Santa Barbara, my home. A lovely place on the southern coast (although typically referred to as the central coast) of sunny California. This is where the sleigh bells will ring for me this Christmas. In less than 48 hours I will be California bound, driving down the famous highway 101 with the ocean breeze caressing my face, throwing me into a fit of pure joy.
It’s the best of both worlds really, splitting time between Florence, Italy and Santa Barbara. Florence with its old world charm, the romantic streets of cobble stone surrounded by rustic colors of terracotta and traditional green shutters lining every stone building. The family owned shops, trattorias, and cafes with their handmade leather goods, traditional local dishes, and their perfected cappucinos. And don’t forget the wine bars whose walls are lined with endless bottles of some of the best wine in the world.
Then, of course, there is Santa Barbara. A little corner of the world unlike any other. With its red tiled rooftops and beach town vibe, this city is as charming and mediterranean as they come. One of my favorite places for an absolutely one-of-a-kind and spectacular view of the city is from Stern’s wharf. It’s a view that’s breathtaking. Imagine sitting over the ocean, on the pier, eating a bowl of freshly made clam chowder soup with the salty breeze running through your hair. Out in one direction you see the vast, blue Pacific Ocean with boats, fishman, and very often the sight of dolphins and humpback whales. You take a glance in the opposite direction and you have the sandy coastline decorated in an endless abundance of palm trees that follow the boulevard, one right after the next. Beyond the immediate coast, the city is picturesquely set against a mountain range, ever so perfectly tucked away between the mountains and the water. Sounds great right?
Like Florence, Santa Barbara is a striking little town, much of which can be reached by bicycle. If you’re staying downtown having a bicycle is the perfect way to get around. There you’ll find the lively and picture perfect State Street, the main avenue for shopping, filled with boutiques, cafes, department stores, and a number of restaurants boasting all types of cuisine. I can’t resist a day of shopping with my coffee in hand strutting down State Street, especially with all the unique and lovely boutique shops there are to take advantage of. It also turns into the main area where all the night life can be found. Everything from your back door pub to your nightclub for dancing is either on or right around this street. And for those who like something a little more low key, you can always have a cocktail on one of Santa Barbara’s most scenic rooftop terraces.
I consider myself to be a very lucky girl! Now if only I could take these two worlds of mine and collide them into one, it would be in my idea of paradise. But for now, I’ll settle with one at a time. If you’re in Italy looking for a winter escape, Santa Barbara is the place for you. And I suppose, if perhaps you’re simply reading this from the East Coast or somewhere else with frosty winters, Santa Barbara is a wonderful, not to mention warm, winter escape. Otherwise, to all my Santa Barbarians, come venture to Florence and see what I mean about experiencing the very best of both worlds.
To everyone, warm wishes this holiday season from sunny Santa Barbara!