Mr. Sid "Sid Says" Blog: Travel Season
Travel season is finally here. Will you jet to Europe, the Caribbean, or perhaps somewhere more exotic? All, none, or can’t decide? We broke it down to help make the tough choice a little easier.
Europe: Any of the big cities--like Rome, Paris, and Milan--are guaranteed to be crawling with tourists. If you want to skip the lines and the hustle and bustle of industry in favor of seeking out the road less traveled, try Norcia, Italy. 70 miles outside of Rome, Norcia’s artisanal culinary traditions endure. Pecorino cheese is aged for two years, trained dogs sniff out black truffles in the woodlands, and honey is sourced from the red wildflowers that bloom in the plains. But it’s the cinghiale that takes pride of place. Throughout the centro storico, the scent of spiced wild-boar salumi carries from the norcineria (delis) into the traffic-free roads. Step past the prosciutti hanging in storefronts to find shopkeepers curing cuts of the pork with methods perfected over the past 800 years. Ask them to slice up fresh ciauscoli, and bring it to the Piazza San Benedetto, where villagers celebrate the Festival of Saint Benedict in the spring.
The Caribbean: Ah, the island life. But which island meets and exceeds your impeccable taste and high standards? Answer: Jade Mountain in St. Lucia. This architectural marvel by owner/designer Nick Troubetzkoy is so mesmerizing that you might retreat to your private sanctuary and not be seen for days. Complete with an iridescent tiled infinity pool and four-poster bed draped in billowing mosquito netting, Jade Mountain's rooms, built into the mountainside, have no fourth wall so you can gaze out at picture-perfect views of the twin peaks of St. Lucia's Pitons. While your major domo butler anticipates every need, you'll be tempted to leave your sanctuary for a private dinner on the Celestial Terrace featuring Jade Mountain Club's mouthwatering organic cuisine.
Exotic: Moscow, Antarctica, Cairo? What about newly accessible Havana, Cuba? Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Havana was once unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Now you can watch the old city and much of its fine Spanish Colonial architecture crumble in front of your eyes. Head for Old Havana to explore the churches and reconstructed Spanish-style mansions found in and around the three stunning plazas of Catedral, Armas and Vieja. Before leaving, you have to see how Cuban cigars are made. Partagrás is one of the oldest, largest cigar factories in Havana, and is where they roll brands like Cohiba and Romeo and Juliet. They’ll explain to you how using different proportions of types of tobacco leaves (scent, taste, and burning) is what makes each brand different, and you’ll get to watch a live demonstration.
Regardless of the destination, you know you’ll need to pack the essentials. This season is all about fine leather: shave kits, cigar cases, business card holders--even a leather-covered flask.