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Q&A with Director Maria Sole Tognazzi

Maria Sole Tognazzi

Can a nitpicky hotel inspector ever find fulfillment? That’s the question of Viaggio Sola (I Travel Alone), the new film by Italian director Maria Sole Tognazzi. The film, which just picked up several nominations for Italy's Donatello Awards (the country's equivalent of the Oscars) will be showing at Lincoln Center as part of Open Road: New Italian Cinema, which runs from June 6-12.

Here, she offers T+L a sneak preview.

What’s the plot?
“A Leading Hotels of the World inspector (played by Margherita Buy) arrives incognito at glamorous resorts: the Puli Hotel & Spa ($$$), in Shanghai; Switzerland’s Gstaad Palace ($$$$); the Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa ($$$), in Italy.”

What did you learn about that profession?
“They work like characters on CSI: hunting for dirt with white gloves, testing the temperature of room-service coffee, ensuring that the time is synced on TV and radio. Only at the end of the journey can they reveal their true identity.”

Do you have any travel essentials?
“My Rolex, set to the time in Rome. It’s been with me since I was fifteen.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow on New York City Pizza (Good) and Paris Concierges (Bad)

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Sure, she’s in the summer’s biggest blockbuster, is on the cover of this week’s EW, and was just named the world’s most beautiful woman by People. But what Gwyneth Paltrow wants to talk about right now is travel guides—specifically, the ones she’s created for her lifestyle brand, GOOP. Yesterday she was promoting the GOOP app at New York’s Apple store in SoHo with Jessica Seinfeld; before they took the stage, I had a chat with her, travel editor-to-travel editor.

Turns out Gwyneth started these city guides for herself. “I’m a Libra,” she said, “I can’t make up my mind about anything.” Now she can just open the GOOP app for her own highly curated list of restaurants, shops, bars, hotels, and more in New York, L.A., and London. “I find them very helpful,” she said, “even though I made them.”

And what does it take to get the Gwyneth stamp of approval? “Quality,” she says, “which could be a $2 taco. It has to be worth going out of your way for.” In New York, only 13 hotels make the cut: well-known places like the Trump SoHo, but also lesser-known spots like the Inn at Irving Place, which doesn’t even have a sign. And the NYC guide has a separate section for pizza, which Gwyneth loves. (A couple of her picks, like Di Fara and Co., get the T+L approval stamp, too.) She’s personally been to “almost” every place in each guide, and if she hasn’t, at least three of her most trusted friends have to have given their thumbs up.

GOOP’s Paris guide is coming out next, and Gwyneth is excited to direct people away from hotel concierge recommendations, which she sees as a shady business. “Paris is the worst kickback city,” she said. “I feel so bad when people say they’ve saved up but gone somewhere terrible. It’s such a nice thing to say ‘this is where you should go.’”

So will we see the GOOP app in any upcoming movies—maybe Tony Stark using it in Iron Man 4? “I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “I don’t think so. Wouldn’t it be weird if I was in a movie referencing my own product?”

Photo by Rich Beattie

Novelist Patrizia Chen's Tour of Todi, Italy

Patrizia Chen on Todi, Italy

Stay: I send out-of-town guests to the Relais Todini (Frazione Collevalenza $$), a 14th-century manor. The view from the swimming pool stretches for miles. Equally pastoral: Tenuta di Canonica (75 Località Canonica $$), in a former watchtower.

Shop: Daniele Parasecolo (1 Via S. Maria) is one of Todi’s last remaining traditional wood inlayers—his panels are as intricate as paintings. You’ll find elegant coral and cameos at Arte del Corallo (11 Corso Cavour; 39-075/894-4473). Nearby, Marco Cianini (39 Via Giacomo Matteotti; 39-349/505-2195) makes exquisite handmade shoes. Don’t ask him to copy your old pair—he needs to create!

Eat: When hunger interferes with my shopping, I head to La Cantina del Mercataccio (1 Via del Mercato Vecchio; 39-338/246-2587) for a plate of strigoli al tartufo, pasta with fresh tomato, guanciale, and black truffles. At gelateria Bar Pianegiani (40 Corso Camillo Benso Cavour), I order one scoop of fig and walnut and another of chocolate, with plenty of whipped cream.

Do: A quick drive north of town, 513-year-old majolica ceramics company U. Grazia (181 Via Tiberina, Deruta) holds three-day painting and glazing courses. What’s better than a few pampered days in Todi, learning one of the most ancient Italian arts, then realizing you can take it with you?

Photo by Ben Mostyn

Martha Stewart's Travel Beauty Bag

Martha Stewart's beauty bag

The domestic doyenne and author of this month’s Living the Good Long Life (Random House; $28) reveals her carry-on arsenal.

Clé de Peau Beauté Refining Fluid Foundation ($120). “The best I’ve found.”

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($146).Always use it pre-makeup.”

Susan Ciminelli Algae Deep Cleanse ($65). “Feels so fresh!”

Fekkai Salon Technician Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner ($18). “Makes hair, in a word, lustrous.”

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer ($70). “Protects my skin with sunblock and has a hint of color.”

Mario Badescu Super Rich Olive Body Lotion ($10). “I transfer it to a tiny bottle and add a Martha Stewart for Avery label. I have to stay organized!”

Kathryn O'Shea-EvansKathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.

 

Photo by John Lawton

Richard Branson Inches Closer to Space Dreams

In what can only be described as one small step for space travelers, one giant leap for Virgin Galactic's publicity team, WhiteKnightTwo, a Sir Richard Branson-owned passenger aircraft, managed to reach an altitude of 46,000 feet over the Mojave Desert yesterday. The test flight lasted all of 16 seconds.

Branson called it "stunning" and "a critical day," according Reuter's Irene Klotz. The airline, mobile service, and music label magnate has been pushing for commercial space flights for almost a decade, even going so far as to accept deposits on the $200,000 tickets. Now that one of his craft's has achieved some small measure of escape velocity, Branson and his two grown children plan to fly in a second test of the WhiteKnightTwo scheduled tomorrow. Watch a YouTube video of the test flight above.

Related: Virgin's Sir Richard Branson: Ode to Abstinence

Travel Uniform: Anna Sui

Anna Sui

The designer shares her low-maintenance packing logic.

She might have a cult following among fashionistas and an eye-catching new luggage line for Tumi (from $95), but style isn’t Anna Sui’s top priority when traveling. “I’m all about comfort,” she admits. That means stretch jeans from Uniqlo ($39) and a loose-fitting silk tunic from one of her past collections. New York–based Sui often flies to Japan for work and England to see friends, and fastidiously plans each day’s look in advance, favoring pieces in wrinkle-resistant chiffon or crepe de chine. “There’s nothing worse than bringing the wrong clothes.”

• “I scour London’s Portobello Market, a favorite shopping stop, for my vintage Bakelite jewelry.”

“Always in my Tumi carry-on: noise-reducing headphones and British rock zines.”

• Sui’s Chippewa boots (from $149) are intentionally a bit big—easier to pull on and off.

• “I pack an extra collapsible bag in my suitcase for souvenirs—like the Tutankhamen head I bought in Egypt.”

Photo by Danielle Levitt

From Belize to Kenya and Rome: A Q&A with Actress Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh

Kate Walsh has been a prime-time star since 2005, when she earned fame for her role as Addison on Grey's Anatomy. While the spin-off series Private Practice just ended its six-year run, the native Californian isn't taking a break to relax, with trips to Vienna, Washington, D.C., and possibly the Middle East coming up this year. There’s also her fragrance, Boyfriend—the bottle of which was inspired by the Venetian glass and gold frames at Le Meurice hotel in Paris. Here, the actress talks to us about her more memorable trips, favorite hotels, and more.

Tell me about your recent trip to Belize.
I was there with Oceana [an ocean conservation organization] to bring awareness to the importance of conserving the barrier reef, which is essential for the island fisherman and protects the island from storms and hurricane. This was one of the most pristine and rich reefs I’ve ever been to.

We stayed at a little place called Turtle Inn, which is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. There was no TV, and only one area you can get Internet. It was so quiet and relaxing, and the food was great. It was just about being in the water, lying in hammocks, and taking boat rides to snorkel at different islands.

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New York Post Bus Tour Brings Back Yesterday's News

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For New Yorkers, The New York Post is like a member of the family. Sure, it can be sensationalistic and vulgar. (Sometimes both at the same time.) Once and a while some critics may even find it a bit racist. But the Post is our paper, and we love it no matter what. Besides, what else are you gonna get for a dollar these days?

Now visitors can see New York City through The Post's legendary headlines. Metro Sightseeing (sister company of Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises) and the newspaper have teamed up to offer The New York Post Headlines Tour, a double-decker ride through the tabloid city.

The tour, which departs from 57th Street and 7th Avenue at 10AM and 2PM every Thursday (tickets are $49), takes you from the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South, former haunt of "Queen of Mean" hotelier Leona Helmsley to the Marble Collegiate Church, where Donald Trump met his second wife, Marla Maples in 1987. That marriage ended in 1997, but not before giving the Post one of its most famous headlines ever: "The Best Sex I Ever Had!"

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Rihanna's Barbados Video, Plus Some T+L Recommendations

On February 10th, “We Found Love” earned R&B superstar Rihanna her sixth Grammy, this time for best short form music video. That’s nice, but the songstress has another video that T+L readers may find even nicer. It’s a tourism promotional video for Barbados, Rihanna’s home country, and one of the Caribbean’s top destinations.

Check it out:

Okay, so now that we all officially want to go to Barbados but know nothing about it, T+L can help. Here are some things the video didn’t tell us that make a visit to this Caribbean isle more enticing:

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Trip Doctor: The Rebirth of a Brand

Karl Lagerfeld

Jean Nouvel. Christian Lacroix. Kenzo Takada. And now, Karl Lagerfeld. Over the last half-decade, a star-studded cast of designers and architects has helped transform the half-century-old French Sofitel brand from a random collection of dusty hotels—some elegant, some forgettable—into a serious player among international luxury hotels.

This is all thanks to a new direction from CEO Robert Gaymer-Jones, who over the last six years whittled down 81 sub-par properties from a group of more than 200 into a collection of 120 hotels that have been upgraded and reflagged into distinct brands. They include the Sofitel flagship (the Nouvel-designed Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, for one), Sofitel Legend for historic properties (the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi and the soon-to-open Sofitel Montevideo among others), and So, a line of new style-conscious boutiques. (Recent openings include So Bangkok, where Lacroix did the lobby and staff uniforms, and So Mauritius, where Takada designed eight light-filled villas.)

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