Can you eat too much pesto?
After 11 days in Italy, I say no!
John and I just returned from visiting two of our favorite places – Florence and more importantly, Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy.
Cinque Terra literally means “Five Lands,” named for the 5 villages connected by mountain path, boat and railway. This region – including coastline, villages and surrounding hillsides – is a national park and Unesco World Heritage Site.
In 2011 many of the paths connecting the towns were washed away in fierce floods. Some of the paths haven’t been fixed yet though it remains a world destination for hikers and food lovers alike!
Each of the five towns has it’s own unique flavor. Some villages are large, some small. Some have pebbly beaches perfect for families seeking a beach holiday while other villages are so remotely situated among the hillsides that they aren’t accessible by ocean at all.
We began our trip in Cinque Terre, a 3 hour train ride from Florence. I had been there 9 years before on an “eating tour of Liguria.” Yes, I said eating tour. And this tour taught me that my favorite Italian food was from the Ligurian region of Italy. Ligurian fare is lighter than other Italian food and features fish, pasta, focaccia and farinata to name just a few of my favorites.
I found Villa Valentina, luxury travel apartments with touches of home, run by an American who fell in love with an Italian, moved to Italy and had a daughter (named Valentina of course.) Through Paula we booked one of her apartments in Levanto – a city just beyond the 5 villages of Cinque Terre and a perfect homebase for exploring the region.
Paula said that she will offer an evening cruise with dinner for anyone who uses the password “Festoon” when booking their stay with her!
We had farm fresh eggs daily, along with a delivery of the best focaccia bread in the area. Every morning was kind of like a visit from Santa but for foodies. After breakfast we would ride our bikes to the train station, pick a village to explore for the day and off we went.
If you like guide books Rick Steves book on Cinque Terre is a great one. We tore pages out of his book going from town to town but we also gave into simply being in the moment. An easy thing to do in Cinque Terre.
The walking paths wind through vineyards, around narrow cliffs, and along rock formations thousands of years old. Along the way we saw French families with delicious picnics and teenagers listening to music, children running on the path.
Food and drink is the true jewel of Cinque Terra! One way of saying “I’m tired” is “I need a drink NOW!”
Thirst is easily answered by the region’s unique wines. The whites are crisp and the reds light. Nothing is too heavy and is a perfect match for the food.
Here are my tips for food in Liguria:
Farinata is a crepe made from chickpea, oil, water and salt. Sometimes there are toppings, sometimes not. I remembered eating Farinata on my last visit to the region and trying it many times afterwards in the states…only to be disappointed. I was thrilled to eat this traditional Ligurian treat again! Done right it’s so healthy and delicious.
Pesto in Italy is heads above anything else you’ve ever tried at home. I ate it everyday.
Pasta. Yep, and lots of it. The shapes, the sauces, the choices! Lots of vegetarian options too.
So close to the ocean there is every kind of imaginable fresh seafood too.
Here’s the wonderful thing: When you are walking for 8 of the 12 hours you’re awake, everyone can eat pasta and pizza everyday!
The other thing? It’s cheap to eat here. We ate well. Sometimes it was as simple as grabbing a farinata slice, a pizza slice and water on the go. But even when we went to fancy restaurants it was very reasonable by Bay Area standards.
Eats in Cinque Terre
La Mela (Levanto) – A roadside pizzeria by Villa Valentina. Don’t let looks deceive you. La Mela has the best Farinata in the area. They also serve a salad with tuna that is amazing.
Il Pirata – An unexpected gem near the post office.
Taverna Del Capitano – A picturesque seafood spot on the square. Don’t bother with the appetizers or other dishes – the serious seafood plates are the way to go!
After Cinque Terre, we spent a few days in Florence.
Florence is a small city – very easy to explore and the sights are beautiful. I am so grateful they closed the center to cars since the pollution before was unbearable.
One of the highlights for me was listening to Gregorian Chants at San Miniato al Monte, named after the martyr Minias who is thought to have been a Greek merchant or an Armenian prince. Minias left his home making a pilgrimage to Rome in about 250 AD. He arrived in Florence where he took up life as a hermit before being beheaded by Empoeror Decius (245-251 A.D.). Legend has it that after his decapitation he picked up his head, put it back on his shoulders and went to die in his hermit cave on Monte alle Croci. That cave is now the location of the oratory and the church bearing his name.
Visitors can listen to the chants most evenings from 6:30 to 7:00. While it is a hike up the hill (we took a cab), listening to the Gregorian chants while sitting in one of the most beautiful churches in Florence was other worldly.
For the more fashionable, don’t miss the historic retrospectives at the Ferragamo and Gucci museums.
Art lovers, there is a great Picasso exhibit at the Uffizi.
Food in Florence was more erratic but we made sure to have Gelato everyday.
A travel tip: If you are visiting any time other then spring or summer when the weather is perfect, you might consider flying into Pisa instead. Florence has a short runway and they cancel flights all the time. How do I know this? Well, my flight was delayed due to fog and instead of a two-leg trip I’m on a four-leg return. Bummer, yes, but totally worth it.
Remember when a replenishing masque for your hair took the better part of an evening or a Sunday morning? The days when you had to wash your hair, apply the masque, cover with a cap and wander around the house for 30 min?
Who has time for that?! Not me and probably not you either. Let me tell you about some of the most progressive masques on the market – as well as the most friendly to your health and for the earth.
Oribe’s Gold Lust Transformative Masque
What it is – A truly modern formulation that rebuilds each fiber, improves elasticity and fortifies each hair for softness and body. Restores hair with each use.
Why it’s special – This masque works in just one minute to provide benefits. Keep it on hair longer and it just gets better. Why you want it – Dermatologist-tested and formulated without parabens, sulfates or sodium chloride. Color and Keratin treatment safe and provides UV protection for hair. It’s even vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free. Wow!
Secret ingredients – African Baobab, often referred to as the “tree of life,” can live more than 3,000 years. The golden rich oil from this tree’s “super fruit” is rich in antioxidants and contains more Vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than spinach. Baobab Extract is used in the Gold Lust Family to replenish hair to a soft, elastic and youthful state. Mediterranean Cypress – The genus name for Mediterranean Cyprus comes from the Greek word for “immortal.” This extract is a vital anti-aging ingredient in the Gold Lust Bio-Restorative Complex.
Elixer Ultime 24 Karat Indulge Ritual
What it is – A customizable masque with your choice of 4 different oils for shine, protection, nourishment and strengthening.
Why it’s special – You choose the formula you need at any given time. Why you want it – It does its work in under 10 minutes, simply add 2 pumps oil into a quarter size amount of Elixir Ultime Masque, then massage in, wait and rinse.
Secret Ingredients – Maize oil which delivers emollient and anti-oxidant active ingredients for shine. Pracaxi oil brings shine, nourishment and deep conditioning to the hair. Camellia oil helps smooth the hair fiber and argan oil restores strength to the hair and protects it from external aggressors.
What it is – A daily treatment to restore substance, shine, and resiliency. Why it’s special – This light, rinse-able gel doesn’t weigh down hair while doing it’s job of detangling and smoothing.
Why you want it – With daily use, hair becomes stonger and more resilient. It is also styling friendly masque if you battle hair that gets weighed down easily.
Secret ingredients – Masque Densite contains Hyaluronic Acid – a natural mineral which retains up to 1,000 times its weight in moisture, creating a plump, hydrated hair fiber. It also has a special peptide that restores a uniform surface to the cuticle for maximum shine and ceramides to strengthen the hair and prevent breakage.
Kérastase Immersion Nutritive
What it is – This nutrition maximizer erases symptoms of dryness, amplifying nutritional power by nourishing the hair.
Why it’s special – The cool thing with this one is that it goes on dry hair, before you shower. So, no double shower or sink is involved. Just apply a small amount to the lengths of your hair and then leave on for a few minutes before you jump in the shower. Why you want it – It’s great for calming really thick or extremely dry hair and it offers superior detangling.
Secret ingredients – Iris Rhizome extract protects against oxidation and Royal Jelly replenishes the surface of dry hair.
So why a masque? Because your everyday conditioners can only do so much. Everyday conditioners can smooth the cuticle, impart a small amount of moisture, and do a decent job of protecting the hair from heat and sun.
But if you want to better your hair….wear your masque!
Peak Performance: A wall of hair products can accomplish the impossible! I love product. Product supports a stylist’s creations, rebuilds the hair, and sometimes even accomplishes the impossible.
Without a wide array of products our clients hair would be frizzier, flatter and less shiny. Product gives us a lift, holds things in place andcamouflages the sneaky greys that show up along our hairline between color appointments.
At Festoon we curate our product lines based on performance. They have to work and they have to work really well to meet our standards. In order to offer you the best products on the market we test everything. We also educate ourselves every month about new products& technological advances in the industry. There is no shortage of product and there is a process to finding the best. That’s what we do for you.
With so much to choose from, it can be overwhelming. We take the guess work out of it for you. Here’s an analogy for you wine drinkers. I don’t drink wine – it’s an Asian processing thing, my body doesn’t like it. So when I walk into the wine aisle at the market or try to read a wine menu… my eyes glaze over. What’s with all the regional names? The hidden flavor notes? The difference between varietals? It means nothing to me. My husband John on the other hand, has the opposite response. He starts getting excited, thinks about the best pairing for his meal and considers wine an integral part of the dining experience. (He’s Irish by the way!)
When I see a client at the product wall, I imagine myself reading a wine list in total confusion and wonder: Do they know what they want? I need to walk over and help them. There are so many choices of products for different types of hair so let us help you!
Did you know we have 2 shampoos for irritated scalp? We have 4 shampoos for volume. We have 5 different hair oils. 3 Hairsprays. 20conditioners. I could go on and on. “Why?” you may ask. Because for everyone who wants one particular product – say a conditioner – they could have fine, thick, curly, flat, dry, oily, oil at the scalp and dry at the ends, breaking hair, processed hair… and the product they need will be different depending on these qualities.
As we change and get older, hair changes too, just like our skin and bodies. We need different products. And as I get older, I am becoming an expert on this topic! I often recommend Deva no lather shampoobecause hair can benefit from a non-surfactant, no lather shampoo.Color doesn’t fade and all that bubbly lather dries hair out. While this product is intended for curly hair I LEARNED through my daily work that dry hair also really benefits from this product. How do I know this? I have frizzy, hard to manage hair and when I tested this product (remember we test everything?) I became a believer. Bubbles now never touch my hair.
Moral of the story? Your stylist is a sommelier of products.
Talk to your stylist. TELL them what you like and don’t like. Ask for suggestions. Listen, then try something new. What’s the risk? There is none. We believe in our hand selected product line so much that we guarantee your purchase. Even if you’ve used half of it, we’ll credit you half. Who does that these days? We do.
Come explore the range of possibilities!
Stylists do a lot of trimming and reshaping. Since many of our clients are either maintaining a favorite look or in a perpetual state of growing out their hair, our challenge is to create styles that don’t look like an awkward phase between short and long, but rather an inspired look at every phase. When our clients feel good when they leave, we are thrilled.
Here’s a little secret though…cutting off hair and creating dramatic new looks is always exciting and gives a hairdresser a little rush. And there is a twinkle in a client’s eye when they are really serious about a new look. That’s when you know they are ready.
Because we love makeovers at Festoon (see our last newsletter for more reasons why), we are going to start featuring them in the Festoonies section of our Newsletter on a more frequent basis… and we always feature them on our Pinterest and Instagram sites! Check out our Pinterest page especially dedicated to all the great makeoverswe have had the great joy in doing recently.
Our lucky makeover winner, Melanie, a yoga instructor here in the Bay Area, had her new look created by Emily – an inspired stylist with great vision who has been with Festoon for almost 4 years. It is no surprise that Emily created the exact transformation Melanie was looking for. Melanie wanted something that wasn’t going to have to be blow-dried or styled, so Emily gave her an unstructured bob with a lot of layers, and long bangs in the front to really enhance her great jaw-line. And since Melanie has such pretty blue eyes, Emily wanted to make them pop more by making her a little blonder. So Emily addedbright blonde highlights around her face and then painted blonde pieces in the back, for a more natural look.
For styling Emily used just a little of Oribe’s Crème for Style, and someDavines Sea Salt Spray at the end when it was dry. And to finish Melanie’s new look our makeup artist, Sarah, focused on accentuating Melanie’s natural beauty. She evened out her complexion using BeccaStick Foundation and setting it with Becca Mineral Powder Foundation. By using neutral pinks on her lips and cheeks, she was able to play up Melanie’s blue eyes with bronzy brown shadows and a slightly winged liner.
We think Melanie’s new look is perfect for her lifestyle and frames her face beautifully!
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy
But I say it’s time to consider it!
People respond to change differently. Some of our clients are Change Addicts, others Change Averse. As a stylist I consider the emotional motivation behind the change when consulting with my clients. I ask questions like “Have you had short hair before?” “How many times have you been a redhead?” “What is it that you love about the picture your showing me?”
It’s important to know why someone wants to change their hairstyle, and what they are really looking to change. When people are in the habit of changing their look, then it’s an easy decision. When people are emotionally attached to making a change because of a life experience…we go for it. If people are unsure…we tread lightly.
There are a few absolutes I’ve learned while doing makeovers through the years: When a blonde thinks she wants to be a brunette, we say no. We leave golden highlights in the newly brunette color. Why? Because we’ve had too many ex-blondes cry in our chairs after going too dark! Now we know it is ALWAYS the right decision to darken slowly and leave a familiar brightness while they adjust to the darker color.
Here’s a LINK ON TUMBLR for more thoughts on change.
The When, Why & How of Changing your Hair According to Melissa:
*When you wear your hair in a ponytail everyday
*When you realize your hair looks the same as it did in your high school yearbook
*When the compliments stop
*When your friends start suggesting “their” hairdresser
*When you start a new job, begin a new school year, or have an ugly breakup
*You wear your hair everyday – around your face!
*Your face changes, change your hair
*Ask your friends, your hairdresser, your partner when they liked your hair the most
*Look at our Pinterest page and see what inspires you!
*Go slowly and work your way to the long or short (light or dark) of it
*Go quickly and surprise your friends and family
I’m no stranger to change myself. I love change! I’ve permed, been blonde, red and grey (terrible color on me) and yes, I’ve made a lot of bad choices. AND I’ve been happily surprised more times than I can count. Either way, I look at everything a little differently when I am brave enough to take a risk and go for change.
Go on, give it a try! Submit a current photo of a friend, family member or yourself to win a complimentary Festoon Makeover! Include a statement on the “why” and “how”. We will accept entries up until andpick the winner on August 1st. Then stay tuned for the big reveal in our mid-August Newsletter. Submissions may be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.