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Behind The Scenes

Laura Lombardi's Seven Most Trusted Chicago Spots

Although Laura Lombardi hails from New York, she traded in the apple for some wind in 2008—a move motivated by a desire to continue art school in Chicago, but that instead led to the creation of her eponymous line of vintage-fueled metal jewelry in 2009. These days, Laura makes all of her designs by hand from her west-of-downtown studio—which is right across the hall from fellow Of a Kind alum Sarah Fox of Cursive Design. Here, the jeweler shows off her favorite digs in her adopted hometown. —jiayi ying The view of downtown Chicago from Laura’s studio. ART Architectural Artifacts“Architectural Artifacts is a great place to look around and get lost. It is in this big warehouse and is filled with salvaged pieces—giant industrial tables from forever ago and church doors, for example. The man who owns it travels all over the world to source them. He just got back from Argentina with these incredible pots that were made from wood and strips of horse hair.” (architecturalartifacts.com) A feathery game on display at the Field Museum. The Field Museum“I really like the Chicago Field Museum—it’s kind of like the Museum of Natural History in New York. They have artifacts from throughout the ages, and I love to go there for inspiration. I took this picture there a while ago—it’s of a Native American game.” (fieldmuseum.org)  Mmm…Milk & Honey granola. FOOD Milk & Honey“Milk & Honey is one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. They have really good housemade granola that they’re locally famous for—it’s sold at all the grocery stores here. It was one of the first places I ate at when I got to Chicago, and it’s always one of those places I keep on going back to.” (milkandhoneycafe.com) Laura’s setup at Dose in October 2011. SHOPPING Dose Market“Dose started in Chicago this year. It’s a monthly market that combines food and fashion. A lot of local restaurants, designers, and boutiques participate—I try to make it down there every month. It’s held at the River East Art Center, which sits right on the river—it’s this gorgeous place with high ceilings and a beautiful view.” (dosemarket.com) The Find“The Find opened this year on Grand Avenue, which is right by my studio. That street is known for having a lot of furniture and interior design stores, and I think The Find has the most beautiful collection—they have these hand-embroidered flags and interesting cowhide pieces. They really curate the selection.” (thefind-antiques.com) A peek inside Eskell. Eskell“This boutique in my neighborhood carries a bunch of really great lines like In God We Trust and Erin Considine, as well as their own designs. It’s my go-to when I need something cute to wear.” (eskell.com)  Merz Apothecary“Merz is this different-from-the-norm apothecary—it’s sort of a one-stop shop for things that aren’t easy to come by here. They have beet candles, fun gift bags, and a lot of European products. I have this awesome gold toothbrush from there. You know those Minx nails in that super-bright gold? It’s like that!” (merzapothecary.com)  Laura’s latest made-in-Chi-town edition is here tomorrow. Best way to get it: Sign up for our email list.
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Laura Lombardi’s Historic, Insider-y Guide to Pisa

“I hate good food and beautiful places,” said no one ever. In other words, you’re going to L-O-V-E the Pisa tour that jewelry designer Laura Lombardi is about to give you. “I grew up between New York and Italy, and spent a lot of time in Pisa,” says Laura, who still has some famiglia living in the Tuscan city. “What’s unique about Italy is that I can go to the same pastry shop or restaurant as my grandmother did. You feel a different connection.” Here, five spots to hit on your first visit or tenth. —alisha prakash “Pasticceria Salza is a pretty touristy pastry place. Get a coffee and hang out and people watch. It was my grandma’s absolute favorite place, so I have a soft spot for it.”(Borgo Stretto, 46) “I’ve always stayed at this hotel called the Royal Victoria Hotel. It’s right on the Arno River. It has been open since the 1830s, and there’s something so interesting about all the history that’s there—tons of ephemera, photos, maps, menus, and postcards since they’ve been open. It’s kind of like a museum in its own way.”(Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 12) “The Camposanto Monumentale is a giant burial ground—it’s the one that nobody goes to, but it’s my favorite. Initially it was made as a home for Roman sarcophaguses, but eventually, they started burying people in there. They all have these really elaborate gravestones. And I love the legend behind it—they say that all the soil that it was built on is sacred, and if you bury someone in it, they’ll turn into a skeleton in 24 hours. It’s a classic Italian lore, but it’s part of what I love about that culture.”(Piazza dei Miracoli) “Trattoria Sant’Omobono is a restaurant that has really classic Tuscan food. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve had a really good, authentic meal—try the homemade gnocchi or any of the homemade pastas. It was built where a medieval church used to be, so one of the giant columns of the church is in the middle of this tiny restaurant—it’s really cool.”(Piazza San Omobono, 6) “Il Vecchio Forno is a bakery that has all the authentic Tuscan pastries, cookies, and treats that you’re not really going to find anywhere else like ricciarelli, cantuccini, and schiacciatine. It has typical terrible Italian service where it’s like they’re mad at you for being there. There’s nowhere to sit—you get your pastry and take it home or sit on the bench in the front and have it. It’s the real deal—it’s super legit.”(Via D. Cavalca) Think Laura’s travel tips are amazing? Wait until you see her edition tomorrow! You don’t want to miss it—trust.
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