who says that the vintage shopping should be just for clothing? In this incredible shop, that you can find around the rues of the always charming Montmartre, you’ll have to have plenty of patience and time, because it’s a the typical place where you can discover real gems, digging through piles of ugly and useless junk. But, right inside that awful sugar bowl, a mirror could be hiding, and although it may be consumed and old, it could be one that caught a young Brigitte Bardot’s intense eye.

Ragtime (23 Rue de l’Échaudé – 75006). Don’t be fooled by the window shop’s kinda trashy look, behind that door, in St. Germain des Près, hides a real treasure. The property owner is Françoise Auguet, she is a true collector (and expert) of art… in materials. Here you can try high fashion pieces, or wrap yourself in a pure silk scarf, letting its story cuddle you. Christian Dior’s tailleur surely doesn’t have the price of a yard sale shirt, but it will be the most memorable item in your whole wardrobe.

Mad Vintage (more than one store, of these the best ones are those found on 66th Rue Saint-Denis, and on 139th Rue Saint-Martin). No knee length dresses, if to you “vintage” means to immerse in the colorful 80s and dare with faux fur and shiny micro-short, you can find what you are looking for in this huge warehouse. The prices are low (the majority of clothes costs around 15€). If you don’t mind wearing used sneakers, this place isn’t lacking in retro design Converse All stars. Maybe you can match a pair with some skinny jeans, even though right now they are back in fashion, so they’re actually more modern than vintage!

Paris – 5 things to do for free

Is Paris an expensive city?  

Yes, well, just like all the major capitals, but it can be lived to the fullest even without spending a lot of money. Full of free museums or charming places to visit, in an exciting and economically fair way. Discovering the city for free will make it all better, and maybe a bit of snobby air will pleasantly be relieved from one of the fanciest cities of the world. 

What can you do for free in the French capital?

  1. Free pass museums on the first Sunday of the month. If you have to plan your trip, you’ll have to consider the first weekend of the month, possibly from October to March, so that you can also include a visit to the Louvre Museum in the offer (normally it costs 15 € per person). Other museums that take part in this initiative are: the Centre Pompidou, the National Eugene Delacroix museum, the Musée D’Orsay, the Musée de L’Orangerie and the Picasso Museum, and a lot of smaller museum as well. In addition, people under the age of 26 can always get in free by showing their ID.
  2. Parks and cemeteries. Obviously, all the public parks are free of charge and definitely wonderful (don’t miss Parc Monceau and the Jardins du Luxembourg are two beloved gems of the city, especially by Parisians), but why not to take a tour around the most famous graves? Here, cemeteries have a high historical value and they often are actual pilgrimage destinations. Indubitably, one of the most famous ones is Père Lachaise, in which names such as Jim Morrison (you won’t have trouble finding his grave, it is the only fenced one), Charles Baudelaire, Frédéric Chopin and Oscar Wilde remain some of the most famous. Make a stop at the Cemetery of MontMartre too. 
  3. Paris from above. No doubt, one of the unmissable things to put at the top of your list is to view the city from a strategic position: it’s truly breathtaking. Which are the best spots?

Of course, the hill of Montmartre (a suggestive neighborhood and a massive church dominate the Ville Lumière), the neighborhood of Belleville, is one of them. Here you can enjoy a view of the Tour Eiffel and certainly the upper floors of the Printemps’ department store.

  1. Discovering Paris by bicycle. Velib is the method of bike sharing that will take you around the city for a low price (approximately 8 € per day) or for free! Signing up for a service is a bit difficult – you have to sign up online and complete the process – but it is free for the first 30 minutes. Therefore, you can hand the bike back within 30 minutes and simply get another one. However, as it’s so cheap, most people avoid the hassle.
  2. How to join a free tour of Paris. There are tours of all kind: at night, around the historical neighborhoods, those dedicated to street art or those to film sets and they are completely free. Just look for “free tour Paris” online, and a whole world will open up for you. Discovering the city with an expert is the most curious and in-depth way to fall even deeper in love with the thousand lights city.

Paris – discovering Batignolle

In the north of France, out of the Paris traffic and its stereotypes, in those suburbs ignored by everyone, a vital and sparkling neighborhood is putting itself in the spotlight: Batignolle, XVII arrondissement, the core of Parisian (and not only) hipster life.

Looking at the history, this neighborhood in the Northwest of the city was one of the most beloved by impressionists, so much that in 1860 some of them founded the Group of Batignolle. They would meet in Cafè Guerbois, on Avenue de Clichy, to drink and debate art and their projects.

Manet chose this place because it was near Hennequin’s art store, where the artist bought material for their paintings.

It still has an old-time charm, but in spite of its historical places and pedestrian streets, it is chic and never pretentious. It is full of shops, cloisters, traditional delis, small ateliers and parks, but it is seen as the most “bobo” neighborhood of Paris. 

What does “bobo” mean? It comes from of the shrinking of Bourgeois-Boheme, characterized by a radical chic and condescending connotation, but here is where you can find the most interesting places. 

You can start from Parc Monceau, which is probably one of the fanciest parks of the city: its weeping willows and the colors mixing in the water reflection will for sure remind you of Monet’s paintings. In fact, this is where Monet got inspiration for his paintings.

If you are nearby on a Saturday, you can go to the fully stocked biological market of Batignolle Batignolle (96 bis rue Lemercier 75017, Paris Métro 13 Brochant) to buy croissants, fruit and delicious natural jam to eat with the very typical baguette. Una “déjeneur sur l’herbe” is certainly the best way to enjoy an amazing day at the park.

A nice walk will lead you to discover the most interesting places: here you can find a very special rue. The passage Geoffroy-Didelot, created in the 1843, is a small coloured street, that preserves the characteristic of an out-of-time village, where you can happily discover how the artists of the Atellier du Passage enjoyed painting the faces of shopkeepers and old inhabitants of the village. 

Not too far, just out of the Passage, you can have a look at the famous Hébertot, previously known as “Theatre des Arts”, a fascinating corner of art and culture, still living on since 1830.

Do you love shopping? In that case you should check out The Rue des Dames, the Rue Legendre, the Rue de Levis, The Place du Docteur Félix Lobligeois and the Square de Batignolles:  here you can find hipster and peculiar shops among informal restaurants and café serving food from all over the word. 

If you want high-level cuisine at affordable prices, try La Fabrique de Bouchons (17 Rue Brochant, 75017 Paris), a small restaurant founded in an old cork factory.  A seasonal, creative and of course, delicious cuisine.

Art in New York

In New York art is everywhere. In the streets, inside museums, in the basements converted in improvised galleries for extraordinary vernissages.
This art enchantment began in the mid-twentieth century, with the opening of iconic museums like MoMa or Guggenheim, and from the 60s onwards New York has become the cradle of modern and contemporary art, from Andy Warhol’s Factory up to Banksy street art. It’s like a widespread cult of beauty that wants to pay homage to the pulsing heart of the city in all of its shades. Art is everywhere.
You just can’t go to the Big Apple and miss the most important museums: beyond the Classics that must top your “to do list”, two locations are inescapable: the New Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image. 
 
New Museum (235 Bowery) will certainly delight all the contemporary art lovers and the architecture enthusiasts: the building alone looks like a pile of messy boxes stacked one on top of the other in precarious equilibrium. 
 
Museum of the Moving Image (6-01 35th Ave, Queens) is located on the east side of the Hudson River, in Astoria, and it’s completely dedicated to video, cinema and animation. It’s interactive, interesting and totally captivating.
 
In New York there’s also a perfect museum for those who aren’t too much into art. The Mmuseumm, placed in Tribeca (4 Cortlandt Alley), is only 3 square meters wide (yeah, it’s not a typo) and can only be accessed by 3 person at a time. It’s built into an industrial lift, and you will always find weird art installations and eccentric pieces.
 
And if you want to discover the city art without leaving your sofa, you can do it with the extraordinary and accurate illustrations by the Italian artist Emiliano Ponzi, who has been one of the main New York storytellers for many major international newspapers. He has taken its soul and has translated it into brilliant pictures.