Stylishly Solo – The Catania Travel Guide

Hi Everyone!

The pandemic put a lot of plans on hold for many people, myself included. Travelling seemed like a dream that I would escape to anytime I was feeling isolated and boxed in by life. This year though – I finally took my first vacation after three long years! I made the decision in early May when I realized that I was hitting burn out and my anxiety was at an all time high. I booked two weeks off in September and gave myself something to look forward to. I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do but I knew that I needed to feed my travel loving soul. I gave it a bit of thought over the following few weeks and finally settled on Sicily. It wouldn’t be my first time in Italy but it would be my first time visiting south of Amalfi and I was looking forward to exploring, learning and challenging myself in a new environment. After doing a bit of research and speaking with a colleague who had recently visited Sicily I settled on visiting four cities during my vacation – Palermo, Cefalu, Catania and Ortigia Island. I have now been back a week from my travels and I can honestly say that I had my best vacation yet. Sicily is not the easiest place to visit and I definitely had my fair share of challenges but the culture, the food, the people and the environment are all incredible and worth planning a vacation there to experience for yourself. Over the next few weeks I will be posting travel guides for each of the Sicilian gems that I had the pleasure of visiting. First up – Catania.

Located in the east of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, Catania is one of the major cities that you can fly into when visiting Sicily. It is underrated when compared to its rival Palermo but I loved Catania. The markets are incredible, the architecture breathtaking and the views of Mount Etna are incredible. It is also the perfect destination for wine lovers as there are incredible vineyards on Mount Etna that are definitely worth a visit.

Where to stay: The UNA Esperienze Palace Hotel Catania, this hotel is located on the main shopping street in Catania. The roof top restaurant features gorgeous views of Mount Etna and it’s within walking distance of the markets, great restaurants and cafes and sights such as the duomo. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the hotel breakfast in the morning is quite good. I had a few minor issues during my stay that I didn’t say anything about until my last night when I got annoyed and sent an email to customer service – I really didn’t expect them to read it until after I had left, and my motivation was just to give some constructive feedback. The response was the most impressive customer service that I received in Sicily. The management of this hotel is clearly motivated to deliver a positive and quality experience to all guests. I will be booking to stay here again on any future visits to Catania and will be suggesting it to anyone that I know that is planning a visit to Catania.

What to do: Visit the markets! During my visit my plans fell thru one day and I ended up with extra time on my hands to just wander around the city. I found myself at the market walking around and admiring the different stalls and vast array of foods that were being offered. As I walked past one place there was a woman offering samples of cheese that called out to me. She had on her sample plate what had quickly become my favourite cheese in Sicily – Formaggio Picante (aka cheese with chilli peppers in it). It was by far the best one that I had eaten so far on my trip (and truthfully the best cheese that I had my entire trip). Seeing how much I enjoyed the sample and being the savvy business woman that she was, she suggested that I sit down to enjoy a drink and a cheese plate (that cheese was a great hook!). I told her that I wanted to finish wandering around the market but I would be back and 15 minutes later I found myself settling into a chair at her stall and ordering a cheese plate with a spritz (hey, when in Italy). I had such a great time people watching while enjoying the wonderful food and drink. If you are at the Catania market stop by Salumeria Patti to experience it for yourself.

Book a wine tour. The tour that I had booked before leaving for my vacation fell thru at the last minute but thanks to a tour guide in Catania I was able to find a new one thru Etna Experiences. My tour included pick up and drop off, a honey tasting, visiting two incredible vineyard sampling different wines, snacks and lunch. If was probably one of the best wine tours that I have experienced. If was well organized, the tour guide was very knowledgeable and personable and the wines were delicious! If you are looking to book a wine tour in Catania I suggest that you visit Etna Experiences website to see the various tours that they offer.

Where to eat: Aside from enjoying the market fare in Catania and visiting Salumeria Patti for incredible cheese and people watching, another great spot for people watching and to rest from the Sicilian sun is Zi Caffe. Located next to the duomo, this cafe has a large terrace with umbrellas and I had one of the best chocolate donuts that I had ever had here. It is definitely worth a stop.

Il Sale Art Cafe – I randomly found this restaurant while eating dinner nearby. It was busy and looked like a great spot to check out so I made a dinner reservation for the following evening. It turned out to be a wise decision on my part as I ended up having one of the best pizzas of my life here. I love spicy food and they had a Calabrian chilli stuffed crust pizza that filled my chilli loving dreams. Even if spicy food is not your thing, their menu is filled with options for everyone and everything that I tried there was delicious (I even ended up going back one other night – it was that good).

Catania is a great city to just wander around and absorb the energy of the city. I found people welcoming and kind and I enjoyed my time in this city very much. It has all of the Sicilian charm of the other cities that I visited but with its own identity and I can see myself visiting Catania again and again. This is not a city to miss if you are visiting Sicily!

Have you ever been to Catania? Let me know your experience in the comments!

I hope that you have a wonderful day! XXS

Vacation Dreaming – Kalesma

Today’s Vacation Dreaming feature exemplifies the care and understanding with which K-Studio designs their projects. Located in Mykonos, Greece Kalesma is built as a village rather than a typical hotel. It is meant to grow and expand over the years while still providing an intimate hospitality to its guests.

There is something about every project that K-Studio designs that hooks me. Every project that I have seen of theirs has left me swooning and dreaming of visiting the project in person and experiencing it for myself. The time and care that they take to design projects that work within its environment really comes thru, resulting in projects that seamlessly integrate within its surroundings.

Whitewashed buildings set against the rugged landscape and inky blue sea sets the communal image. Intelligently positioned for visitors to enjoy both the sunrise views to the east along with the sunsets views to the west. These views can be enjoyed from the many wellness and social areas by guests as they relax and enjoy amenities that the hotel has to offer.

The hotel has 25 suites and 2 villas. I love that the entry offers a outride shower for guests to “de-sand” before entering their private quarters. Natural tones and textures along with an abundance of natural light gives the indoor spaces an elegant and calming vibe. The colour palette also allows the stunning views to the centre stage even while indoors.

The beautiful pergola covered bar, infinity pools and cushiony sun loungers are just some of the amenities to enjoy while visiting this gorgeous hotel. The hotel even has a traditional stone “Aloni” which historically was a circular structure used for grinding wheat into flour. It has been modified to be a relaxing platform from which guests can socialize and enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine.

This hotel is a dream and demonstrates perfectly K-Studios incredible design talents. It is yet another project that I am dreaming of visiting.

I hope that you have a beautiful day! XXS

All images from

Behind the Design with K-Studio’s Dimitris Karampatakis

My love for K-Studio’s Dexamenes project is no secret.  From the first time that I saw pictures of it I was hooked, and it remains one of my favourite hotel projects to date.  So when K-Studios co-founder and creative director Dimitris Karampatakis agreed to be a part of my Behind the Design series, I was thrilled.  It was clear from the beginning of our conversation that Dimitris is just as cool as the projects that his studio designs.  His outlook and approach to design is thoughtful and exciting and I can’t wait to see what wonderful projects K-Studio develop in the future.  Here is my interview with K-Studio’s Dimitris Karampatakis:

Has architecture and design always been your passion?

Yes, my dad is an architect and as we were growing up he would take my brother and I with him to visit the construction sites.  It was very exciting to be exposed to the ethos of making things, different materials and construction techniques.


How would you design your design aesthetic?

We have an contextural approach to design.  We feel a responsibility to understand the place where we are designing, to use local technologies and echo local culture so that we are respecting where we are designing.

Where do you find your design inspiration?

The starting point is the location and then we figure out how we can best meet the needs and aspirations of the project


What has been your most challenging project to date?  Why?

Any project that involves different typologies – the more complex the typologies are the needs of the project become more complex.

You have designed an airport, restaurants, hotels and private residences, do you have a favourite type of project to work on?

I like complex projects that combine different uses.  We recently designed a marina in Crete that combines many different leisure activities and includes a hotel and boutiques.  


Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on?

We have worked on 200 projects over the past 15 years and it is difficult to pick a favourite.  We tend to reflect back on certain projects such as the Plane house, Alemagou in Mykonos, Dexamenes and Burboni beach restaurant in the Costa Navarino part of the Dunes hotel resort.

How long does it normally take for you to complete a project?

It depends on the project.  A 500 square metres villa could take one year for design and two years for construction.  Our recent airport project though was fast tracked as the airport was still in use as construction was being done, so it was two years from start to finish.


Any favourite travel destinations that you like to escape to?

My house because I travel so much for work.  We have a holiday home in Mykonos that I like to escape to as well.  I also enjoy travelling to London, Salzburg Mountains and my favourite destination is Tokyo.


What wellness practices have you incorporated into your life to help you to deliver such wonderful projects?

My daughter helps to balance me out.  I really enjoy cooking as a way to understand how to design and to coordinate things in design. With cooking you have control over the process.  I also enjoy running and meditation.


Any words of wisdom for someone just starting out their design career?

Design is a vast workplace so don’t limit yourself.  Don’t worry what type of designer you are


You can see more of K-Studio’s project at or on Instagram @k_studio_gr. Special thanks to Dimitris Karampatakis for taking the time to speak with me and Joanna Burtenshaw for arranging this interview.  All images courtesy of K-Studios and

I hope that you have a beautiful day!  XXS


Five Faves

Hi Everyone!

How is your fall going so far?  With the leaves changing, stunning sunsets (like the one above that I captured yesterday) and fabulous fall fashion, I am loving the new season so far!  Here are my five favourite faves for the month:


With the cooler temps I am craving warming foods and getting creative in the kitchen every chance that I get.  This grilled zucchini with stracciatella looks simple enough to make yet delicious enough to want to enjoy on a regular basis as a health side dish.


I recently ordered this coffee table book and I am loving it!  As you know travelling and decor are two things that I love so the combination that this book provides is perfect for me. I find myself escaping into it whenever I get the chance, love it!


Fall fashion is always my favourite and this season is no exception.  I am especially loving pairing blazers with everything from a full suit to jeans, leggings or even a dress.  Here are three outfits that I am currently pulling inspiration from and my causal version for days when I am rushing but still want to look put together.


I often find myself feeling really stressed out and it’s often difficult to change the way I think about stress.  I found the above image on Instagram (via @mindbodygreen) and I have decided to change my narrative.  Here’s hoping that I birth something great due to my narrative shift!


I am overwhelmed with decorating decision for my condo which means that I have done very little.  I found this image for a bedroom recently in my home design file (via @coveteur) and it perfectly captures the vibe that I was hoping for in my new place.  It is now front and centre on my vision board as I move forward with my home decor project – wish me luck!

I hope that you are having a wonderful October so far, let me know what you are currently loving in the comments below.  I hope that you have wonderful day!  XXS



Five Faves

Happy September Everyone!

I cannot believe that the summer is over! Truth be told though, I have every intention of keeping the warm weather attitude alive as long as I can.  So that means, that while I will soon be bundled up in boots and coats and cozy cardigans, the happy light weight attitude of summer will remain for as long as I am able to hold on to it.  How are you celebrating the new season (yes I realize that the calendar still gives us a couple of weeks until this actually happens – work with a girl please!)? Let me know in the comments below!

Here are five things that I am currently loving:


It’s nothing new, but I am seriously loving the pairing of sporty clothing with something more sexy. I am especially into outfits like this one that pairs basic sweatshirts with a cute mini skirt and some fabulous heels. Until I need to seriously cover up and put on some boots I will happily be rocking this trend.


I am currently on vacation in Madrid where I recently tried this dish – sautéed shrimp with mango and avocado and it was delicious! It is so good and simple to make that I will be recreating it once I get back to Montreal in an effort to keep the summer spark alive!


I am completely hooked on Money Heist aka La Casa de Papel. I found the first couple of episodes a little challenging to get into, but ever since I am a woman obsessed. I am currently watching season three for the second time and I cannot wait until season four drops (any ideas on when that will be???). If you are looking for a phenomenal show on Netflix to watch (and you are okay with Subtitles unless you are fluent in Spanish), Money Heist is worthwhile checking out.


Fall is the season for leather, and while I will happily be incorporating a bit of leather into my outfits I am especially loving the idea of accenting my home with it. This chair in particular matched with a jute rug has me on the hunt for a similar version. Love, love, love!


I came across this on Instagram today felt the need to share. I loved this post because it reminded me that I do have control over somethings, and that I owe it to myself to put effort into them in order to show up as my best self. Therefore, once I am back from vacation I will be putting in the effort in all of these areas of my life in order to be the best version of myself, I owe myself that much as do you!

Thank you for tuning into todays post and I hope that you have a fabulous day! XXS

photo credit: @mrsrodial, @soreiya,, @happilygreyhome, @thelawofattraction