What $500 Buys In...

Spending $500 in Rome, Moscow, and Buenos Aires

Fact: More stores are closing than opening in Rome these days, and forecasts project a 5 percent decline in Italian fashion sales this year….But the dollar still goes further against the euro than it has in a while….And events like an exhibition of classic Bulgari jewels pull us back to the city….Meanwhile, as oil prices—and the value of the ruble—fall, Moscow’s decade as the epicenter of excess has given way to a new restraint….Which doesn’t mean you won’t still find gems like designer Polina Voloshina’s kitschy-chic Anna doll, marketed as “always dressed to kill” with outfits that “cost a helluva lot of money”….And in Buenos Aires crises of consumer confidence almost seem relatively minor, with two haute hotels having already opened this year….And the city’s Park Hyatt plans to fly in French hairstylist John Nollet for a weeklong engagement starting in August…. Could it be that the so-called Paris of South America is doing better than Europe’s?


Some 41 admission tickets to “Bulgari: Between Eternity and History” at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (May 21–September 13), which celebrates the company’s 125th anniversary and displays more than 500 rarely seen vintage jewels. palazzoesposizioni.it

Seven day-passes to Acquamadre, the city’s latest spa. A Greco-Roman-inspired hammam, the centrally located spot has pools of varying temperatures—a calidarium, tepidarium, and frigidarium—plus a massage and body treatment menu. acquamadre.it

Twenty quails stuffed with mushrooms or broad beans at Minnetti in Trastevere, the new restaurant from chef Roberto Minnetti, who spent the last 16 years in Tuscany, at his renowned restaurant and wine estate, Poggio Antico. 39-06/5833-3248

Two reserved lounge chairs with towels and 20 Mediterranean Breeze cocktails—fresh strawberry and pineapple juice, gin, Campari, grenadine, and watermelon garnish—at the famously sceney pool of the completely renovated Rome Cavalieri, now a part of Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria Collection. romecavalieri.com

About half of the Zito pouf from Nora P, a design shop opened in December by Eleonora Pastore. (She used to run the chic flower shop Pastore and Tjader.) Each one-of-a-kind seat can be positioned in seven ways, and its vintage-fabric covering can even be worn as a kimono. nora-p.com

Eighteen four-hour rentals from Roma’n’Bike. It’s hardly Audrey Hepburn’s vespa in Roman Holiday, but this new ecofriendly form of public transportation from the Comune di Roma provides 200-plus bikes that anyone can pick up and drop off at 19 city-center locations. roma-n-bike.com


Nine hours in VIP Limo’s bubblegum-pink mock-vintage four-seater Excalibur Phantom, with heart-shaped grill and protruding fender, and an interior including an L-shaped couch, a TV, and a DVD player. viplimo.ru

One Anna doll from Art Lebedev Studio, the retail arm of the hot Russian design company. This little plastic version of a fashionista teen (furs and snow boots included) was handcrafted in a small Russian workshop. artlebedev.ru

Nine hundred twenty-two metro rides from Red Square to the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, the city’s newest arts destination. It occupies the former Bakhmetevsky bus lot, a building designed in 1926 by the famed Constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov. garageccc.com

Thirty-eight Kalina cocktails—made with Russian Standard vodka, Absolut Raspberri, and the red guelder-rose berry, which grows in Russia during the winter—at Kalina Bar, a buzzy preclub spot. Perched on the 21st floor of the Lotte Plaza building, it affords exceptional city views. kalinabar.ru

Two tickets to the Bolshoi Ballet on July 11 for the première of Russian Seasons, choreographed by the company’s former artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, who is now at New York City Ballet. Travel specialists Exeter International can arrange tickets as part of a bespoke package. exeterinternational.com

Exactly 44 Belon oysters at Manon, the latest creation from star restaurateur Andrei Dellos (the man behind the city’s Turandot and Café Pushkin). The supereclectic menu from French chef Michel del Burgo serves everything from sushi to tapas. manonclub.ru

Buenos Aires

Exactly 3.3 day-passes to CasaCalma, an ecofriendly wellness-focused hotel and urban spa that opened in October in the city’s Retiro neighborhood. The passes, good for two people, include a massage for each and lunch or dinner for two. casacalma.com.ar

Half a day of touring the city with Blue Parallel, one of the best travel specialists in Argentina today. The company has just gotten access to the private holdings at the home of Ignacio Librandi, a high-profile local art collector who’s especially fond of the country’s Neo-Figuration artists. blueparallel.com

Two custom leather bikinis, handmade by local designer Gloria López Sauqué and available at her new appointment-only showroom in the city's Recoleta area. glorialopezsauque.com

Ten tasting menus, each comprising six bite-size courses and two amuse-bouches, at Tegui, Germán Martitegui’s new mod spot in the ultrachic Palermo district. One of BA’s most exciting cooks, Martitegui is best known here for his restaurants Casa Cruz and Olsen. tegui.com.ar

One night (almost) for four people in the two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of Francis Ford Coppola’s just-opened Jardin Escondido in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. The three-level townhouse, with a terrace, outdoor kitchen, and grill, can sleep 13 and is best rented in its entirety. coppolajardinescondido.com

One hundred twenty visits to the new Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat in the waterfront Puerto Madero district. The Rafael Viñoly–designed museum houses businesswoman and philanthropist Fortabat’s formidable Argentine and international collections. coleccionfortabat.org.ar

As of mid-March, one euro = $1.27, one ruble = $0.03, and one peso = $0.27.