Ac­tress, Model & Life­style Ex­pert Alessan­dra Ford Balazs gives an in­side scoop on her favourite sum­mer hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions & se­cret spots in her home city.

World Travel Magazine - - Contents -

Model & ac­tress Alessan­dra Ford Balazs shares her favourite des­ti­na­tions for the sum­mer break and New York’s best-kept se­crets.

Sum­mer Break Des­ti­na­tions

Shel­ter Is­land in New York is a small is­land about 2 and a 1/2 hours drive from the city. I spend as much time on the wa­ter as I can dur­ing the sum­mer and this re­laxed is­land town pro­vides a much-needed re­prieve. Only a 10-minute ferry ride to the Hamp­tons, it’s only a stone’s throw away, but still feels like a spoil­ing es­cape. My in­sider tips:

Stay and in­vite your friends for a long, late lunch at Sun­set Beach - a small motel con­verted into a charm­ing ho­tel hide­away right on the beach. The name is truly fit­ting, as you can watch some of the most breath­tak­ing sun­sets with a glass of rosé.

Stop by Marie Eif­fel’s Mar­ket for break­fast and cof­fee, or some de­li­cious desserts.

If you’re a wa­ter fa­natic like me, rent a boat and spend the day go­ing around the is­land. You can also pack a pic­nic to en­joy when you drop an­chor in the bay to en­joy the pic­turesque views.

Last sum­mer I spent a week in Florence, it was the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of his­tor­i­cal art and cul­ture, mixed with ocean waves and seaside fun. As there are so many things to see, I rec­om­mend spread­ing your sight­see­ing over a course of a few days. There are a few lesser-known gems to en­joy be­tween visits to his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments.

Piero Puliti – a charm­ing be­spoke men’s cloth­ing store that has main­tained its au­then­tic­ity and old-school Ital­ian flare.

Scuola del Cuoio – hid­den within the wind­ing cob­ble­stone roads of Florence is a beau­ti­ful old leather school that still uses and teaches Re­nais­sance tech­niques to make the finest leather goods. You can watch the ar­ti­sans as they work and pur­chase a one of a kind piece to take home. One of my favourite purses is from Scuola del Cuoio.

For lunch on the river with a beau­ti­ful view, go to Golden View Firenze and ask for a ta­ble by the open win­dows so you can en­joy the scenery as you eat. The Shrimp Crudo and the Oys­ters are un­for­get­table!

I love ex­plor­ing Europe in the sum­mer— es­pe­cially the coastal cities. We drove from Florence to Por­tovenere, where we rented a boat and set off to visit five old seaside vil­lages. While you can take a train or walk through the towns, there is some­thing spe­cial about trav­el­ling on the wa­ter and see­ing them from an en­tirely dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

Un­like many coast­lines, this area has not yet been overde­vel­oped and its beauty is cap­ti­vat­ing--with ex­treme land­scapes and build­ings tee­ter­ing on hills that dra­mat­i­cally drop into the crys­tal clear ocean.

Nes­tled at the top of a nar­row stone stair­case, you will find Belforte in Porto di Ver­nazza--a ro­man­tic restau­rant over­look­ing the har­bour and the per­fect place to en­joy Ital­ian wine and cuisine as you watch the sun­set.

If you de­cide to eat in Por­tovenere, go to Pal­maria for sweep­ing views on the ter­race and lo­cal cuisine.

I highly rec­om­mend vis­it­ing Castello Do­ria

in Por­tovenere. The old cas­tle tow­ers on the cliffs at the edge of the port and is wrought with his­tory.

Ex­plore the shock­ingly pink sand and stone that form the coast­line coves in Mon­terosso.

The wa­ter in this cove is par­tic­u­larly clear and you can find a few caves to snorkel through.

My love for New York…

The prox­im­ity to ev­ery­thing is very ap­peal­ing to me. You can get so much ac­com­plished in one day. I love the in­trin­si­cally am­bi­tious and artis­tic na­ture of peo­ple who live in New York. New York is full of cre­ators and I can’t help but feel in­spired ev­ery time I walk out my front door. From pop-up restau­rants to art in­stal­la­tions on the streets, there are al­ways new ad­ven­tures beg­ging to be had.

New York’s Best kept Se­crets

Marie’s Cri­sis is prob­a­bly New York City’s best-kept se­cret. It is a his­toric pi­ano bar in the West Vil­lage, where you can sing show tunes un­til the wee hours of the morn­ing amongst your favourite Broad­way per­form­ers.

Best slice of pizza? Joe’s Pizza. If you google it, you will find 1000 places, but there is only one real Joe’s Pizza and that’s at 7 Carmine Street, Green­wich Vil­lage!

Omen - A small Ja­panese Restau­rant in Soho that is well known amongst the fashion in­dus­try, and still re­mains a se­cret to tourists.

Free kayak­ing on the West Side High­way. And if you want to add more ad­ven­ture, go up the high­way and jump on the trapeze for some truly beau­ti­ful views.

If you come to NYC in the sum­mer you must go to Grand Banks and have a glass of Rosé and plat­ter of Oys­ters. En­joy the wa­ter’s breeze as you sit on the sail­boat and watch the sun­set.

One of the best pop-up restau­rants I have tried re­cently is Bo­hemian, a tiny Ja­panese restau­rant hid­den be­hind a butcher’s store in the East Vil­lage.

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