News on where to stay . . . what to see . . . what to buy . . .
After transforming a handful of out-of-the-way British destinations, hotelier Rocco Forte and designer Olga Polizzi moved on to the big time: Italy. The style-setting siblings recently opened the 130-room Hotel de Russie (9 Via del Babuino; 800/323-7500 or 39-06/328-881; doubles from $400), just off Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Mapplethorpe photos and crisp Italian linens accent the suites; in the spa, updated hydrotherapies riff on ancient Roman bath traditions. The duo has also given Florence's Savoy (7 Piazza della Repubblica; 800/223-6800 or 39-055/27351; doubles from $332) a head-to-toe makeover. In the 107 rooms, Warhol prints of shoes and Johnny Shand-Kydd photos of shapely legs are a subtle reminder that the 19th-century palazzo is owned by the Ferragamos.
where's the beef?
Next time you're in Buenos Aires, give your cholesterol levels a break at the new Ecocafé Aromático, a trattoria that thumbs its nose at Argentina's beef-laden menus. Sure, there's one obligatory steak dish, but this cheery, art-filled café specializes in lighter-than-air Mediterranean food prepared with all-natural ingredients. Though you might be tempted by traditional dishes such as carpaccio or crispy prosciutto pizza, don't miss the squash-stuffed ravioli in curry sauce. The café, near the soccer stadium, was a longtime goal of former soccer star Francesco Durante -- and he definitely scored. Ecocafé Aromático, 4408 Avda. San Isidro; 54-11/4702-0171; dinner for two $50.
get a life (energy)
Indian holistic healing meets cutting-edge American architecture at Dosha, Aveda's just-launched lifestyle salon-cum-ashram in Portland, Oregon. The services -- yoga, hydrotherm massage, organic cooking classes -- and the glass-and-steel space follow Ayurvedic principles. Each floor is said to manifest its own dosha, or elemental life energy. On the way in, every customer gets her doshas tested, so even cooking lessons can bring one's vata, pitta, and kapha into harmonic alignment. Now that's food for thought. Dosha, 2281 N.W. Glisan St.; 503/228-8280.
sweet home petaluma
Attention, shoppers. Petaluma Boulevard North has become California's latest home-design mecca. Bluestone Main (No. 120; 707/765-2024) carries smart rattan furniture, grand birdhouses, and custom-made linens. Slake your hunger for rustic American and European furniture at Chelsea Antiques (No. 148; 707/763-7686) and Sienna (No. 119; 707/763-6088). The romantic mix at Acorn (No. 132; 707/775-2505) includes floral paintings on metal by local artist Martha Rouse Johnson and vintage Italian chandeliers. At Trillium Flowers & Gardens (No. 113; 707/778-6315), things get quirky. Think birdhouses encrusted with tile shards and Mexican and Greek religious icons -- for the garden.
a moroccan fantasy
Ursula Haldimann came to Marrakesh as a tourist from her native Switzerland, fell in love with the medina, and bought the 400-year-old former residence of a silk trader. With her husband, Björn Conerdings, she transformed the palace into the recently opened hotel, Riad Enija. Her goal, she explains, was to "make it 'wow' " while showcasing the beauty of Moroccan culture. Serenity prevails in the nine TV- and telephone-free suites. Riad Enija, 9 Derb Mesfioui; 212-4/440-926, fax 212-4/442-700; doubles from $214.
--Dara Y. Herman
Though pedestrians may grumble about bruised shins, it hasn't stopped the Razor from dominating streets -- and carry-on bags -- around the world. Derived from the kiddie scooters of the 1960's, the Taiwan-made aluminum device folds up as small as a laptop. The only problem: the Razor's so hot that sports stores can't keep it in stock. You might want to head to Manhattan's Upper East Side, where we spotted one savvy entrepreneur selling black-market Razors out of the back of a van. From $100; 800/417-7828 or 714/523-4535.
They've kept you dry in the rain; now they want to keep you warm and cozy in bed. Burberry London has introduced pajamas ($295) that come in a travel sack. For the traveler who likes to coordinate, there's a matching robe ($275) and eye mask ($39). You'll be dreaming in checks. For store information, call 800/284-8480.
manhattan's new flavor
For decades, diners have tried in vain to book tables at Rao's, Frank Pellegrino's impossibly exclusive Italian restaurant in East Harlem. Unfortunately, they won't have much better luck at Baldoria, Frank Jr.'s theater district debut. While not as intimate as his father's joint -- the restaurant is five times the size -- Baldoria has already reached cult status. Expect some of the same dishes and a Rao-ish atmosphere: pressed tin ceilings, red leather booths, and a jukebox. Baldoria, 249 W. 49th St.; 212/582-0460.