European Road Trip: Mendrisio to Saint Vincent, Italy

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Mendrisio Switzerland Travel to Saint Vincent Italy Map-092651

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Wanderlust: Exploring Mendrisio, Switzerland

Mendrisio, Switzerland is a small town that is nearly surrounded by the Italian border. It’s peninsula like location, within Italy, provides Mendrisio with a rich blend of both Swiss and Italian culture. Nearly 90% of the local population speaks Italian as their main language and the food is a range of Swiss and Italian cuisine (think fresh cheese, pizza and fondue).

Beautiful mountains with winding paths are perfect for jogging, hiking, or mountain biking, and on any given day you can see outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the steep terrain. Narrow cobble stone streets are lined with historical landmarks that make Mendrisio a great destination for the traveler who loves to explore. In fact, Mendrisio is known in Italian as “il magnifico borgo (the magnificent town) due to its numerous elegant historical buildings”. (wiki)

Mendrisio Switzerland Travel Guide_152122

For the food loving traveler, there are plenty of small batch wineries, coffee shops, pizzerias, and restaurants offering locally made cheese and chocolate fondues. I was quite fond of a particular pizzeria name Grutli which made a mouth watering quattro formaggi with mozzarella, parmesan, asiago and blue cheese. I’m literally drooling at the memory.

I also paid more than a few visits to a local pastry shop, named Danesi, which offered one of my absolute favorite sweets – the macaron! While I’m aware that the macaron isn’t exactly Swiss or Italian, I still indulged given the opportunity. Additionally, I also sampled several varieties of chocolates and cheese which I purchased from a local farmers market.

Mendrisio is also a tourist destination for the fashionista, since there is large outlet center, called Foxtown, in the main center of town. Foxtown offers heavily discounted items from over 150 luxury brand stores like Prada, Burberry, and Dior. There is also a wide selection of sportswear like Nike, Puma, The North Face and Adidas.

For the gambler, there is a rather nice casino attached to the shopping center which offers table games and a large choice of slot machines. The interior of the casino is really pretty with a ceiling made to look like the night sky and plenty of beautiful paintings and foliage – palm trees, etc.

The Bromstad for Naturalizer Fall ’14 Collection

I have always had a major obsession with exotic prints, especially when it comes to fashion. During college, I worked at a zoo where I was lucky enough to have close up encounters with lions, tigers, bears and pretty much every other animal you find at a zoo. I’ve played tug of war with tigers, bottle fed exotic animal babies, and even had the opportunity to assist in a veterinarian visit where I was able to brush a large, male lion’s teeth! That experience was awesome, scary and humbling all at the same time. While my days of working at the zoo are a thing of the past, my interest in all things ‘wild’ will always be deeply rooted. That is exactly why I love the fact that animal print always seems to find it’s way into seasonal trends.

This Fall, the animal print trend is in full swing and adding to the mix of the bold print, is bold texture. This combination of pattern and material is the reason why I am madly in love with the Bromstad for Naturalizer Fall ’14 Collection!

The Bromstad for Naturalizer Fall '14 Collection

Naturalizer teamed up with David Bromstad to create a line of shoes and accessories that is truly ‘wild’!

“Animal prints are hot and always on trend. But I wanted to approach it in a different way,” Bromstad said. “By using python, snow leopard, cheetah and zebra together in one cohesive piece of artwork, we get an exciting new twist on a timeless trend.”

In collaborating with Bromstad, Naturalizer product designer Angelique Joseph used each of the animal prints in his painting to create a chic and sophisticated collection of shoes, boots, handbags and scarves. “Working with David’s animal print was such a fun process,” Joseph said. “By combining the print with bold colors and on-trend embellishments, we created a collection that is uniquely Bromstad.”

“The fall collection is chic, sophisticated, bold, expressive… and let me just say it’s a whole lot of SEXY. The collection speaks to women of all ages – it’s very universal. In my spring collection for Naturalizer, I created a floral painting that was very happy and summery but for fall, I wanted to do something wildly different.”

Photos from the collection below…

Jimmy Fallon and Collaborate on “Ew”

Jimmy Fallon and are absolutely hilarious in this new song titled “Ew!”.

In the video, the two music loving comedians are dressed up as teenage girls, named Sara (a character that Jimmy Fallon has played before), and The duo raps about all the things that make them go ‘Ew’ including butt implants, duck lips, reclining airplane seats, and girls who are “basically basic”.

This video seriously had me cracking up the whole time – I love the over the top outfits and all the relevant pop culture references – these two are brilliant!

Note: Before watching, I would definitely change the YouTube video setting to 720 HD, otherwise the visuals are a little blurry. If you’re not sure how to change the setting, click on the ‘read more’ button. I’ve included a photo that pretty much explains it. Enjoy!

Day Trip: Pointe Helbronner in La Palud, Italy

In 2003, I traveled to Northern India, where I somehow gathered the courage to jump off a nearly nine thousand foot mountain, relying solely on a parachute to bring me back to the ground safely. I still remember standing at the top, debating whether or not to go through with the jump, or simply throw in the towel and take the car back down the mountain.

As my knees shook from fear, I made the decision that I would not back out and I jumped – what an exhilarating feeling! The closest I’ve come to that sensation since then was this afternoon, when I took not one, but two cable cars to ascend over 11,000 feet to the top of Pointe Helbronner, before climbing the longest and steepest set of stairs that I have ever seen in my life!

Kristen Colapinto Italy Mountain_n

Pointe Helbronner is located in La Palud, Italy, next to Monte Bianco, the tallest mountain in Europe. Although it was a warm day on the ground, by the time we reached the top of the mountain, it was snowy and cold. As we got closer to the top, I felt the same knot in my stomach and the weakening sensation in my legs that I felt years ago in the Himalayas. Now I’m a skier, so I’ve been on cable cars before – in fact, plenty of them.

This cable car, however, was the steepest one that I’ve ever been on and possibly also the oldest (well except for some of the lifts at Catamount – those things are ancient. But, they also don’t go very high so still less scary…).

The first cable car at Pointe Helbronner brought us to a landing zone that was still low enough in elevation to have plant life. At this level, there are lots of colorful flowers and also a really pretty view of the village below. There is even a restaurant with outdoor seating and a little gift shop. The ride up to this level wasn’t so bad. From this level, however, we boarded a second cable car to go (much) higher.

As the second cable car approached the top landing zone, we were riding on a nearly vertical wire. I couldn’t shake the feeling that at any moment, we might slip backwards and go railing down into our death! (I know, I know, I tend to err on the dramatic side – but seriously, check out the pics!)

Road Trip –> Slovenia to Saint Vincent, Italy

Map of Slovenia to Saint Vincent Italy

Perla Hotel & Casino in Nova Gorica, Slovenia

Still a little drowsy from the flight, I missed most of the drive from Venice to Slovenia. When I awoke, I was already at the front doorstep to Perla, the hotel & casino where JC and I would be staying for six days. Checking in was easy and the front desk even had gift bags waiting for us, containing information on the hotel as well as some fun souvenirs to remind us of our stay (pens, a lighter, etc.).

Casino Perla in Nova Gorica, Slovenia-DSC00702

The exterior of Perla, as well as the lobby is welcoming – clean and modern. The rooms were also clean, although slightly more dated in decor. As for food and entertainment, there is plenty to do on site: several restaurants, a spa with a pool and small gym, and of course, as the name implies, a casino. In fact, Perla houses a rather large casino, that according to the website is the largest casino in Europe! 

Road Trip –> Venice to Nova Gorica, Slovenia

Fresh off an overnight flight from New York City to Venice, JC and I hopped into a car provided by La Perla Resort and headed to Nova Gorica, Slovenia. Shortly after I buckled my seat belt, I drifted off into a deep sleep, making the nearly two hour drive feel more like ten minutes.

drive from venice to slovenia