American-born swimwear designer Melissa Odabash, is famous for her universally flattering beachwear. Here she shares her passion for vespa-rides in Italy and paddleboarding in Florida

Melissa Obadash

What great work of architecture has most inspired you?

The Vatican Sistine chapel—there is nothing else like it in the world, it’s simply extraordinary. I used to live in Rome when I was younger and every day when I drove past it on my Vespa I was in awe; at night it’s like a magic kingdom, the size and beauty of the building is so incredible. Nowadays, I tend to stay in slightly nicer accommodation when visiting Rome than when I was in my 20s. Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, has been a favorite of mine for many years.

What is the most beautiful view you have seen?

It would have to be the view at sunset from the stunning beaches in Porto Heli, Greece. It’s breathtaking to look over the surrounding islands and the incredible sunsets. Which gallery is truly worth traveling to visit? The Tate Modern in London. It holds wonderful exhibitions and talks and has stunning views.

Where was your most memorable meal?

I recently ate at Tiamo restaurant on South Andros Island in the Bahamas when shooting my new lookbook. The food there is above and beyond—the best I’ve ever eaten. All the chefs are Michelin-star trained, the lobster is freshly caught that morning, the crab claw salad is amazing and the panna-cotta dessert is to die for! It’s time for an aperitif in your favorite bar.

Where are we and what should we drink?

Any bar in Tuscany will do! There are so many places that have beautiful terraces overlooking the sea and the experience is always made better by a tasty, fresh cocktail. I tend to go for a Moscow Mule and then treat myself to one-too-many tasty Italian snacks!

Rome, Italy

Where to book for a fabulous cultural performance?

I love to watch flamenco dancers in Madrid; they are so talented and I always enjoy eating fresh seafood paella while watching the performance.

If we had a whole day to explore and shop, where should we go?

Exploring old souks and markets is one of my favorite things to do on holiday to get some inspiration for my collections. Istanbul has some of the best markets in the world; you can find amazing scarves, jewelry and lanterns at great prices, particularly if you have a go at haggling! I also recommend stopping for lunch at Nobu—it has by far the best sushi and fish in the city.

What’s your favorite thing to do, unhurried and off the beaten track?

Paddleboarding along the inlet of Jupiter Island when I’m home in Florida is always so much fun! I love doing activities with my kids, and think it’s great that you look down and see all the wildlife through clear waters, or look up and watch people going about their lives.

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