I’ve always been a bit sniffy about Ibiza, associating it with banging club nights, blissed-out tunes and foam parties: it’s a scene in which I have never felt especially “authentic”, and it’s certainly not one where I would choose to spend any length of time. In recent years, however, I have been liberated from this prejudice following a couple of visits. Away from the clubby south, there exists a totally different culture on the island – one found in the verdant landscape, stunning coastline, quiet villages and extraordinary homesteads on the island’s northern wilds. It’s an area that has become increasingly popular with expats, who have come in search of solitude, new opportunities, craft communities and the chance to start again.
A former local, Paul Richardson has travelled around the region to write this week’s cover story about this Balearic bohemia, having first lived there in the ’90s, and he finds it invigorated with new creative verve. Perhaps the new arrivals have more in common with the counter-cultural spirit that first emerged in the ’60s when the island was still undeveloped and largely rural. For sure, it’s a tempting proposition: with pictures by Anna Huix, the story has rekindled the escapist fantasy that I might one day start a ceramics workshop or cultivate a field of flowers.
For an alternative escape, Baya Simons has put together a list of libraries so beautiful they can transport you to another world. From the reincarnation of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt to the illustrious London Library, the first lending library in London, whose early members included Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mill and future prime minister Lord John Russell, each space is a temple to the written word. Most of them have very reasonable fees for members and I can think of few lovelier places in which to do some work. Check out also the mini-drama at the Girolamini, Naples, where the director of the rare and sacred book collection once siphoned off the library’s contents to sell on the black market, removing the books’ seals so they were impossible to trace. Miraculously, most of the lost works have since been tracked down and the building is now undergoing a restoration. It is hoped to reopen at some point in the next few years.
I’m also transfixed by the beauty of the “Eid Mar” aurei, made to commemorate the liberation of Rome following the murder of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March, and so exquisitely rare (there are three) they are described as being a “Mona Lisa” coin. One of these will go under the hammer in Zurich on 31 May, and is expected to far exceed its guide price of £600,000. Susan Moore has traced the story of this extraordinary piece of history, as well as looking at the buoyant market for other coins that are similarly scarce.
Lastly, we take you to California for this week’s fashion story, for which Jeremy Everett, stylist Jasmine Hassett and model Lily Stewart visited Lotusland, in Santa Barbara, believed to be one of the greatest botanic gardens in the world. Known for its sustainable practices, the garden is a centre for horticultural conservation and serves as a repository of threatened and near-extinct plants. No wonder its many visitors have dubbed it Eden. It really is a heaven on earth.
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