Reader’s Find: Italy

Five years ago, my husband and I discovered a magical place in Tuscany: Villa Bernardi (one-week minimum, from $9,134), on a 130-acre vineyard along Chianti’s main wine route. The five-bedroom villa—a stone farmhouse dating back to 1085 that was recently remodeled—has wood-beamed ceilings, terra-cotta floors, and a swimming pool. It’s run by a gracious family who does tasting tours of their vineyard and others nearby, and encourages guests to help out with the wine making. We stayed for a week with two other couples, cooking and drinking the owners’ outstanding varietals, which we later found in New York’s Chambers Street Wine Shop. We’ve been back every year since, and stock up in between visits. —Linda Golden, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Tom Austin’s story about the Fontainebleau [“Fontainebleau Hotel’s Extreme Makeover,” March] brought to mind one of my greatest college experiences. As a sophomore in 1961, I was selected to be one of William and Mary’s two delegates to the Associated Collegiate Press Convention in Miami. It was my first airplane ride and my first visit to Florida; I stayed at the Fontainebleau and could see the Surfside 6 houseboat from my window. The convention was great, but my Fontainebleau experience was unforgettable. —David G. Blood, Mays Landing, N.J.

Next for Nicaragua?

As a native of Nicaragua, I can tell you that Kurt Andersen is correct: yes, my beloved country is on the verge of becoming a popular tourist destination [“Nicaragua Today: Affordable and Low-Key,” March], and yes, the people are wonderful. But if Daniel Ortega does away with term limits for his presidency, it will also be on the verge of becoming another dictatorship. —Brad Smidt, via e-mail

New Orleans’ Finest Po’boy

In “Best Restaurants in New Orleans” [March], Francine Maroukian identified Parkway Bakery & Tavern as the source of the city’s top po’boy, but in my opinion, the absolute best can be found uptown at Domilise’s (lunch for two $20). For the past 50 years, owner Dorothy Domilise (a.k.a. Dot, or Mrs. D.) has been dressing hers with lettuce, pickles, and a house-made Creole mustard; I suggest trying one with oysters or shrimp. The place is not fancy—you take a number, wait in line, place your order, and pay only in cash—but it is not to be missed. —Stephen Sterett, Fort Worth, Tex.

Haute Tables

I stayed at Mama Shelter, in Paris, with a friend shortly after it opened last September, before it won a T+L Design Awards 2009 for best large hotel [March]. Our accommodations were wonderfully modern, as you would expect from Philippe Starck, but the restaurant and adjoining bar—with its simple French dishes from the famed Alain Senderens, reasonably priced drinks, live DJ, and hip local crowd—was the real highlight. I’ll be in Paris again in the fall, and even though I’m renting an apartment this time around, I’ll definitely be booking another table. —Christine Humphrey, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Island Dreams

The beautiful photographs of Bora-Bora’s beaches in your February issue [“50 Best Romantic Getaways”] reminded me how much I miss traveling and the ocean. Because of you, I’m now one of 50 finalists for Australia’s “Best Job in the World,” a six-month stint on Hamilton Island as caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef, for which I’d report to Tourism Queensland and the world ( Thanks for the inspiration! —Steven Rogers, Tyler, Tex.