Yearly Archives: 2011

Living In a Foreign Language

Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker

Living in a foreign language about sums up my life. I now live in two foreign languages and sometimes feel like my brain has become a blender.

Francesco and I have always spoken in Italian and with my French friends and in my daily life I speak in French. With my mother, my sisters and all my fabulous Aussie friends I speak in English.  No wonder I am exhausted at the end of the day when any word could whizz out in any language of it’s own accord. There are moments when I really feel like I have lost control of my ‘c-drive’. Francesco tells me I have my very own language – it’s called Carlese..It takes about half-a-bottle of red wine to understand it!

I have Living in a foreign language tucked into my luggage for Christmas and can’t wait to see what challenges the author strikes.  Michael Tucker sounds full of as much zest and love for Italy as moi!! Looking forward to curling up in front of the fire in Puglia to read it.

Baci e abbracci

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Glam Christmas – A Shoot from My Archives

Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson
Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson
Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson
 Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson
 Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson
Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson

Eve Magazine Copyright Carla Coulson

I had the great pleasure years ago to shoot a Christmas story for English magazine Eve. We shot the Christmas story in a beautiful Edwardian home in the heart of London with a gorgeous model and two mini-models!!
And what a glam Christmas the stylist created!If only I was so glam on Christmas day…
Shot using:
Tri-x 400 pushed two stops
Kinoflo continous neon lights created this soft light!

If you need  a little Christmas inspiration you might like:

The wonderful colours and a pared down Christmas at April and May
An easy no-fuss Christmas tree at Wish you Were Here
Three last minute decorating ideas at Bright Bazaar
France’s most loved priest at French Girl in Seattle
This incredible red dress at Dustjacket
And the photographers might like a refresh on how to shoot Christmas lights at Strobist
Henrietta Hassinen’s true meaning of Christmas
If you are behind time on the the gift giving and need some ideas check out my Italian Christmas list.
For cool French stuff this Christmas have a look here and if you have a budding portrait photographer in the family check this out.

What are you wearing this Christmas??

Shine On

Carla’s Italian Christmas list  Italy
Carla’s French Christmas list  France
Carla’s gift ideas for the budding portrait photographer

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‘French It’ This Christmas

Paris Canal Saint Martin – Copyright Carla Coulson

“Paris is romantic, dirty, warm, kind, rude, enchanting, frustrating, heavenly, infuriating and impossibly beautiful –  if you can’t see the beauty in Paris you must be blind.”.

This was Toro’s, my black and white printer’s definition of Paris when I asked him years ago what he thought of Paris.

I was still trying to find my feet in a city that I didn’t understand. I loved his definition and often when I am walking around Paris spying beauty or getting ignored at my local boulangerie I think of his words!!

My love affair with Paris (for those of you who have read Bridget Jones Diary or seen the movie) was more like Bridget’s relationship with Mr Darcy than with her sexy colleague Daniel!!

It certainly wasn’t love at first sight, my heart wasn’t thumping or I wasn’t going weak at the knees. I had to scratch the surface of Paris and dig deep into its layers to get it. Some, fall in love with Paris the first time they put their Louboutins on her cobblestones, others who have arrived from Latin countries (moi)  are reeling with the off-hand behaviour and the cold..

But just like Mark Darcy who won over the hilarious Bridget, Paris got her claws into me!! And they are well and truly stuck.. I know so many of you out there who are gah gah for Paris and if you want to take a little bit of Paris home this Christmas here are some of the things I love about Paris.

Yvon’s Paris

For all of you in love with photography and Paris you will lurvvvee Yvon’s Paris. Yvon was no ordinary photographer, he only shot Paris in a particular light that played on the moodiness of Paris and her beauty. Imagine a book with every photo shot in the same light!! Shot at the beginning of this century Yvon’s Paris it is a must for the nostalgic.

A friend of mine was working in an Italian restaurant in Paris when Alain Ducasse walked in and sat down for dinner. The owner instantly recognised Mr Ducasse and as any restaurant would (if one of the best chef’s in the world came for dinner) went into a flap. Mr Ducasse was researching J’aime Paris,  the above book so when I received it as  a gift I knew that his favourite Parisian addresses had been test driven by the man himself.

I love this book!! I have since given to other friends who love Paris and eating! What is great about this book is the restaurants aren’t all Michelin star joints, they even have my local falafel shop in it.. The second best thing is the little red book with all the addresses in J’aime Paris that comes with this weighty volume that one can tuck into your handbag and have it whenever the restaurant questions comes up!!

Paris loves Ines de la Fressange. Fashion muse and effortlessly stylish Parisian this is a little book about how to dress, shop and look like a Parisian.. If you want the look check out Parisian Chic.

I loved Sue Roe’s Book, The Private Lives of the Impressionists.. Ohh the struggle. On bad days when I think this photography thing is hard I just read through a chapter of The Private Lives of the Impressionist and bingo,  I feel better.

Boy were their lives tough and what a struggle to convince the establishment that their new style was not only beautiful but also saleable. I always think of Camille Pissaro when I see one of his paintings and admire his persistance – he held onto the end. He never gave up painting yet he lived his entire life in poverty and died poor. A shout  out for Pissaro!!

Paris by Cedric Klapisch

I remember watching Paris and thinking this is as close to real life in Paris as I have seen on the big screen. Beautifully shot, director Cedric Klapisch interweaves stories in a beautiful and heart warming way. Of course the fabulous Juliette Binoche is a pleasure to watch as is the marvellous Paris seen through Klapisch’s eyes..

Ohh soooo easy to watch the beautiful Audrey Tatou in Coco before Chanel. Cast as the young Coco Chanel, Audrey Tatou is effortlessly stylish and so damn beautiful!! This film gives a wonderful insight into how Coco really changed the way us women dress. If you love fashion and France you will adore Coco before Chanel.

I have beaten a trail to the Dyptique store on rue Francs Bourgeois in the Marais. If I have been once I have been 30 times!! I love Dyptique products especially the candles and the body creams and it is a gift I give with love!! Who wouldn’t want a house that smells of French chic.. The one above is fig and I adore it in the winter..

I love the ideas of postcards flying around the world with words of love on exquisite photos. These black and white images of Paris are particularly beautiful!!

The French are brilliant at stationery! They love their fine papers and exquisite lined envelopes with beautiful calligraphied addresses. And I love having them land in my mailbox. If you love fine paper and letter writting check these out

Keep the carambars away from me!! It might be the five year-old within (who is always trying to get out) but I am addicted to these caramel bars.. Carambars  are on sale everywhere in Paris which makes resisting them difficult! Good luck..

Converse are to Parisians what thongs are to the Aussies – essential footwear. You can wear your Converse to the opera, the fashion shows or to museums and nobody would bat an eyelid. I have them in red and black and where them with everything.. They are the new Hermes scarf??

They would take away a Frenchman’s (or an Italian’s) passport if he didn’t have a decent bottle opener. This is the one my hubby uses!!


Wishing and hoping and praying one day I will have a little of France’s most celebrated crystal, Baccarat

on my table to make washing the champagne bubbles down so much smoother!! Loving these Champagne flutes!!

For all of those of you who are checking out now I want to say many thanks for all your wonderful support this year for my blog, my photos and my books. I wish all you all lots of love and happiness during the holiday period and look forward to seeing you back here in the New Year. For those of you staying around.. stay tuned.

If you want to check out more cool French stuff for Christmas have a look here. If you want to have a look at some of my Italian Christmas Look here. And if you want to see what Vicki Archer has in her Christmas hampers have a look here.


Carla’s pick of Italy
Carla’s pick of France

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Five Hotels for A Chic Christmas in Florence

Hello Lovelies,
Thank-you for all your messages, emails and notes about my previous post about my Italian Christmas. It seems that I am not the only one on my way to Italy for Christmas. Sounds like lots of you are planning an Italian Christmas and you need some help..

One of the questions I am frequently asked about Florence (where I lived for 5 years) is where to stay. During my years in Florence I had the chance to photograph many beautiful hotels and had the great fortune to get to know some of their owners and managers well. Florence has a high concentration of gorgeous design hotels,  many made-over by the clever Architect Michele Bonan.

So for those of you heading to Florence this Chrismas and wanted to know where to stay in spetcular style here are Carla’s faves!!!!

Copyright JK Place

 Copyright JK Place

The clever and talented Ori Kafri slept in as many rooms possible in as many glamorous hotels around the world before planning his gorgeous hotel, JK Place. Like a chic gentleman’s residence in the heart of Florence JK Place is an art and design lover’s haven. Tucked away in a corner of Piazza Santa Maria Novella you are in walking distance of everything you wll need in florence.

 Copyright Hotel Gallery Art

Copyright Hotel Gallery Art

Hotel Gallery Art was revolutionary in Florence when it opened. It was Florence’s  first design Hotel  and in a rockstar location, a quiet Piazza right next to the Ponte Vecchio.
The other great thing I love about Hotel Gallery Art is the art collection. Serious contemporary art and photography is exhibited in the downstairs Gallery and the public are encourage to come on in and view the works.
They also have an incredible ‘aperitivo’ in their bar around twilight….Chic locals abound.

3. Continentale Florence

 Copyright Continentale Florence

 Copyright Continentale Florence

Continentale has a 50’s twist to their design. In the same Piazza as the Hotel Gallery Art Continentale has without a doubt some of the best views in Florence, a bird’s eye view of the Ponte Vecchio. Designed by the clever Michele Bonan who also designed JK Place and Hotel Gallery Art.

Copyright Carla Coulson

Copyright Carla Coulson

If your pockets are full of cash this Christmas and you want to stay in not only Florence’s most luxurious hotel but also in it’s most historic head straight for the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. Formely Palazzo Gheradesca, home to the Florentine noble family of the same name has all the trimmings you would expect of a Florentine palazzo – handpainted frescoes, original handpainted wallpapers, grand staircases and incredible grounds. I love this building and the designer kept the wonderful original features. The entrance on Borgo Pinti hides hectares of park with four hundred year old trees.

If your budget can’t take all the above hotels you might like to try the Hotel dei Macchioli. I recently stayed here with my sister and her husband and found this hotel delightful.
In an historic building with an incredible painted wooden ceiling Hotel dei Macchioli is two steps away from the Duomo and had lovely recently renovated rooms.
They give themselves 3 stars  (probably because of the flight of stairs to the reception but the delightful staff will carry your bags)..but by Italian hotel standards my guess it is more like a 4 star..

For all of you who won’t be visiting Italy this Christmas I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour of Florence. And for those of you dreaming of Italy you might like to check out my Italian Christmas List. 

Buon Viaggio

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Give ‘Italy’ This Christmas

Florence Copyright Carla Coulson

I am off to Italy for Christmas this year!
I was secretly hoping that I might be able to jump on a plane and spend it with my family in Australia but that looks like a slim chance at the moment. Instead I am off to my other family in Puglia to spend Christmas all’italiana.
If I can’t spend it with my family in Australia there is no other family I would rather sit around a long table groaning with food  than with Francesco’s family. I have an inkling they are baking, chopping, preparing and cooking as I write.
The celebrations (and eating) start on Christmas Eve and go non-stop till we roll back onto the plane a week later.
It feels as though we pass the entire holidays at the table. Each meal blurs into the next and when we struggle up from the table a week has passed.
The baccala has blended with the panzarottis, the cime de rape and the dolce - thank-god for the grappa to wash it all down.
For all of you (like me) who love Italy with a passion I have my Chrissie list ready chock full of Italian, films, books, music and design. All the things I have listed below have got my heart thumping through the years and as Italy has been good to me, I am going to be good to her.
I am giving Italy this Christmas!!

I devoured Gods Mountain in a two hour trip home from Naples to Paris. This tender story of a thirteen year old Neapolitan boy brought tears to me eyes. So beautiful.

I love Zoe Boccabella’s taleof discovering Italy through her Italian families home in Abruzzo. I adored her boyfriend in the book who was so totally in love with everything Italian that he reminded me of myself when I first landed in Italy.

Let’s face it what Italy lover doesn’t dream about owning their own slice of Italy. I sure do. I have stalked real estate windows in every town in Italy. Wishing and hoping and praying there is a bargain for Carla!! I know the fabulous Lisa at renovating Italy has dived in.. If you do want to end up owning what the real estate agent has promised this book will help!!

I am mad for all things Mediterranean.. I have pored over every page and plant in this book dreaming of my Mediterranean garden. I love Heidi Gildemeistersapproach to a waterwise garden, imagine not ever having to water the garden and how fabulous for the planet. I just need the garden!!

The first thing that happens in our morning is the struggle to the kitchen to get the Moka on the stove and the coffee pumping. Our Moka is on its last legs so I am dreaming of this beautifully designed Alessi number to give our kitchen a lift and to make our morning even prettier.

I just have to look at this can and I think of my husband. If I ever had to pass an immigration test (aka the film Greencard) about what brand of coffee ‘his gorgeousness’ drinks I would do it with flying colours. He has Illy stamped all over him.

Francesco’s grandmother has promised more pasta making lessons this Christmas. The dear woman has persevered with me and my big mits punching holes in what should be ‘little ears’ (orecchiette). This Christmas she has promised to show me how to make lasagne and tagliatelle and she has a little machine clamped onto her kitchen bench just like the one above that squeezes out lovely flat pasta.

Tessa Kiros has made me look like a queen (or at least a cook)! After having the great fortune to spend almost two years in a Florentine kitchen with the divine Popi I longed to cook all those Tuscan classics that Popi often cooked up. And then I found Twelve. I love Twelvefor many reasons. First the recipes really work and I mean really work!! I have grown-ups scraping their plates after serving Tessa’s lemon and almond cake. About 200 people have asked me for this recipe. I also love that the book is divided into the twelve seasons. In the middle of winter when there is only a carrot and a pumpkin on my vege stall at the local market I flick to December and Tessa has a recipe for these two forlorn winter vegetables. Fabulous

Bread and Tulipshas to be one of my all time favourite Italian films. I think I have seen it about half-a-dozen times and loved every romantic inch of it. It is the story of a women who is in a love-less marriage and on holiday with her family and gets left at a truck stop. She hitches a ride with someone going to Venice and never wants to go home. Venice has never looked so good as in this film. CARLA LOVES THIS FILM!!!

Shot in beautiful Puglia this film was a huge hit in Italy. Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) is a story of  two brothers who both want to come out and the families reaction. A beautiful second story runs through this film of the boys grandmother. Somewhere between hilarious and tragic

Guiseppe Tornatore’s masterpiece Cinema Paradiso, that many say is an auto-biographical story on Tornatore’s love affair with cinema as a young boy living in a small town in Sicily. This is a ‘two boxes of Kleenex’ film if you have a romantic heart like mine and is a wonderful nostalgic look at Sicily.

Murano! Can they do anything wrong? I have been drooling over these glasses for sometime now. What about that smoke effect created with the beautiful blue??

I guarantee an Oil and Vinegar set sits on every Italian table. But this oil and vinegar set are for the design freak in all of us. Two design masters created these, Italian design guru Ettore Sottsassand those incredible folks at Alessi..They are on my wish list

Reminds me of summer days sitting on a canvas beach chair at Da Adolfo near Positano  drinking their white wine with fresh peaches. Da Adolfo serves it from a beautiful ceramic pitcher just like this.. I just have to see one of these and I feel like heading to Positano.  Would also look great in my future Italian country home one day!!

Francesco introduced me to the effervescent Vinicio Capossela. I love all sorts of Italian music and Vinicio definately has his own sound. But for me his music will be forever linked to Francesco and us driving to the fartherest corners of Puglia with Vinicio in the background.

I am not sure whether this should be technically in my Italian list but for me this chair will be forever linked to my Italian memories. I sat in this fabulous Wassily chair (designed by legendary Bauhaus founder Marcel Breuer) most days during my two year sojuorn at Popi’s.  Cool cat Popi had her house made-over in the 70’s and she has more design pieces than most showrooms. I always loved that she was never precious about them and let us all lie around on her Le Corbusier lounge and let us do our homework swinging in her Wassily Chair.

My list goes on and on with things I love about Italy..If you dare you can check out more of my favourites here.

What are you giving for Chirstmas??

Italy Forever

ps: these are Carla’s pick of Italy

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