Hotel to Home: The Jefferson, Washington, DC

We’re traveling to Washington, DC today to check into the luxurious Jefferson. The hotel has high ratings, and absolutely stunning suites. The decor is traditional in style, but it doesn’t look stuffy or intimidating as I find sometimes can happen in these types of spaces.Jefferson-Washington-Hotel

I had a go at recreating the space. Here’s what I came up with:

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vintage upholstered bed, slipper chair, side table, Bergere chair, lamp, cashmere throw, orchids, pillow

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Before & After: My White Peugeot Gets a Makeover

As you  may recall, I’ve been on the lookout for a new bike. Waterloo (the city and region) is quite bike friendly, and it’s so easy to get from Uptown Waterloo to Downtown Kitchener on one of the paths. Biking around these parts is convenient, doable, and safe. My pinkie is a good bike, but it’s a mountain bike and heavy. It’s also not as cute as some of the retro bikes currently on the market.

I looked at quite a number of hip bike companies online as I was doing research (e.g., Public, Linus, Tokyobike) as well as some of the traditional go-to stores (e.g., Canadian Tire). I didn’t pull the trigger on a bike purchase until I learned about a vintage Peugeot on the ol’ Kijiji. Oh, Kijiji.

I was even slow to decide about the Peugeot as I knew it needed some work, and although I’m really good at envisioning before and afters in home renovations, I really couldn’t wrap my head around a bike makeover.

In the end, I couldn’t pass up on a bike that was made in France in the 1970s that was white, gold, black, and, did I already say French? Oui, oui! So I bought the darn thing. And it was dirty. And I wasn’t even certain it could be “renovated.”

Here are the before photos:

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I started the cleaning process on my own just to see what I was dealing with. (Side note: do not mix cleaning materials such as stove cleaner and CLR as you might end up with slight chemical burns. Oops. #DIYfail #thankgoodnessIwaswearinggloves) White-Cabana-Peugeot-6

Anyhoo – fast forward a few weeks, and I’ve learned quite a bit about bikes. What I’ve learned (correct me if I’m wrong), is that just about everything on a bike can be replaced. If the frame is good, then you’re off to a perfect start. Some people buy vintage bikes just for the frame, in fact.. Does that make sense? With encouragement from others, and a bunch of online searching, I was convinced that my white Peugeot had major potential.

As I knew I needed some replacement parts (um, did you see the rusty chain?), I threw (gently but not gracefully) my made-in-France vintage Peugeot into the back of my Rav4, and I took it on over to the Berlin Bicycle CafĂ© (it’s a cafe and repair shop, by the way) for some TLC.

I had Joan’s vintage Peugeot in my mind as my ideal end-result bike, and I even started a Peugeot Pinterest board to store my bike makeover ideas. Graham and his team at the Berlin Bicycle CafĂ© took good care of my bike and found parts that suited the style, made the bike functional, and were well-made (hello German tires, I’m looking at you!).

When I picked up my bike last week, I was pleased with how it all came together. Have a look:

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My Peugeot now has made-in-Germany Schwalbe tires, new tire rims, silver brake levers, white cable cords (so so nice!), a Brooks England B67 saddle, cork grips, and a fantastic totally-reminds-me-of-Euro-bikes kickstand. Oh, and a gold bell. Can’t forget the bell!

The Berlin Bicycle CafĂ© team also shined up the fenders and handlebars, so the bike (for a 1970s bike) looks just about brand new. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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Two for Tuesday: White, Black, and a Stripe of Red

I picked up a pair of Converse while I was in Florida last month as my black ones got too worn out and needed to be replaced. I opted for an off-white dainty Chuck Taylor,and they’re working out well so far. They’re great to slip-on for a bike ride, or a walk around town. The slimmer version also means they’re lighter than the original Chuck Taylor’s, and I think that they’ll be a nice change from my last pair of laceless slip-ons.

All this to say that my new kicks have inspired today’s two-of-a-kind post.

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Converse Chuck Taylor All Star low-top, $50 USD

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via Daily Dream Decor

And here’s a bonus room that includes the white backdrop and red piping details:

liz-carroll-interiors-bedroom-red-piping Liz Carroll Interiors

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Marketplace: TYR Triathlon Gear

Recently, after a delicious BBQ and a couple of drinks with Tim and Chris, my friends and I agreed to sign up for a triathlon relay. As you do, right? As none of us felt prepared to complete a full triathlon on our own, but each of us had skills in one of the required areas (swim, bike, run), we figured a relay was the way to go (we’re calling ourselves #TeamCHI). And by doing the relay, we are able to join our one friend (Chris) who is doing the full triathlon; it’s going to be a day of adventure for all of us! This will be my first triathlon relay experience, and I’m excited!

On my relay team, I’m in charge of the swim portion – 750m in a lake. A lake! 750m! I was slightly nervous a couple of weeks ago when I first jumped in the pool for my first length swim in several many years and felt out of breath after 300m. Since that first swim though, I’ve built my endurance and I’m now good for 1000m (900m crawl + 100m breast). Now that I’m feeling more confident about my endurance, I’m reading up on how to mentally prepare. I’m not actually nervous, but more icked-out by swimming in a lake. The water is going to be dark, and I’ll be swimming alongside fish. Um. Yeah. Just slightly icked-out.

Chris – the full-tri guy – is mentoring and encouraging me as he’s completed several triathlons in the past. He’s let me know that a wet suit is a must because not only will it help with the ick-factor, but it’ll also help with buoyancy in the water which will help my swim speed. Awesome.

So, naturally, I turned to my favourite athletic swim company – TYR – to check out their triathlon gear. I’ve collaborated with TYR in the past, and I’m thrilled that they’ve agreed to sponsor Chris and I in this triathlon. I’ve been wearing TYR since my lifeguarding days way back when (and probably even before those days when I was swimming and taking lessons as a kid). To prep, I’ve been swimming at my local pool* wearing my TYR athletic bikini and my trusty TYR swim cap, so all I need to add now is the wetsuit.

I’m new to the wetsuit market, so I did some research before ordering through TYR. There are sleeveless and sleeved wetsuits:

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 1, $174.99

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 1, $124.99 (on sale) Isn’t the back fantastic? I love that sleek silver panel.

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men’s hurricane wetsuit cat 5, $499.99

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 2, $349.99

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women’s hurricane freak of nature wetsuit, $1199.99 (instant abs on this one!)

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men’s hurricane wetsuit cat 3 (detail), $549.99

I was convinced to go with a sleeved suit after speaking with some other people and reading various triathlon guides. Each of the TYR wetsuits are specially designed to be super sleek and flexible. The wetsuits are also designed with triathletes in mind (e.g., the Category 3 wetsuit, for example, has quick release ankle cuffs to ease removal), and various panel designs in the suits assist the swimmer’s buoyancy. Very neat.

Once our suits arrive, Chris and I are going to take them for a test swim in the pool. Wish us luck as we squeeze ourselves into these sleek suits. I think I’m going to feel like I’m a superhero once mine is on!

Does anyone have any experience swimming in a wetsuit? If so, please share! I’d love to learn from you!

*Another reason I love living in Waterloo – I have a 50m length pool within walking distance. This makes swim training really convenient!

Thanks to TYR for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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The Friday Five: Agenda Round-Up

Do you get a new agenda at the start of the new year or the start of the school year? Since I’ve been a forever-student/forever-teacher, I’m in the habit of buying one in August, so that I’m ready to go in September.

When I was in Florida, I picked up this gold agenda from Target.

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Sugar Paper agenda, $10.78CAD

It was inexpensive, small (3×6″), easy to throw into my purse, and has both the weekly and monthly schedule pages. So far, I’m happy with it.

Here are four other agendas that caught my eye:

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weekly simplified planner, Emily Ley, $52CAD (on sale)

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mini Day Designer agenda, $67CAD

Sugar-Paper-Agenda-2017-Target Sugar Paper monthly/weekly planner, $20CAD

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daily design love planner – blush, $50

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Hotel to Home: Luxury Travel with Singapore Airlines

I thought I’d go up in the air for today’s hotel to home – as in an actual airplane! I have yet to experience anything but economy class in my years of traveling (last time I tried to upgrade to a nearly-empty business class on a Copenhagen-Toronto flight, I actually couldn’t. As in, noone would help me process the upgrade. Story for another day…), so my jaw nearly dropped when I had a peek into Singapore Airlines’ stunning suites and first class cabins. Yes, I said suites…with actual doors! On an airplane! Want to see what I’m talking about? Read on.

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via FlightFox

So how do you create this look at home? With a simple colour palette, of course! Here’s what I’ve got in mind…

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white bedding with brown trim, storage bin, tray, champagne flutes, mirror, coasters, headphones

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Marketplace: Unique Items at UncommonGoods

Online retailer UncommonGoods recently contacted me to see if I would be interested in shopping for some unique items. I’ve known about UncommonGoods for a while now, but I hadn’t ever ordered anything, so I thought I’d give it a try to learn more about what this company is all about.

It won’t take you long to recognize that the collection of items at UncommonGoods is just that – uncommon. Out of the ordinary. Unique. Different. Interesting. Soon after this initial thought, you might notice that the product selection and variety is large. Luckily, the search filters are effective and specific, so if you’re searching for something specific (e.g., gift for a kid), then you’ll get to that area of the site in no time. The site has a ton of cool gadgets for hard-to buy loved ones, birthday gifts for her, for him, and for kids, and the all-so-popular personalized gifts (isn’t this personalized family art adorable?).

As I often do in sites that have a large product line, I search by colour (white, obviously). This narrows things down easily and really helps me to focus my search. From there, I might expand to other colours (black, stainless). Alternatively, I search by need (e.g., kids, food, art). UncommonGoods search bar and filters really did work well for me, and I found items that suit my style (personal and for gifting!).

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All the Palm Trees in Florida, $251.61CAD (I also like All the Taxis in New York)

olive-oilpure extra virgin olive oil, $34CAD, (US shipping only)

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shave box set, $78.88CAD (US shipping only)

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men’s organizing travel pack, $62.56CAD

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women’s organizing travel pack, $65.28CAD

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mealtime stacking set, $59.84CAD

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empanada fork, $27.20CAD

UncommonGoods was founded in 1999 by Dave Bolotsky, and since then, he and his team has been devoted to connecting makers of unique items to consumers in an easy way.

I placed my order, and I was pleased to see that the taxes and duties were calculated before check-out. This means that there will be no extra payment surprises once my items arrive at my door. I’m sure other Canadian shoppers will appreciate this checkout option as well. Finally, when I had a question about shipping, I contacted customer service, and I received a reply within just a few minutes. I was very pleased about this, too!

Thanks to UncommonGoods for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Personal: White Cabana is up for an Amara Blogger Award!

Last week was pretty darn exciting in my blog life as my nomination for an Amara Interior Blogger award went live! I’m up for an award in the Best International Interiors Blog award, and I couldn’t be more pumped. I’m in the company of some amazing Canadian and other international bloggers, and I feel so darn grateful.

Amara-Interiors-Blog-Awards-1Voters (aka you!) have until September 9th to cast your ballots in this and all categories, so get to it. If you feel like I’m deserving, please please please vote for me (here)! And check out all the other categories, too! Some blogs, I’m sure you’ll recognize, and many will also be new to you. Who doesn’t love more reading material and online inspiration? I can’t be the only one, surely.Amara-Interiors-Blog-Awards-2

Once voting ends on September 9th, the top 5 bloggers in each category move on to the next round – the expert judging panel. Shortlists are announced on September 14th,  judging day is September 21st, and the awards ceremony – in London, UK – is on October 20th.

So, if all you do today is to vote for White Cabana, then I think that would be a day well spent. Yes?

p.s. Tell your friends, colleagues, and family members to vote, too.

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Travel: Things to Do and See in Florence

Oh, Florence. With help from the Expedia.ca team, I was lucky enough to spend just about 5 days in Florence in June, and it was a very special visit. My dad and I had the most incredible tour guide (Ciao Ivo!), and my cousin (Ciao Roby!) joined us for a couple of days, too. The four of us had a grand ol’ time, and I’ve been eager to share the highlights with you. Here we go!

See and Do

1. San Miniato al Monte

On our first day in Florence, Ivo drove us up to San Miniato al Monte. The church is an architectural masterpiece with carved stone floors, carved walls, intricate ceilings, and marble inlay everything. It’s beautiful.

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San Miniato al Monte

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Dad and il famoso Ivo – and Florence in the background

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the magnificent carved stone floorSan-Miniato-al-Monte-Florence-3

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always look up – the ceiling work was crazy good

Visitors can certainly walk (hike up to) the church, but going in the car was much easier on our feet and legs.

Outside the church, we saw the most beautiful magnolia trees and incredibly fragrant jasmine. Oh, readers, it was amazing!

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2. The Uffizi

The Uffizi Gallery in the centre of Florence houses some incredible art. It holds the largest collection of Italian masterpieces (someone correct me if I’m wrong, please). And some of the art you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The museum is home to pieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and da Vinci (basically all the Ninja Turtles…and then some!).

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Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Franceschi

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The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

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always look up – a gilded ceiling

If you decide to go, you may want to reserve your ticket in advance (easy to do in person) so that you can skip the long lines. Doing so will only cost you a few more Euros than the admission price.

3. Ponte Vecchio

It’s worth going to the Ponte Vecchio because (a) how could you miss it, (b) it’s one cool bridge, (c) the views of and from the bridge are pretty amazing. I, however, could avoid going here on future visits. It’s absolutely crowded with tourists, the shops of gold have very few customers in them, and it’s really just a place of chaos. It’s not for me.

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4. The Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella

The Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is a short walk away from the main crowded tourist areas, and it’s housed in an absolutely gorgeous building. You wouldn’t really know this from the outside, but once you’re in, you’ll notice beautiful tile work, grand ceilings, and artfully displayed pharmacy products in glass cases. It’s also a shop, so if you’re looking for beautiful soaps and toiletries, this is your place.

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always look up – a painted ceiling and a gorgeous chandelier

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classic apothecary

5. Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

Florence is the home of great fashion houses like Gucci and Ferragamo. And these two fashion houses each have a museum. I went to the Museo Ferragamo one day because I needed a break from the crowds and heat, and it was a small, approachable museum. Inside, I found gorgeous shoes, dresses, and artwork. Yes. It was worth a visit.

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6. Pitti Uomo

Okay. Even though Pitti Uomo invaded Florence while I was there, driving hotel prices up, up, and then even farther up (see my rant below), it was absolutely wonderful and inspiring to be in Florence during the expo. Buyers, designers, and the fashionable folk were in full force, and for us onlookers, it was a feast for our fashion senses! I have never seen so many beautifully dressed men. The suits, the colours, the shoes, the attitude…wow, wow, wow! Totally dandy!

Oh – and just about every store on Via De’Tornabuoni was having a party. Some were open to the public, so my cousin and I obviously stopped in and had a toast with the fashion set of Florence!

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7. Richard Ginori Shop

I was excited to see the Richard Ginori flagship. Richard Ginori is a well-known Italian porcelain brand that has recently been acquired by Gucci. The designs of these hand-painted fine china pieces are just incredible. Even if you don’t appreciate fine china, it’s worth a visit to the store. Both the building and the product displays are aesthetically stunning. Go.

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I happened to go on a day where one of the Ginori artists, Elisa Verniani, was painting away by the entry. I was mesmerized by the delicate movement of her paintbrush. She was also very pleasant and friendly and answered about a bajillion questions. (p.s. shout out also the kind couple who joined our chat and complimented me on my Italian. Grazie!)

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the finished product (it takes about two weeks to complete)

8. Il Duomo

Il Duomo is yet another Florence landmark. It’s a stunning building, and no amount of photos can actually evoke the feeling you get when you’re near it, walking around it, touring inside of it. It’s magnificent.

We learned that there is an entrance fee to the Basillico. We managed to avoid the fee by working our Italian connection (long story for another day).

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I got my cousin jumping (blurry but fun!)

Stay

Florence is constantly busy with tourists, conferences, and events, but I think I booked my trip during the absolute busiest time of the year. You see, Pitti Uomo (the men’s fashion expo) was in town while I was there and the city was invaded by 30,000+ extra people. OMG. I had my first taste of the busyness when I was booking my hotel. Prices had sky-rocketed, and it was impossible (truly!) to get a hotel for less than $300.

Originally, I had booked an apartment via Expedia.ca, and I was so happy with this option because of my longer stay in the city. About a month or so before I left Canada, however, the apartment person contacted me and told me it was double booked for part of my stay, so although the lady offered an alternative stay for 2 nights, this was going to be rather inconvenient, so I opted to use Expedia.ca’s cancellation policy and start a new booking.

So, back to the drawing board. There were slim pickings in terms of hotel rooms and apartment options a month before Pitti Uomo (and my vacation), so I opted for the Hotel Curtatone near Santa Maria Novella, which is about a 15 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio. The nightly rate was $300+ during the week I was there (it’s around $150-$200 during non-Pitti Uomo days). It’s clean, but I wouldn’t stay there again.

It’s noted as a 3-star hotel, but it was miles behind the  3-star hotels I stayed at in Rimini and Bologna. The air conditioning didn’t work on the first night and we received some bu**s*** story about it. (This is when it really helps to know the local language so as to not be taken advantage of.) The room was clean, but not spectacular. The balcony in the second room I had (yes, I switched rooms during my stay) was definitely a nice addition. The breakfast was mediocre (as in, there was no Nutella and the croissants and toast bread wasn’t great; the yogurt was fine though). I did like the location as it was away from the main touristy areas, and after days of touring in noisy crowds, it was nice to sleep in a quiet area. Final point – I would not stay at this hotel again.

So where would I stay? If I stayed in the centre of Florence again, I’d stay at the Hotel Lungarno. It’s white and beautiful. It’s right in the middle of the action and has gorgeous views of the river and Ponte Vecchio.

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Likely, though, I’d completely avoid the centre of the Florence at this time of year. I’d get completely out of the city and stay in a neighbouring small town like Fiesole. I would take the bus to Florence (or have a rental car), and experience the quieter side of the region.

Eat

Food in Florence, like elsewhere in Italy, is reasonably priced, and, really, you just can’t beat Italian food. I didn’t have one bad meal in my two weeks in the country. Not even a bad snack. Everything was just so yummy! Here are two of my foodie recommendations for you.

1. Venchi gelato

If you’re in Florence (or anywhere in Italy) during the warmer months, I challenge you to go even one day without eating gelato. It’s the best snack/treat/meal to eat while touring towns/cities/villages. The. Best. I miss it a lot. It’s also acceptable to eat gelato twice a day. Just as an FYI.

One of the popular gelaterias that began in Florence is Venchi. It’s a chocolate lovers’ heaven. The gelato is excellent, and I should know as I made several visits during my stay.

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And don’t worry if you can’t make it to Venchi, just eat gelato from whatever place inspires you. And try as many flavours as you possibly can because once you leave Italy, you won’t find the same gelato elsewhere.

2. All’Antico Venaio

This hole-in-the-wall panini place – All’Antico Venaio – is bustling. There’s always a line-up, the food is ridiculously fresh and delicious, and the street is lined with people sitting on the edge of the road eating paninis. Talk about un casino. There’s an All’Antico Venaio on either side of the street. One of them is a sit-down place, but I liked the hustle and bustle of the take-out only counter.

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my panini with a view of the osteria (sit-down) side of All’Antico Vinaio

So, there you have it, dear readers, a glimpse into my trip to Florence. Have you been? Would you go back?

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA.

Other posts in this series: Booking with Expedia.ca, 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent, Things to do in Rimini, Italy, Stay and Play in Bologna, Italy, Things that Amuse Me about Italy

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