An Insider's Guide to Jaipur, India: Interview with Barbara Miolini

In a city known for its chic expatriate community and impressive local design legacy, the Switzerland-born Barbara Miolini has made a name for herself with the creation of her beloved restaurant and social hub Bar Palladio. Inspired by the iconic cafés of Venice, this Italian-style lounge is free-spirited, fanciful and saturated with color—a wonderland setting for the stylish expats and Jaipur natives who gather here.

This October, Bar Palladio will host Indagare guests for a special cocktail reception with local designers on our Insider Journey to Jaipur and Delhi with Architectural Digest. In advance of the trip, Barbara Miolini shares her tips for where to go and what to see in Jaipur, from early-morning flower markets to off-the-beaten-path textile workshops.

Learn more about our October Insider Journey to Jaipur, which is hosted by AD Decorative Arts Editor Mitch Owens.

How long have you lived and worked in Jaipur? And what brought you there?

I have lived in Jaipur for the past 12 years. Before reaching India, I had been living in Asolo region of Veneto, near to Venice. India came quite suddenly into my life. Initially, I had come on a sabbatical and roamed across the country in a vintage Ambassador car—but somewhere along the way, I realized this was the place that I should be.

What is your favorite aspect of living in Jaipur?

What I love most is the spontaneity of India. India is a place of great possibility and little concurrence; everything here is new, and ideas are fresh (unlike how they can sometimes feel in the West). There is also a feeling of timelessness here, coupled with a true feeling of being outside of the "system." This gives me space to think, create and live unfettered.

What is one place that visitors to Jaipur should not miss?

Anywhere in India, the most beautiful time of day is dawn. To see the Pink City (as Jaipur is known) during this time—when the city is waking up, when there is no traffic, only old women making puja and cows rambling through avenues lined by deserted palaces—is truly magical. During this time, the city is yours. I always recommend visiting Govind Dev Ji, the city’s most important temple, for the dawn ceremony, when the god is woken up with songs and bells. And right nearby is the city’s wholesale flower market, which is gorgeous. Samode Haveli offers morning tours of Jaipur’s markets that are beautifully arranged. (Contact Indagare to learn more and book).

What are your favorite restaurants, shops and hotels in Jaipur?

I always recommend staying at the Suján Rajmahal Palace—an exquisite five-star property. For something more special, I love Anopura. This four-room property is spread between two villas, in quite possibly the most beautiful countryside area of Rajasthan, just a 45-minute drive from Jaipur. Another unique property that will be opening shortly is Deeppura Garh, a passion project from the Italian jewelry designer Maria Grazia Baldan (who is blessed with extraordinary taste). She is restoring a palace in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, an area famous for its murals and villages of abandoned palaces that is just two-and-a-half hours from Jaipur.

For shopping, I would recommend Idli by Thierry Journo—a lover of great color and pattern—and Andraab for Cashmere products.

Related: The Ultimate Jaipur Shopping Guide

What three things should every first-time visitor to Jaipur do?

  1. Visit the village of Bagru, where traditional block printers have their workshops and continue to design with natural dyes and traditional motifs.
  2. Visit the bazaars of the Old City and lose yourself in the winding alleys.
  3. Explore the Amber Fort and the village of Amber.

What region of India should more people know about and why? The region of Kutch in Gujarat—nothing is comparable to this place.

Related: How to Build a Travel Bucket List for Your Life

What upcoming projects are you working on that you are most excited about?

We have an extremely exciting project in the works (maybe the one closest to my heart). While it is still quite secret, I can say it deals with looking at the person as a whole: wellness, relaxation, the soul. This project will be located in Jaipur and is set to be something very special.

I am very determined person, but this determination is driven primarily through my curiosity. I am proudest of what I have achieved as both a foreigner and a woman in India. I have created something of beauty which speaks to my past, my history and my heritage, and I have transplanted it into foreign soil, where it has taken root and flourished.

Learn more about our October Insider Journey to Jaipur, which is hosted by AD Decorative Arts Editor Mitch Owens.

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