Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Most Underrated Cologne: Jaguar Performance

A visit to your local Bloomingdales or Saks will reveal all the hottest names in the men's fragrance industry. Chrome by Azzaro, Aqua di Gio, Cool Water, Tommy, Hugo Boss; those are just some of the names that come up. Even uniquely named colognes such as Givenchy's Pi make a common appearance, but just because they are on the shelves, are these the best smelling colognes?

Perhaps they are best selling, but we figure that when your nose is the one to follow, follow it to the sales clerk at the Men's Fragrance counter, and ask for this obscurely known cologne, Jaguar Performance. Yes, that's right, a cologne from the car company, but don't rule it out just yet.

The cologne comes in two scents: one in a green bottle and the other in blue, but we highly recommend the green variation. The smell is fresh, with a mild spice, and an almost herbal, spruce-like quality. It is almost certainly masculine, in a way that astoundingly attracts women; I've received far, far more compliments with this fragrance than any other in my arsenal of men's fragrances.

To compare this scent to any others would be hard, because few other popular men's fragrances possess this complex and pleasing of a smell. You can tell that Jaguar put some thought into this, because it is something they can certainly be proud to offer to their wealthy customers through their car dealerships and Macys.

We suspect sales of this amazing cologne have been poor, in part, perhaps, due to the Jaguar branding; maybe people don't take it seriously. After all, Jaguar wouldn't know a thing about colognes right? Wrong.

Yet, the power of marketing makes or breaks, and apparently it broke this bottle: sales clerks at numerous Macy's (the only authorized department store retailer of Jaguar Performance) have reported to me that sales were slack, so slack that they hardly carry the fragrance anymore. A request for this cologne earned me a shrug as I was referred to someone more knowledgeable about this strange foreign scent I requested.

But don't worry, you don't have to brave multiple requests for this fragrance at Macy's to try it out. Remember: we mentioned the sales have been lackluster on this cologne, so it only makes sense it should be on sale, right? Right: lucky for you, the best price we could find is easily available online, at a significant discount (55%), at Fragrance X

Hats off to the Most Underrated Cologne, Jaguar Performance for men.

Boxx - Louis Vuitton Chairs by J. Emmanuel

For lovers of all things Louis, here's something to get excited about.

J. Emmanuel created this limited edition set of seating with one thing in mind: Louis, louis.

Covered in authentic Louis Vuitton leather hides, these chairs are reportedly each one of a kind. And although we cringed at the thought of the Louis Vuitton design put to bad use, it turned out our worst fears were just that, fears.

J. Emmanuel has executed the design very well, incorporating the gold-colored trim that Louis Vuitton uses on their trunks in a clever way. And while the chairs scream Louis, they don't abuse it; these chairs come of as genuine pieces of furniture, and not just something covered in monogrammed fabric. The Boxx is offered as an arm chair or a two-seater sofa.

To purchase the Boxx chairs or to check out the other creations by artist J. Emmanuel, visit his website.

Gucci Purse

This purple purse is an example of how Gucci can do without it's monogram plastered all over everything: brilliantly.

You may have noticed that Gucci has decided that the way to sell goods is to slather your logo all over it. We may have agreed with you even, that the company was in need of a new design department, perhaps. We would've agreed that is, till now. The company was, and still is, infected with Mono(grams) but is at least showing signs of recovery with new purses in a simpler light, for us plain folk who don't feel the need to have the "signature look" marring our purchases. This patent leather bag is great in it's simplicity and modernness, and it maintains it's Gucci logo, but in what we think is a more aesthetically pleasing way. And without the busy pattern that Gucci has lately employed, this bag won't compete with an outfit, it'll compliment it, like a bag is supposed to.

Note: We won't be covering purses nearly as often as some readers like, but we recommend this excellent site: The Purse Blog

Photo via The Purse Blog.
Gucci Evening Bag - $695 at Saks Fifth Avenue

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Featured Scent: Brooks Brothers Men's Fragrance

An elegant, subtle scent, the Brooks Brother Men's Fragrance is one of the finest on the market today. The smell is fresh without being citrusy or too youthful, and classic without being too spicy. Whatever age they are of, the gentlemen wearers of this fragrance will find this cologne to have a fresh scent which compliments your style, rather than overpowering it. That being said, it is not an overly mild scent either; two sprays will do.

Brooks Brothers did well to pick this classic, yet modern smell as their namesake fragrance. It displays a winning balance of youthful freshness and sophistication; attributes the company increasingly achieves in many of it's products. Perfect for the aspiring executive, or the boardroom veteran, and anyone in between.

$49.50 at Brooks Brothers.

Charbay Green Tea Vodka

Green Tea, a drink which is believed to have been a part of Indian and Chinese cultures since as late as 5000 years back, has long been rumored to contain healing properties. Various claims say that it can even stop Alzheimers, raise metabolism, and a slew of other things. To see more information about Green Tea and a list of Green Tea's Unproven Claims check out Wikipedia.

And Green Tea can add something else to its list of claims: getting you drunk. Well, not quite, but this is true: a green tea flavored Vodka is out, meaning you can get all the benefits of Green Tea from liquor. Great!

No word on whether the antioxidant properties actually survive in the alcohol, but the fine folks at Uncrate did have this highly amusing review:
"Fight off cancer and high cholesterol while getting a buzz with Charbay Green Tea Vodka ($36). This crisp and refreshing flavored vodka took nearly five years to create, and it shows — the infusion of flavor from first-growth green tea from the Anhwei Province makes it about as smooth as any flavored booze out there. Plus, thanks to its antioxidants, you'll finally have an excuse to drink during the week."

Worth a look? We say yes. It's not everyday a flavor this intriguing and reportedly succesful comes along for Vodka. We never liked Absolut Raspberry much.

Photo via Uncrate

Monday, July 16, 2007

Armani Hotel

Coming soon, to a United Arab Emirate near you: couture paradise! The world's largest mall title will soon be in the Emirate of Dubai. The shopping in this mega-mall will be range from upscale to couture, making this a heaven for Middle Eastern shoppers, and indeed international shoppers. Part of Dubai's play to become an international hub for shopping and entertainment, the mall will only be a part of a massive complex centered around what will likely soon become the definitive landmark for the small nation: the Burj Dubai.

And on the heels of the opening of the tallest commercial and residential building in the world in 2009, Armani-lovers will have a chance to bask themselves in Armani goodness all over, when the luxury Italian brand opens up it's first ever hotel.
That's right: the Armani Hotel will be housed in the immense complex of the Burj, along with six other five-to-seven star hotels, and will be managed and constructed by Emaar Hotel and Resorts LLC. The Armani touch, however, will not be overseen by Emaar, but rather by Giorgio Armani himself. Naturally, the hotel will be abound with Armani fashion and furnishings, creating what Armani believes will be an essential part of the 'Armani lifestyle'.

And beside the hotel will be even more Armani goodness: 160 residential apartments, also designed by Giorgio himself, and furnished with special edition pieces from Armani Casa. Armani is excited about the project which has been confirmed since 2004, when he wrote a letter of intent cementing his resolve. The fashion giant has also said publically: "“This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Armani story. In this our thirtieth anniversary year, I cannot think of a more energising prospect than bringing my philosophy of style and design to a collection of hotels and resorts. Today, more than ever before fashion has expanded to encompass our way of life, not just how we dress, but where we live, which restaurants we eat at, which car we drive, where we go on holiday and which hotels we stay in. I strongly believe that for those people who enjoy the Armani fashion and home furnishings collections, there will be a real enthusiasm for the possibility to now stay at an Armani hotel or resort.”

We agree, and predict success for the hotel. We can't see fashionistas being dissapointed by a chance to stay at an Armani hotel, unless the hotel itself was dissapointing. And dissapointing will be easy to achieve, since visitors to Dubai are no strangers to luxury; after all, the city has a Gold District, and is home to the only 7 star hotel in the world. But with a reputation on the line, and the great excitement of Giorgio, we have faith that the hotel will be a show-stopper, and can't wait to review it ourselves.

Note that this will not be the only Armani Hotel: expect locations in Milan, London, and New York following the opening of this first hotel, so residents of those cities won't have to be jealous of the Emirate for too long.

Another note: this is not the first residential design project Armani has done. Armani Casa took on this bathroom, showcasing their 20 Pine Collection.

Burj Dubai Picture via
Armani Casa picture via Businessweek. See a cool slideshow of luxurious bathrooms by Armani and other designers atBusinessweek's Website

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Steinway-Lyngdorf High End Audio

Steinway and Sons, makers of legendary pianos, have collaborated with Peter Lyngdorf to delve into the high-end sound market. We can't yet personally vouch for the sound (although we do know it boasts unique "RoomPerfect" technology which adjusts the sound to the acoustics of a room), but we can vouch for the looks: the Model D is a rare gem of design in the speaker industry. The components of the home audio system feature Steinway's signature black laquer finish, along with tasteful gold accents. There will be a scarce 100 Model D's available, so only an elite few will snag these opulent instrument-quality speakers, and since the Model D was featured in Robb Report's Best of the Best, we are sure it has the attention of much of it's potential audience already.

So if you've got $150K burning a hole in your priveleged pocket, slap the money down quick, because if it sounds half as good as it looks, they'll be spoken for in a moment's notice.

Featured Hotel: Oberoi Amarvilas

Since I may never quite get the name down right, I'm going to have to carry around a brochure for the Oberoi Amarvilas with me for the rest of my life, for those instances where someone asks my opinion on where to go on vacation. This brochure would only apply, however, if they, or you, were planning to go India, especially if they were going to see the Taj Mahal. And if you aren't thinking about making a trip to visit the magnificent Taj, maybe you should, because there's more to the visit than just the spectacular domed monument.

That's right, you may suspect you'll love the spicy cuisine and beautiful ancient monuments, but did you know you'll also love where you stay in India as well? Well that is, if you stay at the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra. Live like an Indian Prince or Princess in this world-renowned hotel. The Oberoi Amarvilas has a breathtaking list of awards: it's rated in the Top 20 Resorts In the World by Zagat, top 50 Hotels in Asia, Best Five-Star Hotel in India, Conde-Nast Gold List Best Hotels in the World, ETC. ETC, you get the idea.

So why all the acclaim? Well a gander at these gourgeous pictures and you'll see. (Pictures via Oberoi Hotels and Resorts.See dozens more pictures at their website.)
The decor is regal, without being over-the-top. Don't expect to find the same gaudy furniture as in many Indian-themed resorts. While the interior has a decidedly local flavor, it is done to world-class standards, showcasing some of the best of Indian interior design. You truly feel like you've stepped back in time, but not in a bad way, because every ammenity you might need is at hand, and everything stitch of bedding feels fresh and clean. And if you're looking to leave behind work, and get your relax on (and I'm sure you are), there's a good amount of relaxing activities available inside the resort: bathe in specialty local treatments at the spa such as milk and rose water, or practice Yoga with their comprehensive guidance, recieve a soothing massage, or lounge by our favorite part of the resort: the pool.

And at the Oberoi Amarvilas, you can't help but check out the view, because from the restaurant, lobby, and every room or suite in this palatial resort, you can see the renowned Taj Mahal in the near-distance, the reason you came in the first place. But after your visit you will surely realize, it was worth the trip just for the hotel all along.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Magnificent Whistler Estate

Canada's Whistler area is known internationally for its exceptional skiing, and coincidentally, it's sheer natural beauty. If having a home where you can hit the slopes and then come back to recuperate and rest in style is your idea of luxury, then be sure to check this property out.

Those who are of the means to buy this 15,000,000 (CAD) property will find immense comfort after an exhausting day of carving through the fresh powder outside; your choices for relaxation are endless. Sit by a cozy fireplace in the Master Suite with it's exceptionally high ceilings, or perhaps bask in the glow and warmth of the massive living room fireplace, a roaring fire encased in a stately stone facade.

The warmth of this home is almost palpable in the pictures, as it perfectly captures a luxurious mountain-home feel. So if you're looking to surround your self with warmth at home, and ski-bunny paradise outside, this is your place.

So if you're ready to pony up the $15 Mill, or just want to gaze a little while longer at some more pictures, visit Christies Great Estates Christies Great Estates today.
Pictures via Christies.

Hotel Spotlight: Mandarin Oriental New York

The Mandarin Oriental New York is an impressive hotel in an impressive city; this hotel wows us, even by the standards of New York opulence. The world-class Mandarin Oriental New York offers the brand's unique trademark design - internationally renowned contemporary furniture with a touch of classical chinese - and it complements the city superbly. From the view of the sparkling city outside through gleaming glass windows, to the walls of the steam room, everything at the Mandarin glitters in tasteful shades of another favorite color of the hotel's designers, gold. And that's about how you'll have to pay for it, since this kind of luxury doesn't come cheap. Prices start at roughly $600 USD a night, and range to $3000 or more a night for the Stay and Spa package. But hey, it's New York, and the time isn't cheap, so why should the time of your life be cheap?

And if the time of your life involves fine dining (and doesn't it for everyone?) then you're in luck here too. Some of New York's chicest restaurants are housed in the hotel, including Asiate, a curious but enticing fusion of French and Japanese cuisine with views of the city around and Cental Park. But don't take our word on the beauty of the view, take this one:

"...The best view of any restaurant in the city. The food is also spectacular." ~ The Daily Telegraph, 2006

Overall, the reasons for making this our hotel spotlight are clear: the design is a short throw away from heaven, and with first class service, gourmet eats, and a sublime spa, this resort in the city is a no-brainer. So go and make sure you have time to step out of everyday life and relish the beautiful views, enjoy the excellent dining, and marvel at the ethereal light flowing through the windows in the morning. The Mandarin Oriental, until further notice, is our favorite stay in one of the greatest hotel cities on Earth, and that's no light compliment.

Mandarin Oriental New York

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Bourgie Table Lamp

These modern lamps from Design Within Reach catch the eye, with their daring interpretation of French style furniture. Because of the classicness of the shape, I wouldn't be afraid to use these lamps in a more traditionally designed home, although they are modern pieces, because they would hold their own in either environment. Check out the lamp offered in glass, chrome, and gold at DWR.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

World's Best Hotel gets some competition

According to the World Travel Awards 2005 and Institutional Investor Magazine, it is the world's best hotel. And with it's 7 star rating, technically that might be right. But the Burj al Arab's 7 star hotel monopoly is about to be threatened, as it gets serious competition from a 7 star development across the way.

It's the Centaurus (pictured to the left) in Islamabad, Pakistan, a $350 million dollar threat to the Burj's throne.

Maybe not - it turns out, it's not so much competition, as cooperation. In fact, the Centaurus complex is being designed by WS Atkins PLC, the very company that designed the Burj. Oh well. It'll still be good to have more than one hotel in the mix. To be completed in 2010, the Centaurus will host commercial, residential and corporate property, acting as a symbol of success for Pakistan. The most intriguing part of the project is definately the design. I can only hope to see more designs like this around the world, and that means I'll be keeping an eye for updates WS Atkins PLC's new projects, and the completion of the Centaurus.

Pre-sales prices are available for the two residential tower apartments through the Centaurus website.

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Upcoming 2-Door-Style Four-Doors

It's on.

If one were to make tribute to Mercedes Benz's CLS, they would have to look no further than it's competitors. That's right, there are none. In fact, there's one-to-two model years till the CLS will have any significant competition. Perhaps this is not surprising, since Mercedes essentially invented the category itself, the car often described as a "four door coupe." But we can hardly wait to get these vehicles head to head in the showroom and on the track.

Check it out: Autoweek has snagged some choice SPY SHOTS of the Porsche Panamera - Porsche's first ever sedan, slated for release as a 2010 year model. We expect this four door feline to step up and be good competition for it's future nemesis, the the 2009 Aston Martin Rapide, and the CLS as well.

These profit-driven cars will actually be both companies first ever sedans. But do not confuse them for luxury sedans: as "four door coupes", the cars role will be to seat no more than four passengers. Both cars, it should be noted, will cost multiple times the sticker tag on a Porsche Cayman. So why would you want any of these 2-door-style 4-doors, when you can't even impress more than three people at a time?

The style, of course.

The curvaceous designs feature low slung roofs, sexier sheetmetal, sportier handling, and an all around more youth and style oriented experience than the average luxury sedan. Sure, there's not much room to stretch out, but that's not what these cars are about. But still, one can hope that the autos will be easier to enter and exit than their predecessor; I've hit my head while exiting CLS on more than one occasion. Entering and exit excluded, this writer can hardly help but be excited for a ride in these instant classics, and - we suspect - future Reporting Luxury Car of the Year Contenders.

Picture: Wikipedia

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Maltese Falcon by Perini Navi : World's Largest Private Sailing Yacht

A breathtaking yacht for sure, the long awaited Maltese Falcon is here, and available for charter. With 25,800 square feet of sails alone, this is no afternoon boat rental. Available per season for a whopping 335,000 Euros, the Maltese Falcon just might be worth it. Especially when you consider this: 335,000 Euros for a few months with this gal is pocket change compared to the reported $100 million invested by the owner, venture capitalist Tom Perkins. And it's not everyday that the world's largest private sailing yacht is available for hire, so we recommend you take the plunge, so to speak, if you're one of the lucky few who can afford it.
So besides being the biggest, what makes this the best? Well the interior for one. The available pictures hardly do this justice, but head over to the official Perini Navi website for updates and more info.

To charter this beauty see the folks at Charter World

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Lexus LS 600hL - COTY Contender

It reaches up to 140 mph, possesses a V8 engine, churns out over 430 hp (from electric and gas-powered motors combined), and hits 60 mph in approximately 5.5 seconds. And its... a hybrid?

That's right. Lexus' luxurious beast, a long base, hybrid edition is not only it's largest car model, but one of it's most powerful. Remarkably, the 8 cylinder hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain puts out power approximately on par with the 12 cylinder Mercedes, BMW, and Audi models, and in most cases for less money as well. Technology is abound in this car, and not just in the powertrain: the LS 600hL features an Advanced Parking Guidance System, a feature that parallel parks for you at the touch of a button, making this the perfect cars for city-dwellers. Apparently, Lexus agrees too, as they introduced the vehicle in New York City, the nightmare of parallel-parkers everywhere.

Fuel savings, whether substantial or not, are not the biggest allure of the hybrid. The reward of the hybrid is that emissions are at least 70% lower than any other car in it's class, earning this beaut the official SULEV rating - Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle.

The interior is undeniably indulgent, offering (optional) heated and cooled reclining rear seats, a "cool box" (read mini fridge),
electric sunshades, rear seat audio controls, and every other luxurious feature Lexus engineers could think up.

This car packs a lot of prestige, power, and panache in a package that's relatively light on the emissions. That earns our respect, and unsurprisingly, our nomination for Car of the Year. So if you're a fan of this benign beast, remember to consider your vote for the Lexus LS600 hL for Car of the Year. Voting will be held near the end of the year.

Photos courtesy of Lexus

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COTY Contender: Mansory Conquistador

German tuners Mansory have taken the ultimate status symbol, the Rolls Royce Phantom, and modified the heck out of it. A gutsy modification needs a gutsy engine, and the Conquistador's certainly got one. Mansory's Conquistador, as it is oddly named, has an upgraded engine allowing for a top speed of 168 mph, versus approximately 149 for the plain-jane standard Phantom. Further putting to shame the standard Rolls (if you can call it standard), the Conquistador features carbon fiber trim and couture-quality fabrics and leathers throughout. While some may prefer the more traditional trim of the original Rolls Royce version, the Mansory Conquistador no doubt has its fans, and for a reason. Mansory has performed a highly successful conversion, with tasteful touches abound, including the best use of carbon fiber we've seen in a car yet. And if you thought it wasn't possible for the finishing and material of the Phantom to get any better, you thought wrong. Every inch of the Mansory Conquistador is carefully polished, and wrapped in gleaming carbon fiber, plush fabric, buttery leather, Alcantara, and subtle strips of blue light forming logos and lines accent the cabin which provide a unique and mesmerizing ambiance.

It may be early, and perhaps seem pre-mature, but the decision is a no-brainer: for an unrivaled level of finish, style, and luxury, the Mansory Conquistador is our first contender for Reporting Luxury Car of the Year. Sometime nearing the end of the year we will get your votes on which of our candidates will win the first ever Reporting Luxury Car of the Year Award.

Picture via Carscoop See more pictures there.

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Retro-Styled Gerald Genta Watches - Featured Watch

This retro-styled watch caught our eye in Robb Report's Best of the Best 2007 Magazine. Rarely do we see such classy "retro" detailing, and while this watch certainly seems to be inspired by bygone design eras, it will go well with the most modern clothing. Match this up with a black Canali suit to a more conservative Brooks Brothers Piece, and it will work either way. This watch is our pick for Featured Watch because of it's ubuiquitous class, and therefore, it's versatility.

Picture via The Watchismo Times

Additional Note: Although slightly slow to load, we can't help but be intrigued by the unique, and fairly succesful Gerald Genta Website.

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A Luxurious Gin for the Everyman : Featured Spirit

Plugged as "a new mixable gin that goes with everything," our Featured Spirit, Tanqueray Rangpur reportedly goes down easy. The recently introduced Rangpur lime-flavored gin is said to have a mild citrus essence, which lends itself well to cocktails, and at $22, it's fairly affordable. Seems to be a summer indulgence worth buying into.

Interesting note: according to Wikipedia, the Rangpur is not actually a lime.

Quote Wikipedia:
"Rangpurs, also known as lemanderins, are a hybrid between the mandarin orange and the lemon. It is a citrus fruit with a very acidic taste and an orange peel and flesh."

Well, whatever a Rangpur is, it apparently has a pleasing taste. We predict due to the buzz and good reviews of this gin, it will enjoy popularity, especially during the summer months.
Read a comprehensive review at Liquor Snob
Picture via Liquor Snob.

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Hotel Spotlight: St. Regis Aspen

The red-brick St. Regis is above the word hotel; it is most definately a resort. One of the best rated hotels in Aspen, or any ski resort for that matter, the St. Regis offers something for everyone. Like the scenery outside, the rooms are beautiful and immaculate. Decor is more than pleasing with a classic Aspen feel, with modern touches such as optional flat screen tv. Deep reds and warm beiges cucoon you from the crisp Aspen air, making this the perfect place for the snowbunnies to stay. And while the St. Regis is definately one of the finest places for a skiier to stay during the peak winter months, it is also an exceptional summer resort, as Colorado offers white water rafting, tennis, and breathtaking beauty during the warmer months. Guests at the St. Regis get free access to the nearby private golf course, the prestigious Ironbridge Club. Getting a room at the St. Regis with a fireplace is recommended, especially in the winter, mainly for the added ambiance. Dining is overseen by an internationally renowned chef at Olives Aspen, and massages are procured by professionals in a 15,000 square foot facility. Whether you are an avid golfer, a master skiier, or just someone looking to be pampered, the St. Regis Aspen is a first class choice, and our first ever pick for Hotel Spotlight

St Regis Aspen

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Italy in a Ferrari

This may be the coolest way to see Italy. If you thought traveling to the land shaped like a boot was the ultimate vacation, prepare to raise your bar. Select Italy offers a tour in which you whip through the cities and countryside of Italy in the nation's pride: a shiny Ferrari, color of your choice. Car Insurance, meals, and five-star accomodations are included in the purchase price of the trip. The total cost of the trip is variable, depending on how many days you stay, what car you choose, (the itenirary is fully customized to your needs) but note that a 15,000-20,000 Euro Deposit is required to take possession of the car, which is returned minus the cost of fuel. Sounds like a win-win situation... but what if you get tired of driving (if that's even possible with a Ferrari)? No problem, the Tour Director will take you on board his Alfa, until you feel like unleashing your rented beast on the road again. Select Italy overall seems to have some of the best choices for an Italian vacation, offering a seemingly unlimited amount of vacations to choose from. Many of them are exciting, but slinging around Italy in a Ferrari has got to be at the top of the heap.
Select Italy

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