The way we travel and why it matters
Because of our multi-cultural origins, travel is a priority. For us, the experiences gained through travel are essential in building cultural awareness, understanding different lifestyle philosophies and remaining connected to our international roots. Even though we come from two different backgrounds, our approach to travel has always aligned; we want the local experience.
Our latest travels took us to Serbia (for our wedding…more on that in a later post) and Italy. Belgrade is easily one of our favorite European capitals for a number of reasons, including my own cultural roots. Due to their resilience, Serbians are feisty people, and this resonates in the culture. This can also be felt in the Berlin-esque ambiance of the city, defined by the emerging and alternative design scene and the trendy bars and restaurants all over the historic city. As connoisseurs of design, Square Nine, the only 5-star hotel in Belgrade, was a must-do for us. As frequent dwellers of the city that feels more like a home than a getaway, we rarely get to treat ourselves to hotel experiences. For the right occasion (our wedding), we decided to make an exception. Though the hotel is infused with foreign elements (Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld who incorporated North American and Danish vintage pieces with an overall midcentury design motif), the execution of the project was perfect. In one of the few areas left in the city center for new construction, he respected the already existing architecture surrounding the hotel and blended it through a contemporary design with modern and historical touches. Quite a success if you ask most locals. Not to mention that the midcentury-styled bar with its lush fabrics, bronze, stone and wood elements has many thirst-quenching options, not least of all, the very wide-ranging selection of local wines, a trend that has been on the rise in the Balkans.
With the growing wine culture in Serbia, we wanted to visit a local winery for some time. Our favorite wine comes from the Aleksandrovic Winery, located in the Oplenac region of central Serbia. For some reason, our previous stays in Serbia had not allowed the time to explore this region, but we finally made it this time around. The history of wine dates back centuries in the Balkans and seems to be a lost art that has been revived. Once renowned through all of Europe, wines of the Balkans faced decades of difficulties, resulting in minimal distribution. In recent years, there has been a wave of change and a larger international interest in understanding the complexity of the grape varieties found in the region. The Aleksandrovic Winery is the largest private winery in Serbia, recognized for its rich and complex wines. We spent the afternoon in a pure sensory experience, tasting notable wines Aleksandrovic has to offer, perfectly paired with a traditional, gourmet Serbian 3-course meal, with the backdrop of the rolling green vegetal hills of the winery. The small, unassuming village of Vinča has much to offer its visitors indeed.
One sensory experience led us to another.
The sole purpose for our time in Rome was to relax, unwind, and of course, eat. Having already visited this beautiful capital, the objective was to find the most calming, local oasis possible. After a bit of research, we found MyNavona, the perfect b&b-esque accommodation designed by local architects. Situated in an ancient Roman building in the center of the city, the design is clean and simplistic and incorporates plenty of natural materials, highlighted by an immense amount of natural light. It is the attention to details that is really exceptional here. From a design standpoint, the Herringbone wood floors, natural color palette, and carefully selected linens blend decadence with simplicity, creating a pure sanctuary for travelers.
Aside from our wedding, the highlight of the trip was our divine cooking class experience with Roman Chef Andrea Consoli. Food being a pillar of Italian culture, our chef explained the evolution of Roman cuisine and the importance of local and seasonal products, something we personally try to live by at home. Our love of Italian food and history brought us to the quintessential culinary experience in Italy, which led to our unforgettable encounter with the chef. The undeniable bond created was the most unexpectedly pleasant surprise imaginable. But they do say that food has a way of connecting people!
In our lifestyle, local everything is truly a virtue for us. Making that connection in our travels is so gratifying and enlightening. Experiencing local culture and making human connections allows one to appreciate the way others live and what impacts lifestyle choices. This is the concrete foundation of what we are creating with Maredi. and our approach to design.