Christopher Petkanas’s article “Tour de Provence” was a delight. His descriptions of the region and its native cuisine were beautifully written (I could almost taste fassum, the cabbage dish with its “final dusting of nutmeg and Parmesan,” even though I’ve never tried anything like it), and his quest to find the ingredients he is so passionate about was equally inspiring.
—Ben Randolph, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Coming Back to Cartagena
I read Oliver Schwaner-Albright’s story “Cartagena Lights Up” with mixed emotions. When I lived in the city as a child, from 1958 to 1967, it was a different place— “undiscovered” except for the cruise ships that would dock for a day of shopping. Our family was part of a small group of expatriates, and my brothers and I went to the Colegio Jorge Washington school with children of well-heeled Colombian families who wanted them to learn English. The famed Hotel Santa Clara was a hospital then, and I learned to swim at the Hotel Caribe—once the nicest spot in town (it has since become a little worse for the wear). For each of us, Cartagena was a city of contrasts—the very poor and the very well-to-do; the historic neighborhoods and the burgeoning ones. My husband and I returned last year. At La Vitrola restaurant the band sang “Cartagena contigo.” The past and present blended in that moment for me.
—Elisabeth Howard Miller, Flat Rock, N.C.
Europe at All Costs
I was pleased to see that T+L took a stab at making European countries more affordable in the May issue. That said, many pieces made it seem impossible to be mindful of your wallet once you’ve crossed the pond. There is hope, though. On my most recent trip to France, it was challenging to vacation on the weak dollar, but I used the tactics suggested in “Europe for Less.” I rented an apartment, used mass transit, and visited museums on free-admission days.
—Emily Tennyson, Gross Pointe Farms, Mich.
You have to try a lot of sandwiches in Europe to find a truly great one, so I thank Anya von Bremzen for doing the work for us. Her discriminating tips in “Europe’s Best Sandwiches” tempt me to visit each city just to stop by the various bakeries.
—Catherine Smith, Los Angeles, Calif.
T+L’s City Guides
The new T+L City Guide pullouts are very useful. I recently moved to the Washington, D.C., area and I don’t leave the house without the latest version. It has great suggestions for where to eat and shop when exploring the city. I look forward to future editions.
—Marie Gonzales, Bethesda, MD.
Reader’s Find: Italy
On our last trip to Tuscany, my wife and I stayed at Antico Casale di Scansano, a beautifully renovated farmhouse two hours from Rome. When we arrived late at night, the chef was still up, and he fixed us the first of many delicious meals. We never saw a menu—we just learned to trust his instincts in the kitchen. The property also has an equestrian center, so we ventured out with guide Lidia on horseback through vineyards, ancient ruins, and the Tuscan countryside. The hotel also offers winery tours and cooking classes. Rooms are beautifully furnished and have especially comfortable beds. The staff was invisible, yet everything was consistently spotless. —Ed Jordan, Arlington Heights, Ill.