Best Getaway - 2008
The Rosenclaire House
Phoenix poet, knitter, artist, and yogini hipster Julie Hampton just can't take no for an answer. When a counselor at the Small Business Administration told her she was crazy to think she could buy a rustic medieval house in Italy and turn it into a vacation home/retreat, she ignored his small-mindedness and found a way to do just that. This three-bedroom, two-bath faraway dream turned reality — she calls it the Rosenclaire House — is yours to rent by the week, the month, whatever. It sleeps six and sits atop a tiny northern Tuscan village of Vitiana just waiting for you to prepare regional slow fare in its kitchen (never cooked in a kitchen with a hearth?), write your novel, or perform sun salutes in the upstairs loft with its breathtaking (we know it's cliché, but there's really no better word) view of Vitiana and Tuscany's chestnut-forested Garfagnana region below.
You think you've eaten fresh eggs, real cheese, and tomatoes as Zeus intended them? Here in Phoenix? Yeah, Chris Bianco's good, but he's not the village farmer trudging up the cobblestone path with a bucket of wholesome freshness. We can't figure out just what it is that makes the food so delicious, the sleep so deep, the sun so warm (in a good way), and we sure as hell can't figure out how to get it back here to the Valley. Leave leaning towers and naked statues to the tourists. Vitiana is the real dolce vita.