Kirsten Alana (@kirstenalana) — my feed is a travel guide to city breaks & nature escapes • freelance photographer based in LA with @dante.vincent 
I could not talk about Venice without mentioning my favorite hotel in the city:
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I could not talk about Venice without mentioning my favorite hotel in the city: The Gritti Palace. As far as I can tell, it was created by the Pisani family in 1475. In the 15th or 16th century, it became the palazzo of the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti; whose name it still bears. It was then used as the Vatican Embassy to Venice. In 1902 it became part of a neighboring hotel, in the 1940’s an independently operated hotel. Now it is part of The Luxury Collection, in fact I think it was the first property in the collection. In 2013 it underwent a 60 million dollar renovation. Not too long after that, I visited for the first time. It was during that first visit that I took this image and fell deeply in love with my view of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Each morning I would throw open the shutters and marvel at the traffic on the canal while the sound of gondoliers serenading couples in love carried on the breeze. My room was just above Bar Longhi and Riva Lounge. The latter was meant to recall Monaco Yacht Club and its nautical details did make me feel as if I was floating on a yacht in the Mediterranean. On a sunny day, to sit there with a glass of wine and to watch the boats go by - is truly one of my favorite things to do anywhere in the world. As British writer W. Somerset Maugham observed in 1960, “There are few things in life more pleasant than to sit on the terrace of the Gritti when the sun about to set bathes in lovely colour the Salute [basilica], which almost faces you.” Ernest Hemingway once staged a midnight baseball game in the hotel’s lobby and instead of being reprimanded, had 10 percent taken off his bill since nobody had ever played the sport on the premises before. At least that’s the story according to Architectural Digest. In the 1950s, Dior models were often featured in photoshoots at Gritti. Perhaps that’s the biggest reason I love it. It’s not only the luxury, it’s that by staying there, you’re staying in a piece of history; one that’s survived through so much change in an ever-changing world. If Gritti can last through it all, maybe, so can we. ♥️
18.01.2019 14:31:13
Since I’ve been talking about Italy this long, figured I’d do at least one more
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Since I’ve been talking about Italy this long, figured I’d do at least one more post from the country to help illustrate one of the things I DO love about Instagram. I got a few messages from people wondering why I dislike the app so much after yesterday’s post and if you read that much into what I wrote, I’m so sorry I didn’t communicate my meaning better. The fact is, I am so grateful to @instagram for the opportunities it has brought my way, the friendships I have made here and the more than 40 countries that I have been able to visit essentially just because of my following here. Like I said the other day, there is never a day I am ungrateful for these opportunities. It is cities such as Venice that have led me either directly, or indirectly, to what are some of the most important friendships I have. . Just as one example: While I never was able to meet @neumarc during a visit to Venice, it was because of work in the city that I found his account years ago and followed him, mesmerized by the images he shares. He had a larger following than I did then and I perceived that he was too good of a photographer to be interested in meeting lil ol me, so I never reached out. Then last year, we both ended up on a Viking Ocean Cruise and finally had the chance to meet. Marco is now a close friend and I won’t ever be visiting Venice again without seeing him there. I can’t imagine my world without his friendship. And he’s not the only one I feel that way about, that I’ve been able to meet essentially or actually because of IG. . You can choose to frame your view of IG in a positive way, you can make this place what you want it to be. And I choose to make it a place I come to for the people ♥️ . What do you make it? Why are you here? I’d love to know! 🙏🏼
16.01.2019 14:01:26
Like I did for Rome, ending my stories about Florence by tagging everyone who ma
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Like I did for Rome, ending my stories about Florence by tagging everyone who made this trip so special in my photo. If you’re considering traveling to Firenze soon, or if you want to bookmark this for later, I hope you will also do your own research to see if these people & their small businesses can be a part of your travel to Italy. . As a self employed business woman, I have such a huge heart for supporting other small businesses and that’s why I was so grateful to visit Florence and Rome with Alison of @vivalifestylepr. She brought together the most wonderful group of locals in both cities and so many friendships were made or deepened as a result of this trip. . I want the same for you when you travel. Instagram has become such a double edged sword. It encourages a lifestyle of going to places merely to check off a list of shots you want to get that you’ve seen a hundred times before without learning anything about a local culture or contributing positively in any way to the future of a place. Though my engagement is suffering because I do not want to play that game — or any other, and I got my following a long time ago which also isn’t in my favor — I’m trying to continue to not play that game because I care about people. And people such as the ones I’ve tagged here will continue to be the heart and soul of what I do as long as I can help it. ♥️
15.01.2019 14:33:39
On Facebook I introduced this trip to Roma & Firenze with @xoalitalia as the mak
On Facebook I introduced this trip to Roma & Firenze with @xoalitalia as the maker and creator tour of Italy. It could have also been the tour where there was one great culinary experience after another to the point where when I began the journey home, I swore I’d gained 5 pounds while being gone. And if you like to eat as much as I do, and drink good wine when you do, then there’s no more qualified person to hire in Florence than @filippo.bartolotta When you visit his Instagram you’ll see he’s worked with some of the most famous people you know (or wish you knew) including the coolest first couple to ever serve in the USA’s most famous home. (Yes, THAT couple!) And yet Filippo doesn’t put on airs and he treated us the same way I imagine he treats all his clients no matter how famous or not — like family. Here he is with Michele Berlendis in the kitchen of one is his many ventures and what I’m pretty sure is his newest. Mama Florence is a cooking school not really like any other cooking school I’ve ever been to. In fact, yeah it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in the category of cooking schools. The kitchen itself must be the most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever seen not in a private home. In terms of cooks under our roof in LA, I can’t hold a candle to Danté but I was still salivating over the appliances that Filippo had custom made for Mama Florence via artisans using materials and traditions which go back centuries. Whether you meet him in Italy, or catch him during one of his frequent trips to the USA, just catch him if you can. 🍴🇮🇹🍷
12.01.2019 14:31:46
I had not traveled that much before I began traveling for
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FIRENZE 🇮🇹 SUNSET 🌅 . I had not traveled that much before I began traveling for my career. But I always longed to. In fact, in college my boyfriend and I were supposed to study together in Florence. I spent almost every day of my college existence planning for it and hoping for it and feeling BEYOND EXCITED to leave the USA to study abroad. Sometimes if I close my eyes I can still channel that same hope and wonder and sheer passion for something that……didn’t end up happening. Life just had other plans. That hurt for a while. But at the same time, when I finally did get to visit Florence for the first time in my thirties, while dating @dante.vincent and seeing his name all over the city — ok, well not his name but the name Dante, you know which one [I hope] — it felt like life had worked out just the way it was supposed to. Not the way I planned. But the way it needed to. So even now, even this winter when I visited Florence for the third time with @xoalitalia, I still started crying for a second when I was looking out at the city during sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo. I haven’t lived an easy life. Lots of stuff I won’t ever talk about on social media. And yet I also know I’ve lived a far more privileged life than so many people all around the world. It’s so relative. No matter what, in case you don’t ever know how grateful I am for the traveling I get to do now — often because of my following online — here’s me telling you, there’s not a moment of it that I actually take for granted. Even the moments in places I have been before and have dreamed of for what feels like my whole life. And there isn’t a moment I don’t wish I could just bring you all with me, instead of only telling you about it later. . Thank you for following me. 🙏🏼😘 #PassionPassport
11.01.2019 13:54:58
Squeezing in under the wire for a positive WCW to t
WCW 💃🏻 FLORENCE EDITION 🇮🇹 . Squeezing in under the wire for a positive WCW to tell you about one of the coolest women I’ve met while traveling. And that’s multimedia artist @bettysoldi. During my latest trip to Italy it was all about the people I met along the way. They made the trip for me. In Florence [Firenze] that included Betty, who hosted me at AdAstra which I talked about in my last post and who took the time to have breakfast with us at her other property @soprarnosuites. It’s on the same side of the Arno, a local area of the city known as Oltrarno. Posing in the outer gate of SoprArno before she sent us on our way to explore the city, I couldn’t help but want to take her photo. Her energy in the moment was infectious as was her energy pretty much the whole time we were around her. She translates that into her art which is largely based on her beautiful calligraphy but is not limited to. She has AdAstra and SoprArno with her husband and their story is such an intriguing one, filled with family histories in multiple countries and a rich tapestry of projects that feed both of their talent and skill sets. . In a funny “it’s a small world after all” twist, the book Soldi recently published actually features a photo of my dear friend @fleurishing’s tattoo. Maybe we were destined to meet. Either way, meeting Betty was further proof that no matter how wonderful a destination is, it’s the people that make the place. Without good people, travel is just a set of tickets and timelines and dots on a map. . #wcwpost#womencrushwednesday
10.01.2019 02:04:44
In Firenze, which I also visited with Alison of
BOUTIQUE SLEEPS 🛏 FLORENCE 🇮🇹 . In Firenze, which I also visited with Alison of @vivalifestylepr, artist Betty Soldi was kind enough to host me at @adastraflorence. From the moment I was let through the gate on the street to see this view of just a portion of the largest private garden in Europe, I knew there was something very special in store. I could feel it in the light that filtered through the columns even on a gray winter day. As I made my way through multiple doors and up a grand staircase, the feeling of wonder in my chest swelled. And yet when I was finally greeted in what passes for a modest hallway in Italy outside a beautifully aged salon that was as understated as it was elegant, I was anything but disappointed. . Ad Astra takes up a few floors in an ancestral family mansion that was a collaboration between architect Francesco Maestrelli and Marco & Matteo Perduca in Oltrarno, the most real and authentic Florentine district. After a brief look at the 270 square metre terrace, where I couldn’t wait to enjoy breakfast, I was let into my suite where Lego figurines, vintage flags and metro system memorabilia seemed perfectly married to original Italian design pieces from the ‘50s, ‘60s & ‘70s, a free standing bathtub and an ancient frescoed ceiling. Quirky in a way I’d never expect in Firenze, like the writing on the wall that was clearly done by hand. Fanciful and carefree yet absolutely still chic. . If I thought I was reminded of how much I love boutique hotels in Roma, in Firenze I was reminded of how much I love guesthouses where the owner’s distinct personality is so evident and infectious in the details of your surroundings, that you immediately feel you’ve found a new friend. . . . . #bellaitalia🇮🇹#italia🇮🇹#culturetrip#boutiquehotels#traveladdicted#iamatraveler#tlpicks#italiabella#bettysoldi#firenze#florenceitaly#firenze🇮🇹#firenzearchitecture#italyarchitecture#detailsofitaly#guesthouses#adastrahotelparticulier#adastrafirenze
08.01.2019 14:29:24
I thought of this quote when I was in Roma with @viv
GOLDEN HOUR ☀️ IN ROME 🇮🇹 . I thought of this quote when I was in Roma with @vivalifestylepr walking along the Tiber at Golden Hour seeing graffiti and street art covering centuries old stone as my heart was torn by both an appreciation for the desire to create and a sadness to see such ancient surfaces marred by modern vanity, “I like things that are kind of eclectic, when one thing doesn't go with another. That's why I love Rome. The town itself is that way. It's where Fascist architecture meets classic Renaissance, where the ancient bangs up against the contemporary. It has a touch of everything. That's my style, and that's what my work is about.” - Giambattista Valli . . . . #romaitalia#romeitaly#qotd#romaitalia🇮🇹#romaitaly#visitingrome#giambatistavalli#quotelife#quoteaday#traveladdicted#traveltolearn#slowandglow#livemoremagic#myalmanacmoment
07.01.2019 16:22:50
Years ago during one of my first trips to Rome, if
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BEST FOOD 🍴 TOUR IN ROME 🇮🇹 . Years ago during one of my first trips to Rome, if not the first, I took a tour of one of the city’s markets with Eleonora. We ate, we wandered, we listened to her stories and eventually we took what we bought “home” to a luxury apartment that looked right out at the Colosseum. There in a kitchen flooded with light and different from any I’d been to at home in the USA, she supervised the cooking of a meal that was in hindsight quite normal for Italy but for me was revolutionary. Such simple ingredients became such a beautiful open door to another culture, another world, superior to anything I’d experienced before that was “Italian” back home in the states. As I continued to visit Italy over the years, that experience with Eleonora was always foremost in my mind as the standard by which other experiences in other parts of Italy were judged by. If Italians weren’t as effusive with praise over a mere piece of cheese as Eleonora is, I thought longingly back to that day with her and wished that she could be my guide to all of Italy. . Fast forward to this trip when Alison said we’d be doing a tour with @casamiaitalyfoodandwine and I was overjoyed to realize that would mean touring the city again with Eleonora Baldwin and now with Gina Tringali who I’d also met years ago. The four of us had so much fun and I learned so much that I just didn’t want it to ever end. It was like the first time all over again. We laughed and we cried and we moaned and swooned over cheese and bread and chocolate and olive oil and cured meats from sustainable vendors and small businesses. I don’t need a third time to know, there’s no one I’d want to experience Rome with more than her, and now with Gina who she runs Casa Mia with. It’s that simple. 🇮🇹 🍴 . . . . . #foodtourinrome#rometour#romaitalia#romaitaly#foodtourism#foodtours#passionpassport#iamatraveler#thisissustainable#touringrome#italia🇮🇹#culturetrip#TLpicks#mydomainetravels
05.01.2019 14:38:18
Staying at Palazzo Dama meant frequent walks along the River Tiber and often dur
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Staying at Palazzo Dama meant frequent walks along the River Tiber and often during golden hour or sunset. I can’t say I minded. Walking along the river in Rome is one of my favorite things to do because of the Sycamore trees that bend like a natural tunnel, framing the views and insulating you in a world within a world. . During this visit while wandering I learned something I’d never known before about the Tiber. There are so many bridges that span the river now but there were only 5 bridges in Rome that were built by the Romans. All had 5 arches. And this is how you can tell now, whether you’re crossing a bridge the Romans made, or one that’s newer — whether or not it has 5 arches! Because no other bridges do. . Oh and I took this particular image on a walk to @maisonhalaby which turned out to be the most extraordinary visit and few hours I’ve ever spent with an artist, ever. If you love talking with makers on a deep level, not just about what they make but also who they are and how they see the world...and if you like to listen more than talk and if you can see beautiful things but resist the urge to photograph them with anything more than your mind’s eye or if you desire to have a bag that’s literally one of a kind and won’t be carried by anyone else, then please do not miss Gilbert Halaby’s maison while you are in Roma. Go with time to spend, do not be in a rush to depart. 👜🎨 . . . . . #romaitalia#romaitaly#romeitaly#rivertiber#italia🇮🇹#romehistory#romanhistory#historyinpictures#visitingrome#visitroma#italiabella#bellaitalia🇮🇹#nationaltriviaday
04.01.2019 14:07:16
In Rome, I was hosted at @palazzodama which I think of now as the late-night par
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In Rome, I was hosted at @palazzodama which I think of now as the late-night partying, up-on-the-latest-trends, chic and outgoing younger sibling to the older, elegant and mature sister property Dom Hotel. Both are the product of the passion and artistry that @architect_antonio_girardi gives to the world. . When I sat with him at the bar in Palazzo Dama, I was surprised to learn Girardi owns a home by Frank Lloyd Wright, a favorite of mine since childhood when my godfather used to explain architecture principles to me long before other adults bothered to talk to me as more than a child. Girardi’s passion for these properties extends further than the usual hotel architect into details such as the menu at Pacifico, the restaurant featured in this image. In fact though I had reservations elsewhere after our meeting, I was glad we did a tasting because the bites I savored at his bequest were as delightful as the hotel is beautiful. He and his properties are proof positive of why I adore boutique hotels. They’re not cookies cut from a corporate mold. Staying in a place such as Palazzo Dama is the equivalent of entering someone’s home. At the least, their home away from home. There’s a compelling intimacy which might be impossible to replicate on a corporate scale. So don’t be surprised if you actually see Girardi at Palazzo Dama or @domhotelroma (which you should make sure to visit for cocktails and a leisurely dinner, even if you’re staying at Dama). . Just note that with a club in the basement, you might want to request a room on an upper floor for a weekend stay. It’s that “younger sister who plays her music too loud at night” thing.... . . . . . #palazzodama#antoniogirardi#boutiquehotels#kiwicollection#thepreferredlife#livecelebrated#culturetrip#romaitalia#romeitaly#romehotels
03.01.2019 14:02:15
Happy New Year! 🎉🍾🥂
2018 began in Roma where I’d wanted to treat birthday boy
Happy New Year! 🎉🍾🥂 . 2018 began in Roma where I’d wanted to treat birthday boy Danté to a wonderfully Italian New Year...that resulted in my being robbed and things not exactly going according to plan. It was a rough start to the year actually. . But I’m returning to Rome in my feed because I had the pleasure of going back with @vivalifestylepr for an entirely different and far better experience than the one that began this year and bookending a year with trips to Italy is a great way to end the chapter of my life that was 2018. It was so moving that it brought me to tears at times and it was enough to finally help me really love the country which I’ve always had a weirdly mixed view of. Alison curated an experience with some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met while traveling and helped me reunite with old friends as well. It was an experience I’ll remember forever, matched by a wonderful few nights in Firenze as well. . I’ve tagged everyone from my stay in Rome and will have more photos of this trip to come after a little pause for some proper NYE celebrations at home in California. I hope wherever you’re celebrating tonight, it’s full of joy & hope for the year to come. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ . . . #romaitalia#romaitaly#thisisitaly#reflectiongrams#sonyalpha#sonyimages#sonya7rii#thisisrome#newyears2019
31.12.2018 14:50:32