Monthly Archives

July 2015

Posted on July 29, 2015

My Sicilian Straw Coffa Bag 

Bags/ Featured/ Italy/ Romantique
Mingling with the carabinieri in Palermo and my Sicilian straw bag

Mingling with the carabinieri in Palermo and my Sicilian straw bag

So what’s the most beautiful souvenir I brought home from Sicily? Without a doubt, its the richly decorated straw “coffa” bag. This quintessentially Sicilian straw basket is handmade by local artisans, replete with rich, decorative elements of Sicilian folklore such as pom poms, mirrors, bells, and metallic lions heads similar to those that adorn many Sicilian doorways.

I first spotted the “coffa” baskets back in 2012, before I’d even set foot in their homeland. Sicilian designer duo Dolce & Gabbana paid homage to their origins with a summer collection dedicated to all things Sicilian: The opulently adorned straw bags caught my eye but the prohibitive price tag prevented me from indulging.

Sicily bag dolce gabbana

 

Fast forward to Sicily summer 2015: Mr Romantique and I were strolling around Palermo on our last day of the holiday. In the midday heat, we were enjoying the markets, chatting with local traders and struck up a rapport with a gentleman who told us of a local coffa bag craftsman – Luigi. He took us to meet him, and I was swept off my feet by these wonderful creations, lovingly manufactured and decorated by this 82 year old artisan. The intricate skill of making these bags has been passed down through his family for generations. In a world of mass produced, disposable consumer goods, the skill has become much rarer but fortunately Luigi keeps it alive.

Coffa straw bag Sicilian

The bag’s embellishments reflect typical Sicilian folklore: Bright coloured pom poms, predominately in red & yellow, the colours of the Sicilian flag, depictions of lemons, oranges and the Sicilian cart with the characteristic trapezoidal shapes and geometrical patterns typical of the Palermo area.

Coffa straw bag Sicilian

I’ve fallen head over heels in love with these special bags. So much so, that I want to spread them all over the world whilst supporting the local family who are keeping this artform alive.

In September 2015, we launched our web boutique. Go to sicilybag.com to order one of these stunning bags. Each bag is unique. No two designs are ever the same. Not only are they impossbly chic, but by purchasing one of these gems you ensure the survival of this age-old, fading craft.

 

Coffa straw bag Sicilian

I’m wearing a blue striped cotton summer dress by Max & Co, white broderie anglaise sneakers by Superga, sunglasses by Prada and my Sicilian coffa bag.

Sicilian cart

Sicilian cart

Sicily Bag Straw Coffa basket

One of the stunning designs of our straw coffa bags you can purchase. They perfectly represent the creativity and sense of joy of the Sicilian people.

Sicily Bag Straw Coffa basket

A richly embellished Sicily bag in gold.

Sicily Bag Straw Coffa basket

 

The bags come in three sizes: Grande (large), Medio (medium) and piccolo (small). This is a medium bag, richly adorned with pom poms, metal buttons and the typical graphic designs of the Sicilian carts of the Palermo area. The predominant colours of red and yellow represent the Sicilian flag.

 

ORDER NOW on

Sicilybag.com

Posted on July 21, 2015

Jackie Oh 60s Dress

Dresses/ Featured/ Icons/ Romantique

Jackie Kennedy 60s Dress Millie Mackintosh

Jackie Kennedy’s francophile sense of style is legendary and still being copied today! I’m not ashamed to say that I’m one of those copy cats: Monotone block colours, boxy jackets, straight shift dresses and relaxed riviera style on holiday epitomised the Jackie style and most of these items are represented in my wardrobe.

The other day, I perused TK Maxx and saw this gorgoues sixties dress which screamed “Mad Men” and Jackie. A beautifully tailored shift dress, weaved in a gorgeous emerald green and mustard yellow boucle tweed, all colours that are very much part of the new breath taking Autumn / winter 2016 collection as seen at Prada and Miu Miu.

Jackie Kennedy 60s Dress Millie Mackintosh

I’m so happy to see that the 60s fashion trend, initiated with the Mad Men series, shows no sign of abating. Seldom has fashion looked so flattering. The tailoring, the colours, the cuts, the details: Let this trend never stop!

I’m wearing:

  • Kitten heels by Logan
  • Printed boucle tweed shift dress by Millie MackIntosh at TK Maxx
  • Embroidered beige floral handbag by Dolce & Gabbana
Jackie Kennedy printed shift dress

Jackie Kennedy in one of her iconic shift dresses

Jackie Kennedy 60s Dress Millie Mackintosh Floral embroidered dolce gabbana handbag

Prada Rready-to-wear collection AW 2015/2016

Prada Rready-to-wear collection AW 2015/2016

Posted on July 13, 2015

5 reasons to visit Palermo

Cuisine/ Featured/ Italy/ Romantique
The Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo

The Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo

1. Food

There are two Italian sayings relating to Sicilian food: “You haven’t eaten lemons until you’ve eaten them in Sicily” and “You haven’t tasted Cannoli until you’ve had one in Palermo.” Sicilian food is richer and even tastier than in the rest of Italy. And Palermo is the capital of Sicilian food. I loved the unassuming Trattoria “Da Pino”, where the owner tells you that he is the menu and where you can choose from a selection of authentic dishes served with a warm smile.

Tip: For good street food, observe where the locals are queuing. Sicilians are very fussy with food and only accept the freshest ingredients.

Da Pino Trattoria Palermo

spaghetti sardines sicilian Trattoria Da Pino

2. Magic of forgotten splendour

Palermo is a captivating city of glaring contradictions: Spotlessly restored grand palaces stand side by side with dilapidated historic buildings, quietly crumbling away.

Sicily’s history is endless, there isn’t a single dominant culture that hasn’t left some indelible mark on the strategically located Mediterranean island: Greeks, Romans, German tribes, Arabs, just to name a few. Sicily is struggling with the upkeep of all these edifices: 228 buildings are in an alarming state and locals are calling for a governmental intervention to help maintaining Palermo’s “Centro Storico”. When you stroll through Palermo’s markets and squares, you can almost hear the stories of forgotten grandeur, battles for dominance whispering from the Unesco heritage sites.

The Fontana de la Vergogna in Palermo means Fountain of shame because a lot of it's marble nymphs are naked. An extraordinary piece of art.

The Fontana de la Vergogna in Palermo means Fountain of shame because a lot of it’s marble nymphs are naked. An extraordinary piece of art.

A thrown out sofa in Palermo centro

3. Shopping

Via Roma and Via Ruggero Setimo are Palermo’s main and most elegant shopping streets. A sheer endless boulevard of high-end fashion stores exhibiting the crème de la crème of powerful Italian fashion houses. Mid-priced fashion brands such as Max & Co are cheaper in Sicily than in the rest of Italy. You’ll also find precious jewellery and enchanting little book and craft stores which don’t belong to big retail chains.

My favourite shop in Palermo!

My favourite shop in Palermo!

4. Beaches!

Just 15 min from the historic centre, Mondello beach invites the exhausted city traveller to rest and relax on the sandy white beach whilst enjoying one of Palermo’s best seafood restaurants.

Mondello Beach Palermo

5. Independant Hotels and B&Bs

Palermo boasts Sicily’s best independent boutique Hotels and B&Bs. Our charming B&B in Richard Wagner Street, near Via Roma in the Centro Storico, was the highlight of the trip. Central but quiet, with tastefully decorated bedrooms, a huge terrace overlooking Palermo and a fantastic host serving breakfast on the private terrace, replete with home-made jams. Living la Dolce Vita! Inbox me for the name and details if you’re interested to stay there (don’t want to give away that little gem)!

Palermo B&B Richard Wagner

Palermo Road

Posted on July 10, 2015

Sicily’s Hidden Jewel – Cefalu

Featured/ Italy/ Romantique

I heart Sicilia sign

Last year, we spent our holiday in Sicily’s East (Taormina and Messina) . We decided that this island is so rich in culture and things to see, that we needed to return! Just like last summer,  Sicily impressed us in all it’s decadent opulence, mouth watering but rather heavy cuisine and it’s blend of rich Arab, Spanish, Byzantine, Greek and Norman culture.

First up on our little road trip was Cefalu. A charming historic fishing town offering all ingredients to a quintessential Italian holiday: Gelato coloured houses, medieval alleys, stunning historic places,  beautiful beaches and plenty of sunshine! End of June is an ideal time to go: Italian holiday season has not started yet so the town isn’t overrun with tourists!  The weather is warm and sunny without being unbearable. The town is relatively small, so if you travel around, you may find that 3 days are more than enough to explore this little gem.

Highlights:

Romantique and Rebel, Cefalu, Sicily

Towering over the town is the Duomo, a Norman cathedral built in 1131. Inside, you’ll find lovingly decorated mosaics crafted by Byzantine artists.

Cefalu street style romantique

I’m wearing shorts by Gap, jumper by Antoni & Alison, shoes by Superga and little brown crossbody bag by Moschino.

A rocky path winds along the shore below the city’s sea facing walls, and it is quite an adventure to clamber along and explore!

Cefalu panorama

Picturesque Cefalu is a 1.5 car ride away from Palermo.

Romantique Cefalu

The long stretch of sandy beach paired with the centro storico just a stone throw away make Cefalu a must-see in Sicily!

Byzantine mosaic cefaul

Byzantine mosaic in Cefalu. The tiny squares, which are crafted in a painstaking process, are a stunning example of Sicily’s Norman-Arab-Byzantine style.

Little square in Cefalu

Little square in Cefalu’s historic centre. Perfect for sipping on a caffè macchiato whilst watching the world go by.

 

Posted on July 5, 2015

Our mum’s Top 5 Anti-Ageing Tips

Accessoires/ Featured/ Lifestyle/ Rebel/ Romantique

 

Advanced style miu miu sunglasses smu 10 n Castellmare di Golfo

Our mum in Castellmar di Golfo in Sicily,

Mummy Romantique and Rebel celebrated her 64th birthday in Sicily a week ago. I’m proud of our mum as I think she looks fantastic and most of all, she has to right attitude to life. Like most mums, she’s a source of wisdom and knowledge to us.

So what are her secrets to look and feel so good at 64? Here she shares with us her Top 5 Tips on how to age gracefully!

1. A Healthy attitude to Life!

See life positivly! Yes this sounds like a worn out cliche but holds very true. Live your life responsibly but at the same time, don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy your life, go on holiday, meet new people and discover new places, be open minded.

2. Good Skincare Regime

My skin care routine includes using a serum, day cream, night cream and eye cream, all specifically made for the needs of my dry skin. Products don’t have to be expensive. I like Nivea and Olay, try different brands and see how your skin reacts to it. Shake up your product routine to give your skin the chance to respond to new ingredients. Last but not least, never forget to take your make-up off. For cleansing, I use the Philips Visapure facial cleanser.

3. Less is more

When it comes to decorative make up, less is more. I don’t bother with elaborate eye makeup anymore. Eyeshadow only accentuates fine lines, I prefer using a shadow stick (e.g. Laura Mercier or Kiko)  to emphasize the eye, I curl my eyelashes and use mascara, that’s the eyes done. As skin starts to become more uneven as we age, I use a primer and a light makeup to cover this. My hero product in summer is the Kanebo Silky bronze compact make-up. It provides a natural coverage and contains a high SPF.

Clinique chubby sticks give lips an easy tint during the day. For the evening or for days when I feel like a bold lip, I use Tom Ford lipstick “Cherry Lush” or Chanel’s “Dialogue”.

Italian life style: Miu Miu Sunglasses SMU 10N with pink glasses and a pistachio granita.

Italian life style: Miu Miu Sunglasses SMU 10N with pink glasses and a pistachio granita.

4. Nourish your body

Eat healthily without denying yourself enjoyable treats such as coffee, a glass of wine or a piece of cake. Avoid too much sugar and bad fats but don’t stress yourself too much if you do find yourself overindulging from time to time, the world won’t fall apart!

5. Enjoy style, not fashion

Don’t run after the latest trends but find your own style in which you feel comfortable. Finding your own style takes time so try out different pieces and stick with the ones which represent you.

For example,  I love floral pattern but they don’t suit me. Clean, classic shapes and neutral colours look best on me. That’s my signature style and I hardly deviate from it.

advanced style sicily

 

Our mum is wearing:

Chocolate brown jersey dress with pleats by Max & Co. White sandals by Prada Sport. Tote bag by Lamarthe.

Advanced Street style Sicily

Advanced street style Sicily. The birthday girl is wearing:

  • Gingham trousers by Gant
  • Sandals by AGL Attilio Giusti Leombruni
  • Black top with boat neck by H&M
  • Tote bag by Lamarthe
  • Glasses by Gucci

Sicily castellmar di golfo

Mummy Romantique is wearing baroque earrings bought in Catania, Sicily. Glasses by Gucci. My banana earrings are by N2 by Les Nereides Paris.

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