Tag: Inspiration

South America’s 8 Must Visit Places…

My love of travel began back in the year 2000, and in the past seven years since then I have traveled to countless places, had numerous adventures and made many memories.  Over time the details of these trips can begin to blur and the emotion and excitement originally felt can fade into a distant memory. However my experiences in South America are made up of rare moments that I will hold in my heart forever.

It is a continent of magic, enchantment, inspiration & love and somewhere which evokes a great sence of wanderlust within me.  Though I have traveled there extensively it is a place I always long to return to and on trips back I have always had the feeling of my soul somehow coming home.  For me, that’s the bewitching allure of travel, and the thing that always drives me to keep exploring new corners of the world.

So here is my list of South America’s 8 must visit places… May they be as awe-inspiring for you as they were for me!

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1 – Cycle the ‘Road of Death’ in Bolivia.

‘The Road of Death’ is a twisting 80km mountainside trail, considered the world’s most dangerous road. Get a major adrenaline rush as you dodge trucks and local filled buses while admiring the incredible views of the sweeping mountains.

2 – Visit the Amazon Forest.

Bolivia’s ‘Las Pampas’ is one of the lesser visited areas of the amazon where you can get up close and observe capybara, monkeys and caimens in their natural habitat.  Plus hike through the forest, fish for piranha and swim with pink dolphins.

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3 – Samba Dance Around Colourful Brazil.

A visit to Brazil any time between Christmas and mid-February guarantees you a party as they prepare for, or celebrate, the famous Carnival. From Rio de Janiero’s Bloco Parties & Sambadrome, to all-night beach parties in Bahia, or the soulful drum beats of street parties in Salvador.

4 – Dance the Tango in Buenos Aires.

Explore Buenos Aires, the city of colour, vibrancy and romance offering incredible food & wine, beautiful architecture, fascinating culture and of course tango dancing.

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5 – Experience the Power of the Iguazu Falls.

A cascade of hundreds of waterfalls emerging from the jungle in a powerful mass over the Brazilian & Argentinian boarders.  Explore the falls by boat ride or walk up to ‘The Devils Throat’ and see views from the top of the biggest fall.

6- Get Lost in Bolivia’s Salt Desert.

Uyuni’s salt desert was once a great lake that dried into giant mysterious salt flats.  Stretching as far as the eye can see the white of the salt reflects light in an amazing way, making it appear like you are walking through the clouds.

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7 – Hike to the Ancient Aztec City of Machu Picchu.

Walk along Peru’s ancient Inca Trail which winds through mountains peaks, cloud topped forests and old Aztec ruins to finish at the ancient city of Machu Picchu.   

8 – Explore Hidden Islands on Lake Titicaca.

For an off the beaten track experience take an over-night trip to the hidden islands on Lake Titicaca.  Hike across the island by day and stay in family run guest houses by night to see beautiful views of natures and experience local life.

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7 Must-Do’s in Cartagena…

Cartagena is an UNESCO World Heritage site located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and is considered one of South America’s top colonial destinations, alongside Cuzco and Ouro Preto.

Though the most touristy place we visited in Colombia, the city has a lot to offer and I was drawn to promises of cobbled streets, sunny plazas and bougainvillea covered houses.  The magic of the old town conjures up feelings of romance, mystery and inspiration and our two nights spent here were filled with exploring the maze-like streets, photographing the beautiful architecture and drinking coffee in leafy plazas.

If you are planning to visit Colombia, a stop off in Cartagena is highly recommended.  Here are my 7 must-do’s while visiting the city…

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1 – Walk Along the City Walls.  Cartagena’s Old Town lies inside its 13km long city walls constructed in the 16th century to protect the city after attacks from Sir Francis Drake.  The walls are still well preserved and its possible to walk nearly all the way around, providing views into the old town on one side and the ocean on the other.

2 – Wander Around the Old Town.  The best way to visit Cartagena’s old town is to simply wander around and see what you discover.  As well as impressive architecture and cute cafes there is so much life in Cartagena’s streets so enjoying taking in the kids playing footballs, the fruit vendors wearing traditional dress or the families playing cards outside their houses.  There is always something exciting going on no matter what time of day or night!

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(cartagena’s cathedral covered with work from local artists)

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(flower filled balconies)

3 – Photograph the Bougainvillea Covered Balconies.  Almost all the houses in Cartagena’s old town have flower filled balconies spilling out into the street.  The colors create a beautiful, vibrant atmosphere and provide some great photo opportunities.

4 – Check Out Some Amazing Street Art.  Incredible street art adorns the walls around the cool neighborhood of Getsemani.  Still part of the old town, though outside the city walls, Getsemani has a more raw, gritty feel with colorful graffiti covering most of the walls.  Join the free Street Art Tour leaving each morning at 10am or walk around alone and see what you discover.

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(getsemani street art)

5 – Try Some Street Food.  Cartagena has a reputation for serving some of the best street food in Colombia and it’s specialty is Arepas – a deep fried bread made from maize and stuffed with cheese, egg or meat.  For something more healthy you can find fruit vendors all over the city.  Recognizable for their colorful, traditional dress they sell all kinds of fresh, delicious, exotic fruits.

6 – Soak Up the Shopping.  If you love bohemian fashion then shopping in Cartagena is definitely a must.  There are street stalls and boutiques all over the old city selling colorful jewellery, sandals and bags.  Make sure to check out Casa Abba Boutique for some unique accessories and clothes made by amazing Colombia’s designers.

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7 – Find Local Life Depicted in Scrap Metal.  If you want to learn about local life, check out the series of statues dotted around the plazas of the old town.  The statues are made to represent the daily life of the Cartagenians with fruit vendors, shoes shiners, dominoes matches and guitar players all made of scrap metal.

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After ten days relaxing on the secluded San Bernardo Islands we loved the vibrancy and color we found in our two night stop over in Cartagena.  Have you ever visited Cartagena? Let me know what you thought in the comments below…

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8 Reasons to Travel Colombia

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Since traveling around South America back in 2009 it has always been my dream to return to this magical continent and visit Colombia.

On our initial trip we chose to skip Colombia, feeling hesitant about the countries safely and political situation, and instead opted for the more central route of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil & Argentina.  I loved our trip and I would never wished to change it, but so many of the backpackers we met on route told us of the magic of Colombia and what incredible experiences they had there and the dream to explore Colombia was sparked in me.

This summer, nearly seven years after my first visit, we decided to finally make my Colombia dreams a reality.  We finished up work at the end of July, left our laptops at home and headed off on a three and a half week adventure that was one of the best experiences of my life.

It is an absolutely breathtaking place, full of colour, life, soul and some of the kindest people I have ever met.  Its a place of great contrasts, of poverty and wealth, creativity and corruption.  And it’s a place of awe-inspiring natural diversity with mountain ranges, amazon forest, cultural cities and Caribbeans beaches.  It is one of the best places I have traveled to, so I wanted to share 8 reasons to inspire you to travel to Colombia too…

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Unbelievable Bogota.

A city of contrasts, where anything really can happen, Bogota is exciting, lively, hectic and artsy.  Soak up culture in La Candelaria, see the cities creative side on a Graffiti tour, sample the incredible restaurants and bars or explore the markets and connect with the locals.  Bogota is a whirlwind that has so much to offer!

Beautiful Untouched Beaches.

Offering chilled Caribbean charm or rugged wilderness on the Pacific coast, Colombia’s beaches are a stunning mix of white sand, clear waters, coral reefs and aquatic wildlife.

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Some Incredible Coffee.

Colombia’s coffee is produced in the central ‘Zona Cafeteria’.  It’s lush, green landscape makes for some beautiful views and you can even have a relaxing stay in a Coffee Finca.  You can also find incredible coffee all over the country.  Try getting a freshly brewed cup from a street seller and drink it in a plaza watching the world go by.

It’s Home to the Kindest People.

Colombia’s are so friendly and kind.  They treat you like a family member and welcome you to their country with open arms.

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Inspirational Street Art.

Bogota’s legalization of graffiti in 2011 marked a creative boom for the city.  Sky scrapers, urban buildings and public walls are now the canvas space for street artists to express themselves and share their political viewpoints.  Everywhere you look, the city is an incredible mix of colors, patterns and murals.

Cultural Cartagena.

A World Heritage UNESCO Site, Cartagena is a colonial gem with cobbled streets, colourful houses, pretty plazas and a rich cultural offering of museums, churches and galleries.

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Diversity of Adventures.

Whatever type of adventure you like Colombia offers it all.  From sleeping in river-side lodges on Amazon excursions, climbing mountains in the Andes, trekking to the ancient Lost City or exploring one of the many National Parks, Colombia’s excitement and adventure comes in many forms.

Music & Dancing on Every Street Corner.

No matter where we were in Colombia there was always music booming from speaker systems and locals dancing together and having fun.  The energy for life is contagious and it’s one of the reasons why I love South America.

Have you ever traveled in Colombia? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below…

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What to do When you have Itchy Feet…

If you read my blog regularly (thank you!) then you will know how much I love traveling and how I am always dreaming about new places I want to visit and discover.  Apart from fashion, traveling is my favorite thing to do with my time and I have invested so much time and energy into taking big trips and seeing the world.  That’s because traveling inspires me, the discovery and new experiences it brings helps me to grow and change the way I see the world and it makes me feel happy and excited about life.  I honestly feel so lucky for all the incredible places I have visited so far and I can’t wait for all the future trips I plan on taking.

Right now we are starting to research for our summer trip and we are thinking Colombia in South America!  So I have been reading a lot of travel guides and searching travel blogs for tips about top places to visit in Colombia.  All this makes me super excited because Colombia sounds amazing!  And it also brings back beautiful memories of my gap year traveling around South America! But it is also giving me pretty itchy feet and making me yearn for my South American travels right now.

I am lucky because it will only be about ten weeks until we take our summer trip but I know there have been times when there have been no trips on the horizon and my life has been consumed by day to day things and working.  And in times like this its easy to feel like travel is far away and out of sync with your lifestyle.  So today I wanted to share with you my five easy ideas to do when you have itchy feet and how to bring adventure into your life when you can’t travel anywhere.

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Research.

Even if you don’t have any trips coming up in the immediate future always keep yourself open to the idea of traveling by doing research.  Read travel magazines and blogs, save and rip out articles of places you want to visit, make a Pinterest Board of travel ideas or make a travel book of places you dream of visiting.  Keeping you travel dreams in mind increase the chances of you actually making them a reality and gives you things to feel excited for in the future.

Inspire Yourself.

Search for new sources of inspiration by watching travel documentary’s, reading magazines like National Geographic, visiting photography and anthropology exhibitions, reading travel books and journals and watching adventure films.  Following the adventures of others will open you mind and bring you inspiration for exciting things you can to do in the future.

Embrace Your Local Scene.

Find out what exciting things your local scene has to offer and make an effort to visit them in your free time.  If you are really busy dedicate one day a month to having fun and take off for an adventure in your city or local area.  Visit museum or exhibitions, soak up the culture in another near-by town, go hiking or cycling and explore the countryside or check out local festivals and events.  You may be surprised how much your area has to offer and it will give you appreciation of the amazing place you live in.  To find out about whats going on check Trip Advisors of your town, blog posts, facebook events and local magazines and newspapers.

Push Yourself to Try New Things.

Create adventure in your day to day life by pushing yourself to try new things and create new experiences.  Eat out at new restaurants, take some fun classes, try new sports, experiment with cooking exotic foods, visit parts of your city you haven’t seen before.  Including new things in your life keeps you feeling inspired and energized, helps you learn and grow and can even open doors to new opportunities and introduce you to new people.

Get Creative.

Remember and feel gratitude for all the amazing trips you have always taking by finding creative ways to honor them.  Create scrap books or your trips or make a photo wall in your home showing all your favorite trips and experiences.  Honoring your past travels in this way will help to keep them alive and fill your life with positivity and achievement.

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How to Create a Home When you Love Travelling…

As you will well know if you have been reading my blog for a while – I love to travel! Along with fashion it is one of my favorite things.  Before starting university I took a year out with my best friends and traveled South America, Australia and part of Asia.  During summer breaks at university I traveled to Morocco and more of South East Asia and I also studied in Italy.  All of these experiences have been incredible and have shaped who I am as a person and I feel really lucky to have already experienced so much in my life.

Now I live in Milan, Italy – where I moved nearly three years ago.  This experience is a little different from my other travels because I am based in one place and hold down a normal (ish) job.  I still have the adventure of traveling but I am also building a life and a home here and developing my career.  As much as I like to find excitement in taking trips and visiting new places I also love how much I feel at home in Milan.  And I love the beautiful apartment that we live in and are redecorating to make our own.  Maybe we wont be here forever, we might move back to England or move to somewhere completely new, but the more I travel the more I believe it’s important to have somewhere that feels like home to come back to.  Somewhere that leaves me feeling balanced and relaxed and where I can recharge before my next big adventure.  So in today’s post I want to share with you five tips for creating a home when you love to travel…

Display Photos & Souvenirs taken from your Adventures.  These will serve as visual reminders of all the amazing adventures you have already had and make your home feel rich with memories.

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Buy Cushions, Throws & Fabrics on your Travels to Decorate your House.  Whenever I travel to a new place I always look for traditional, ethnic fabrics to buy and place around my house.  We have cushions on our sofa from Sri Lanka and throws on the beds from Costa Rica.  We mixed these with more minimal, neutral items to create colorful focus pieces that remind us of our travels.

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Bring the Things from Home you Care About.  Moving to another country normally involves cramming everything you own into one suitcase and means anything ‘non-essential’ needs to be left behind. But try to make room for a few of the things you really care about – like old photographs, letters from friends or jewellery & trinkets from family.  Having these things close to hand in your new space will make you feel comforted and create a feeling of being home.

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Include Some Inspiration.  Think about what you dream of achieving in your life and fill your home with items that align with that.  My home is filled with travel guides and maps to plan my next adventures and photography & fashion books so I can always find inspiration close by.

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Fill your Home with Love & Happiness.  Don’t just see your house as a go-to base in between trips or as somewhere you are only staying for the duration of your trip.  Fill your home with love & happiness and create positive memories there too.  Play music, cook tasty food, burn beautiful smelling candles, buy fresh flowers and invite friends over for dinners and parties.  All these things will bring life and love into your home so your adventures continue even when you are not traveling.

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(all photos taken from pinterest.com)

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Unique Places to Visit in Northern Italy

I have been living in Italy now for three years, and every year I spend here I discover new and exciting thing about this magical and enchanting country.

I started off my experience here much like everyone else and my travel list was to be expected – Rome, Venice, Florence, Vatican City.  These places were undeniably amazing, but sharing the experience of seeing the Sistine Chapel shared with 50 other tourists or waiting over an hour in line to see Venice cathedral makes the experience a little less special.  The longer I have lived in Italy the more I have discovered the real gems of this country are the places less known of, that you have to search to find, or that involve a degree of adventure.  It’s in these moments that you see the real Italy.  The Italy with a big heart and amazing food that welcomes you in like a long lost family member.

If you want to experience a little of that (and why wouldn’t you?!) then here are my favorite unique places to travel in Northern Italy.  Maybe you can try and squeeze some in on your next visit to Milan, Venice or Florence…

Unique Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Parma.

The region of Parma is known for its incredible food – specifically it’s hams, cheeses and olive oil.  The best time to visit is in November when the Fall food festivals are in full swing and you can combine a morning of city site seeing with a local foodie festival.  We combined our visit with ‘November Pork’ a festival which celebrates food from local farms including cheeses, home-made pastas, wine and of course ham, salami and pork.

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Lake Como.

Located only an hour from Milan on the train, Lake Como is a perfect place to escape from the city and pass a day relaxing by the water.  Take a boat ride on the lake to visit the old villa’s and mansion’s of old Italian aristocracy or get lost walking around one of the little villages dotted along the lake’s edge.

Verona

Arguably one of the more touristy locations, Verona is definitely still worth a visit.  Take a local bike or walking tour around the city and take in the mix of ancient roman architecture and renaissance art dotted around the city center.  Visit the Amphitheater and Juliette’s (of Romeo & Juliette) balcony and then finish your day at a open air restaurant in one of the cites beautiful plazas.

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Lake Garda.

Located between Verona & Venice, Lake Garda is a beautiful, tranquil spot with little villages lining to shore of the lake.  Two places worth visiting are Peschiera del Garda and Sirmione where you can spend a day walking around their quiet streets, taking boat rides on the lake and eating seafood in sunny plazas.

Alba.

Another place to visit during the Fall, Alba comes alive through the month of November for the International Truffle Festival.  Plan your visit so you can spend a day exploring the exhibition, tasting the truffles and visiting local deli’s and wine stores.  Then finish up by visiting vineyards and farm based restaurants in the surrounding countryside to experience truffle eating at its best.

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Torino.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Torino is an elegant and characteristic city 120km north of Milan.  The city has a more local feel but still offers lots of museums, churches, restaurants and sunny plazas so you can get your culture fix.  Strolling around the city and exploring its piazza’s and cobbled streets is a fun way to spend a day out of Milan.

Are you planning a trip to Northern Italy? Let me know where you are thinking about going in the comments below…

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Secret Milan – Armani Silos Museum

This weekend my Mum was visiting from France and on the Saturday we spent the day in Milan visiting the new museum and exhibition space ‘Armani Silos‘.

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The museum opened earlier this year and I have been dying to go ever since, so it was a nice excuse to visit while somebody came to stay. The museum is located on Via Bergognone next to the Armani offices and was built inside an old granary mill. The exhibition covers four floors of the building which has been recreated in minimal black, white and concrete grey design.

The exhibition itself was absolutely amazing. Containing over six hundred outfits and two hundred accessories dating from 1980 to the present day, the exhibition is a beautiful archive showing the talent of Armani from over forty years of his career.

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In an unusual way, the exhibition is not set out in chronological order but grouped according to themes that have inspired Armani and define the brands aesthetic vision. They are named Daywear, Exoticism, Colour Schemes and Light. Exoticism was my favourite as outfits had subtle influences from ethnic cultures and contained vibrant patterns and strong colours. A style I always love!

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After spending several hours pouring over outfits in the museum and choosing our favourites using the Armani Silos app, we stopped for health drinks in the Armani Cafe on the bottom floor and looked at chic accessories in the museum gift shop. Afterwards we went into Porta Genova and had a couple of glasses of prosecco in the Mercato Metropolitano before heading home to get ready for our Halloween party!

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Postive Vibes – What I Have Learnt Before Turning 24…

The month of July has been really busy for me with photo shoots, meetings, travel and my birthday.  With one week left before we go on holiday I decided to give myself this week to feel relaxed and balanced before going away.  I have a lot to catch up on but I am also giving myself time to do things I love like yoga, reading, cooking and seeing friends.

At the end of a busy period I always like to evaluate how things have gone and make some goals for what I want from the next months. While thinking about this I came across a blog post by one of my favourite bloggers Karen Walrond on Chookooloonks who wrote a post about eight thinks she has learnt since her last birthday. As it was recently my birthday I thought it appropriate to give it a go myself.

Since leaving university and entering the ‘adult world’ two years ago I feel like I have learnt a lot about myself and the directions I want to go in.  So I decided my list refers to the past 12 months between turning 23 and 24.

Things I have learnt…

1. Be happy with my natural body shape. I used to always want to be skinny but in the past year I realised it is so much better to be slim, toned and strong. I have a good body weight and now I love where I have curves too. Of course there are areas (like my abs) I want to improve, but my goals are to tone them up instead of trying to loose weight. Eating healthy and exercising regularly And feeling good is more important.

2. Building from that I now LOVE exercise. Don’t get me wrong I still hate the gym! But I have learnt I love exercising outside and now do a combination of  yoga, cycling or swimming five times a week. My body feels great but it’s so good for de-stressing my mind too.

3. Comparing myself to others is a waste of time. I now know where I want to take my life and career and I have set goals to help myself get there. As long as I am achieving those and feeling happy in the process then it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. I can just sit back and feel happy for them instead of comparing and feeling bad.

4. Working towards my goals slowly has better results in the long term. Since moving to Italy I noticed the attitude they have of working towards goals a little bit at a time, instead of trying to do everything all at once. The phrase Rome wasn’t built in a day applies here. When I started thinking about how I could apply it to my own life I noticed I became much better at sticking at things because I was setting myself for realistic goals. It might take a longer, but by doing a little everyday I am much more productive and focused.

5. Don’t do things to try and keep other people happy, but make my decisions based on what feels right for me.

6. Loving and appreciating the amazing friends I have. Even if I live far away from them we are still so connected and close and that makes me happy.

7. Making time for the things I love (yoga, cooking, reading, cycling, travel, music) is so important for a happy lifestyle.

Things I want to learn/do before turning 25…

1. More yoga. Since starting in May I am loving the effect on my body and mind and want to keep up my four lessons a week.

2. More Italian. I just got to keep getting better.

3. Become more selfless. Helping people, getting involved with charities, following a good cause… I feel like I need to do more to help other people.

4. Scuba Dive at least once. Because I love it and I never do it.

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Secret Milan – The Antonio Marras Concept Store

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This week I visited the Antonio Marras Concept store on Via Cola di Rienzo in Milan.

I love Antonio Marras and have wanted to visit this place since reading about it. As I mentioned before I have recently written a list of things I want to visit around Milan and this place was top of that list.

The store is located inside a converted factory and stepping inside felt like entering into a magical world. Just like the designs of Antonio Marras the shop is beautiful, creative, pretty and full of fantasy.

As well as the incredible clothes there is vintage teacups, playful wall paintings, antique furniture, candles, ceramics and a floor to ceiling circular book shelf with art books piled high (my dream!)

Everything together creates such a beautiful atmosphere and the more you look around the more beautiful details you will discover. The perfect way to spend a morning in Milan. You will leave feeling truly inspired.

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