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A SUBLIME SICILIAN ADVENTURE – AGRIGENTO AND BEYOND

James Andrew, Temple of Concord, Agrigento

James Andrew, Temple of Concord, Agrigento

Agrigento was a most breathtaking drive from Palermo, particularly because our scenic route was laid out by Maria Carolina Castellucci who was invaluable in organizing so much of our trip!

Our hotel, Villa Athena, is located right at the Valle dei Templi park, giving it tremendous views any time, day or night. The Hotel is an old manor house and could be rather fab with a proper refurbishment – I immediately had the room emptied of most of its furniture and was much happier with less clutter. The cuisine was so sublime and the staff very helpful!

Relatively contemporary sculpture by Igor Mitoraj compliment the ruins at Agrigento.

Relatively contemporary sculpture by Igor Mitoraj compliment the ruins at Agrigento.

Hotel Villa Athena was the perfect spot from which to explore Valle dei Temple. We really took our time to explore every inch of these ravishing ruins. The 5th and 6th century BC temples here were dedicated to Olympian Zeus, Heracles, Concord and Hera. Needless to say, it is quite something to be amidst so much history.

The proximity of the hotel made it an easy thing to have a leisurely breakfast, explore the ruins, come back for a relaxing lunch and head out again. Dinner provided views of the Temple of Concord all lit up at night after the most sensational sunset.

The next day we were off at dawn – en route to Noto with a few stops along the way. Our impossibly chic friend Antonio Sersale recommended that we visit Piazza Armerina and particularly the 4th century Villa del Casale. Every room of the estate is decorated with magnificent mosaic floors. A flood in the 12th century buried the villa in mud, preserving the mosaic floors until they were rediscovered seven centuries later.

Villa del Casale- mosaic detail

Villa del Casale- mosaic detail

While we visited with the Marchesa di Spedalotto she suggested we stop in on her son Nicholas Paterno di Spedalotto who has an olive grove, Domus Olivae. We are so thrilled we did! We had a delightful time with Nicholas and his wife and were given a tour of the manor house they have restored so perfectly. His award winning virgin olive oil, Tondo Olive Oil, is certainly the most delicious I have ever tasted. We can’t wait to return.

Nicholas Paterno di Spedalotto's Domus Olivae

Nicholas Paterno di Spedalotto’s Domus Olivae

Next stop: the Jacques Garcia Resort, Noto.

For my exploration of Valle del Templi I am sporting my Lock & Co straw panama hat, Tom Ford era Yves Saint Laurent black cotton poplin banded collar safari shirt, white cotton shorts, a Kiel James Patrick belt, vintage Rolex, Louboutin sandal espadrilles and my fragrance is Tom Ford Neroli Portofino.

A SUBLIME SICILIAN ADVENTURE – PALERMO

james Andrew Grand Hotel Villa Igiea

james Andrew Grand Hotel Villa Igiea

Palermo was the first stop on our Sicilian adventure, and I was quite pleased that we were able to tour nearly all of the palazzos we had on our list!

Certainly at the top of said list was the exotic Chinoiserie fantasy, Palazzo Cinese, an absolutely delicious example of 18th century taste for the exotic and all things Eastern.

Palazzo Cinese

Palazzo Cinese

Palazzo Cinese ceiling detail

Palazzo Cinese ceiling detail – click to enlarge

Palazzo Cinese interior detail

Palazzo Cinese interior detail – click to enlarge

James Andrew Palazzo Cinese exterior

James Andrew Palazzo Cinese exterior

Another dream realized, was our visit to Palazzo Valguarnera-Gangi, which you may recall provided much of the backdrop for Visconti’s masterpiece, Il Gattopardo. It was also captured in several iconic photos by Slim Aarons. There we were received by the ravishing Princess Carine Vanni Mantegna who gave us a tremendous tour of the Palazzo and a marvelous lesson in its history. Sadly, no photos were allowed. I did go prepared just in case – with leopard espadrilles no less, to be photographed in the beautiful ballroom there. But Alas.

Another highlight was Palazzo Mirto – a nobleman’s mansion preserved with its original furnishings. Think: a Palerm version of New York’s Frick. The 18th century palazzo was lived in by its last heir until 1980. It was interesting to see that some of the walls had been upholstered in silk damask which had disintegrated over the years revealing original painted frescoes underneath.

Palazzo Mirto – interior detail

Palazzo Mirto – interior detail – click to enlarge

Another palazzo of note was del Normanni with its fascinating Arab-Norman architecture.

When traveling, one must also allow time to wander and get lost. Often one stumbles upon some real gems, which is an easy thing in Sicily.

Our very favorite restaurant in Palermo was certainly Lo Scudiero, an old school establishment serving Sicilian delights which we asked to be paired with the best Sicilian wines. Bliss!

Next stop Agrigiento!

For our last dinner in Palermo we dined al fresco on the terrace at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, a rather fabulous farewell to Palermo!

Dressed for dinner in a Tom Ford linen silk floral dinner jacket, black linen pants, white cotton shirt, fushcia silk pocket square, fuschia ikat velvet slippers, shell cuff links with pink tourmalines, Cartier Tank Divan watch, black suede espadrilles, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Neroli Portofino.

MAVENS COVE, LE SIRENUSE MIAMI, AND THE SURF CLUB

James Andrew, Miami

James Andrew, Miami

It was our great pleasure to stay at the iconic Le Sirenuse in Positano along the Amalfi coast some years ago. While there, we met the impossibly chic owners, Antonio and Carla Sersale – they simply get everything right. When we heard that they were opening a restaurant/bar/outpost in Miami at The Surf Club Miami Beach – it instantly made the top of our list to visit. Well, I’m now very pleased to say that they’ve once again fulfilled every expectation! Le Sirenuse Miami captures all the old world elegance and glamor of The Surf Club re-interpreted with a modern sensibility. I’d say it is the chicest spot in town, with the most delicious cuisine, and superb Champagne bar. Bravo!

Le Sirenuse Miami

Le Sirenuse Miami

Le Sirenuse Miami

Le Sirenuse Miami

Le Sirenuse Miami

Le Sirenuse Miami at the Surf Club

Needless to say, on our next trip to Miami we’ll certainly be staying at The Surf Club Miami Beach and can’t wait to dine again at Le Sirenuse Miami and enjoy a few cocktails at the Champagne Bar!

For our recent getaway I wanted an ensemble that was casual yet elegant – enter my friends at Mavens Cove who provided me with the most perfect Uxmal by Manchester white linen shirt. Founded in Monterrey Mexico in 1939 by Espiridion Canavati, they combine the best aspects of English and Mexican craftsmanship – a contemporary take on the classic guayabera with a slimmer fit. Maven Coves’ motto “dress for the journey” certainly resonates with me – and this shirt was perfection for an evening out in Miami at a place like Le Sirenuse. I paired this with Tom Ford silk linen floral print pants, silk blue brocade tasseled slippers, and a Cartier Tank Divan watch. My fragrance was Tom Ford Mandarino di Amalfi – rather fitting!