Four Australian fashionistas name the cities that inspire them


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Long lunches on the Amalfi Coast, midnight visits to the Eiffel Tower and Bellini cocktails in Rome.

Four Australian fashionistas give Jane Rocca the inside running on the European cities they’ve fallen in love with.

REBECCA VALLANCE: Fashion designer

My Rome

Rome has a special place in my heart. When we lived in Malta, my husband [Maltese investor David Gasan] and I would fly there for weekend getaways. Because it was just a 45-minute flight, we’d go over for restaurant openings, shopping trips and concerts. I saw Madonna perform in Rome, which was incredible. I had Italian lessons twice a week when I was living in Malta and while I’m not a natural, I can get by.

The food, wine and culture is what makes Italy the best place in the world. Fashion is at its epicentre. I love how much effort is put in to each outfit. The Romans never do anything by halves. We often stayed at Hotel de Russie which is just a short walk from Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo. It has really incredible interiors and its restaurant, Le Jardin de Russie, has the best truffle pasta in the world. My favourite cocktail spot is the rooftop bar at Hotel Raphaël, famous for its 360-degree views of the city and for serving a mean bellini.

If you’re looking for a little getaway outside Rome, there is a place called Villa del Priorato di Malta. It has a spectacular view of the villa gardens and St Peter’s Basilica [in Vatican City].

I love venturing out of Rome. Even on a 10-minute drive, you find beautiful places. I would also suggest you go off the beaten track and explore the city’s narrow cobbled laneways, which could just lead to a delicious restaurant or bar. Italians are very passionate and take pride in whatever they do – from the way they talk, to what they cook, to what they wear and the lives they lead. I think there is something very special and inspiring about that.

We’ve been living back in Sydney since 2011 but we still like to visit Rome for romantic getaways. 

LUCY FOLK Accessories designer

My Positano

Lucy Folk in Positano.

Lucy Folk in Positano. Photo: supplied

When I was six, my parents took us out of school for a month to tour Europe and meet our Austrian relatives. That was the first time I went to Italy and I remember falling asleep under the table at Da Ivo restaurant in Venice and my mum saying to my dad, “This is the most romantic place I have been.” I still have a T-shirt my parents bought me in Venice on that trip and I wear it today even though it’s holey and a little tight.

When I was 18 I visited Positano, on the Amalfi Coast, for the first time. I have been back many times – in fact, I go at least every two years and it gets better every time. I can’t get enough of the dramatic coastline, the colours, the sunsets, the aromas and the locals. I don’t speak Italian, but I’m thinking of taking classes.

I prefer going in June or September when it’s less busy. I recommend the Hotel Le Sirenuse because it’s stunning, but Palazzo Murat, the Punta Regina and Hotel Miramare are all fabulous. Friends of mine got married in Positano and through them I have met people who live there. When you make friends with the locals it changes your perspective – it’s all home-cooked snacks on boats, zucchini explosion pasta (a dish made by my friend Chico that bursts with flavour) and secret swimming spots.

Da Adolfo in Positano is the place to make friends with locals or hold a wedding. The view from the restaurant blows my mind – looking out to sea, the sun worshippers splayed on the beach and everyone jumping off boats and enjoying themselves. The people are all happy and excited to be alive. They’re about working hard but having a balance. I find this rubs off on me and makes me want to do the same.

For a long lunch I go to Ferdinando at Fornillo Beach. The food is exceptional and I like that it’s a bit hectic – the bustle, the shouting. It’s a scene. The best cafe in Positano is Casa e Bottega. It’s all about healthy fresh food – green juices and salads – in a really lovely environment. For late night drinks by the sea, a hidden gem is L’Alternativa Snack Bar.

My favourite shopping spot is Emporio Sirenuse. Carla Sersale has curated the best mix of resort wear, perfumes, Murano glass and more. It even stocks my Lucy Folk sunglasses. During the day, hop on a boat and savour the view of Positano from the water – it’s spectacular.

RACHEL MUSCAT Global director of collaborations, Adidas

My Nuremberg

Rachel Muscat in Nuremberg were she regularly visited Adidas' headquarters.

Rachel Muscat in Nuremberg were she regularly visited Adidas’ headquarters. Photo: Supplied

I was offered a role at the Adidas headquarters in Nuremberg while I was living in Hong Kong, and I was both nervous and excited about moving to Germany. I ended up staying there for seven years.

When you live in a country where you don’t know the language, you forget that everyday activities, like supermarket shopping, are a completely different experience. This is also true of yoga – especially when you have no idea what is being said! But that’s what I loved about living in Nuremberg and I eventually learnt enough German to get by.

Nuremberg was largely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt, so its energy is a mix of tradition and the new.

It was a medieval walled city and the wall still exists, so it’s a lovely walk around the whole town. You can pretty much see all of the city in a day. One of my favourite cafes is the Mainheim. It’s got great coffee and also offers Swedish vegan platters and amazing omelettes so big you could share them. You must try the hausgemachte – home-baked cake.

My favourite local dish is drei im weckla. It’s a sausage in bread, but this sausage is known as a Nuremberger and it can only be called this if it’s made within 100 kilometres of the city. Drei means three in German and this delicacy consists of three sausages in a small dinner bun topped with mustard. To crank up the regional flavour add sauerkraut.

One of Nuremberg’s great secrets is the Schnepperschütz, a summer cafe in a beautiful park near the city centre. The park is fun for the whole family, including dogs, and everyone brings their picnic blankets. There is also an amazing gelato place called Die kleine Eismanufaktur that is so popular you have to wait in line – but it’s worth it.

Christmas is a very special time in Nuremberg. The Hauptmarket, near where I used to live, holds the largest and most famous Christmas market in the world. It sells delicious Nuremberg gingerbread, amazing Christmas decorations, as well as many other locally made goods. Everyone grabs a mug of hot spiced wine called glühwein – a perfect way to get through the cold winter months.

Living in Nuremberg was a very special time for me. I met a local couple aged in their late 80s and learnt all about their time growing up in Germany – they became like my grandparents. To live in a city that was destroyed and then built back up again is both unique and humbling. It’s a testament to the people who make it what it is today.


My Paris

Megan Irwin in Paris.

Megan Irwin in Paris. Photo: supplied

I always wanted to work and live overseas and since I started modelling, I have been fortunate enough to live in Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, Milan and New York. Australia will always be my home, but as my career progresses, it’s important for me to move around. I worked in Paris for a few months when I first started modelling, and in April I was excited to move back. Apart from the language barrier, the most daunting part of moving was missing my friends and family from Australia. I live in Montmartre, which is also my favourite neighbourhood in the city. The streets are beautiful and there’s a nice ambience.

I love Parisians because they are passionate and have so much zest for life. Most French women exude sexy, effortless cool and I’ve adopted French style: a simple black dress with a big jacket, or some beautiful jewellery. I love going to the Louvre – there is so much history and culture. Some of the best cafes in Paris are Used Book Cafe at concept store Merci and Boot Café in the Marais area. Vintage shops such as Chinemachine and Kilo Shop are incredible and I also love record stores like Crocodisc and Music Please. The food in Paris is pretty incredible – croissants are by far my favourite – but if there is one thing I do miss from Australia it is the coffee.

My favourite places to eat in Paris are Soya Cantine Bio, an organic restaurant, and Thank You, My Deer for vegetarian food. Ciel de Paris in Montparnasse is a fantastic place for dinner and has killer views. I recently took some friends from Australia to Hotel Costes for a beautiful dinner. At midnight we made our way to the Eiffel Tower to watch the lights flash – even after numerous visits there I still love to do that.

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