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Luca Gnecchi Ruscone Founder of L.G.R Eyewear
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Rossano Ferretti - Hair stylist

'I am famous because I invented the invisible haircut, girls come to us with chopped hair or a classic bob, we cut their hair and they say, ' Finally I am free. Before I had a haircut, now I feel beautiful.' There is a big difference between having a haircut and feeling beautiful."'

So how does a man from a little village of 350 inhabitants in the North of Italy become a world famous icon in the world of beauty?

As an advocate for travelling with my hair straightener everywhere, when in Rome I jumped at the opportunity to meet Rossano Ferretti, hair dresser extraordinaire, to not only find out about the secrets of his success but to learn just how you create an effortless natural look every day (without carrying around your whole beauty kit!).

Rossano grew up in Campegine, a small village where dogs, cows and sheep outnumbered people. He had a very simple upbringing. His grandfather was a barber working in the village square. Eventually his grandmother opened a two chair salon. His mother worked there also. At age 14 he was shampooing for his mother’s clients. Rossano, however, wanted to be an architect. He was also very good at soccer (he now has two sons that are both professional soccer players).

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Rossano's Italian tips:

1. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MENSWEAR BOUTIQUES IN ITALY?

O. Oficina in Parma, Tassinari shoes in Bologna, Simone Sorgenti in Parma for my tailored suites.

2. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN ITALY FOR SUMMER VACATION?

Amalfi Coast, Ostuni, Aeolian Island, Ponza island, Elba island and some unknown beaches in Sardegna

3. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US THREE THINGS EVERY TOURIST MUST DO IN PARMA?

Visit the Teatro Farnese at La Pilotta, the Battistero and Duomo, and the Parco Ducale.

4. WHEN YOU ARE VISITING PARMA IS THERE A RESTAURANT THAT YOU ALWAYS RETURN TO?

Due Platani. The best local food ever, they never fail. We recently had our Parma Salon anniversary lunch there.

5. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY AT IN PARMA?

Palazzo dalla Rosa Prati, PIO B&B, The Park Hotel Pacchiosi

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Posted in 'Beauty' on Thursday 23rd October 2014

Luca Gnecchi Ruscone - founder of L.G.R sunglasses

'I always knew I wanted to go down my own path. I remember my grandfather saying 'Luca you can do anything in this world, you can clean the floor, you can clean the toilet, but if you are really good at it you are going to be successful''

You know those moments in life when you feel like you have stumbled across something truly special, something unique and under the radar. You feel like you have been let into a secret that nobody else knows about. It’s a rush.  It’s like the time fifteen years ago when I discovered musician SIA, I felt like I was the first to discover her, now of course she is a massive star. This is how I felt when Julie and I uncovered sunglass brand L.G.R. To me L.G.R is a little treasure. So it is with great reluctance that I share this story, as greedily I would really like to keep it all to myself!

Founder of the brand L.G.R, Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, was born in Rome but grew up in the country side in Tuscany with his mother after his parents divorced when he was two years old. At age 12 Luca and his mother moved back to Rome when she was invited to work for Maison Valentino. Luca’s father lived in Kenya, working in the casino industry. He would see him twice a year.

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Luca's Italian tips:

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN ROME?

Pastificio, it is an artists residence which also has a restaurant with delicious food, a good ambience, and interesting people.

2. WHERE WOULD YOU GO FOR AN AFTER DINNER DRINK WITH GREAT ATMOSPHERE?

Sometimes I go to Caffe della Pace, which is a historical 19th Century bar located in the centre of Rome.

3. WHEN ESCAPING ROME ON HOLIDAYS WHERE DO YOU GO?

I usually go to my home in the countryside where my family lives in La Polverosa. It is in Tuscany near the sea, very beautiful.

4. IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS VISITING ROME, WHERE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THEY STAY?

Buonanotte Garibaldi in Trastevere. A very charming hotel in a beautiful area of Rome.

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Posted in 'Fashion' on Saturday 4th October 2014

Milan Fashion Week Spring Summer 15

'Street style by Lauren Michelle'

Show time in Milan… where the very best dressed adorn the front rows, the most beautiful bedazzle on the catwalk and the masters of fashion unveil their visions for the coming season.

Miuccia Prada, always leading the way, intrigued the crowds with her elaborate setting of purple sand dunes as seasoned models such as Gemma Ward and Lara Stone stole the show in elaborate displays of craftsmanship that Prada is renowned for. Pucci’s signature looking ‘bombshell babes’ strutted down the runway in billowing 70’s inspired caftans, Dolce & Gabbana found stunning inspiration in Sicily's Spanish influence and Bottega Veneta once again showed the beauty in simplicity, with a calming collection inspired by 'off-duty' dancers.

Whilst all this was setting the tone for what will influence our choices in the coming season, we were fascinated with how fashion was being interpreted on the streets of Milan at the moment.

Our Milan based contributor, photographer Lauren Michelle shares with us her 'street style' imagery from fashion week. Lauren captures everyone from super models to fashion bloggers; embracing vibrant colour, bold prints, jumpsuits and of course, the essential – statement eyewear… this year the mirrored kind.

Images credited to Lauren Michelle. Words credited to Julie Adams.

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Posted in 'Fashion, Fashion & Lifestyle' on Sunday 28th September 2014

Caterina Valente - owner of The Locarno Hotel, Rome

'Two writers I know both stayed at our hotel and met by chance and when they accidentally met, one said to the other 'Oh hello, how are you? I was looking for you. I want to talk to you about this project.' There was a theatre project and they started to talk. They ate spaghetti together at our bar, and a theatre show came out of it. We are very happy when the Locarno is the start for many things. We are convinced that we bring luck to people who start artistic endeavours.'

Hotel Locarno in Rome, located on a street behind Piazza del Popolo, is a charming hotel known for its eclectic mix of art deco and art nouveau furnished rooms. No two rooms are the same. The hotel and in particular the hotel bar is famous as being a meeting place for creative people from all around the world: artists to directors to actors.

As a designer, this hotel captured my heart. I love the ornate wooden art nouveau doors, the birdcage vintage elevator. I love that every room is an exploration of textures, colours and finishes. I love that the Locarno bar has such atmosphere and style. I love the 1910 silver coffee machine. Sipping a martini in the bar, I could only imagine the talent that had collected in the room discussing creative projects, film ideas and... the meaning of life.

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Caterina's Italian tips:

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN ROME?

Trattoria dal Cavaliere Gino, 10 minutes walk from the Locarno.

2. FOR LOVERS OF ANTIQUES, CAN YOU SUGGEST ANY SHOPS/MARKETS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD VISIT?

Porta Portese market is always fascinating And 'Robertone Mercatini di Roberto Cavallone', a huge shop where you can find everything from old magazines to an old iron safe.

3. WHERE DO YOU LOVE TO MEET FRIENDS FOR AN APERITIVO?

Of course at the Hotel Locarno Bar, we offer a huge selection of signature cocktails prepared by Nicholas Pinna and his team - I  can't find cocktails like these in others bars. You must try the 'Earl drunk' and 'Roma Bracciano' our best selling cocktails and you'll understand me!!

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ART GALLERY IN ROME?

Gagosian

5. WHERE IN ITALY DO YOU ESCAPE TO IN THE SUMMER? CAN YOU SUGGEST SOMEWHERE TO STAY?

Hotel Le Sirenuse in Positano.

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Posted in 'Travel' on Monday 22nd September 2014

Guy Grossi - award winning Chef & media personality

'It's a very therapeutic exercise to cook and make things smell and taste delicious, but the thing I love the most is to create something really beautiful and then to give it to someone to try. Seeing the satisfaction on that person's face, that smile, that slight rolling of the eyes, oh mamma mia, that's the greatest feeling in the world.'

Guy Grossi’s parents emigrated to Australia in 1960 coming from a heritage of food and wine from the vineyards of Southern Italy. They settled in the suburbs of Melbourne. His father, Pietro, was a chef and from a very young age Guy would follow his father to work to get ‘his hands dirty’. Like all good Italian households the kitchen in the Grossi home was the focal point. It was where the energy was, people cooking and preparing, people talking. Guy would always get involved and so it became apparent that food and family was going to be his path in life.

Pietro Rossi gave Guy the gift of knowledge; the ability to flavour, to know how much salt and pepper to add to make things taste good, exactly how much time to allow for the onion to sauté properly before you do the next step, all the little details. He taught Guy the humble truth - that if you want to get something done you have to give it your full effort, you can’t do things half hearted otherwise they just don’t work.

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Posted in 'Chefs' on Tuesday 2nd September 2014

Glamorous Lake Como

'a romantic holiday destination'

Less than one hour from bustling Milan, you can discover glamorous Lake Como, one of Italy’s most romantic holiday destinations.

Sightseeing at Lake Como is as simple as hopping on a ferry that links many of the major villages and towns on the lake. Although, for a taste of Lombardy’s dolce vita, I recommend hiring a small speed boat from one of the vendors along the lakeside promenade in Mennagio (no boat licence required) and cruise between the charming mid lake villages of Tremezzo, Bellagio and Varenna.

After a wander through the 17th century Villa Carlotta in Cadenabbia, pack a picnic and head down the road to the public park in Tremezzo. This peaceful local hotspot fringes the fresh water lake with a shallow pebble beach, making it a perfect spot for a summertime dip.

After lunch, visit the nearby town of Lenno and take a stroll through the lush gardens of the elegant Villa Balbianello, which has been featured in Hollywood blockbusters Casino Royal and The Star Wars films.

The Grand hotel Tremezzo’s T Beach Bar is the perfect place to wind down at sunset by their floating pool, before making your way to family run restaurant Al Veluu for superb local cuisine accompanied by the best panoramic views over the heart of the lake.

Photography and words credited to Lauren Michelle

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Posted in 'Travel, We love' on Friday 15th August 2014

Palazzo Margherita

'Mr Francis Ford Coppola's Southern Italian luxury boutique hotel'

When Julie and I travelled to Bernalda in Southern Italy, we found an unassuming city, almost sleepy in the southern heat of the day. The city is nestled between the ancient towns of Metapontum and Matera, and surrounded by olive and grape growing hills. Most families living in the city go back several generations, often never having travelled outside the region. The pale stone crumbling walls say it all - this town is seriously laid back. The streets are extremely narrow, which I discovered trying to manoeuvre our hire car through to our final destination, but filled with the friendliest of people, sitting in rows of chairs, smoking and conversing.

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Posted in 'Travel' on Sunday 10th August 2014

Sicilian family holiday

'Italian style'

Being ‘in love’ with Italy means I happily embrace travelling long distances with small children but every time I do it, I learn a little more, do it a little differently. This year it is fair to say we ‘holidayed like the Italians’… and we loved it!!

Lucky for us we were in great hands holidaying with dear Italian friends. The days began leisurely with a civilized lie in, followed by a cafe and brioche at the bar, then a long lazy day at the beach, home for a spritz, a late dinner in the piazza, a relaxing passeggiata for granita, before falling into bed and doing it all over again. This recipe was such a success that it made a two week holiday feel like three.

We indulged in this beautiful holiday in an incredible part of the world called ‘Scicli’ a baroque town in Southeast Sicily. Scicli is like stepping back in time; the romantic narrow cobble stone streets, the elegant architecture, the couple selling green beans from the back of their three- wheeled ape, the boys playing football outside the church - it was like being on a film set. I must admit though pinpointing this authentic Sicilian town didn’t happen by chance. It was thanks to our friend Simone, an architect, who had just finished a renovation in Scicli and invited us all to stay.

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Posted in 'Travel, We love' on Monday 4th August 2014

Rosita Missoni - Matriarch of the Missoni Brand

'We have always been inspired by a combination of colour and shapes within flowers. Flowers inspire the fantasy of our world. My husband was always a very good artist and used these inspirations to create a system; when knitting the fabrics every single thread had a number that corresponded to a colour and then the kind of yarns he wanted to use. He created a language of his own.'

To me, flowers are home. My earliest memories are of following my mother on Sunday’s as she meticulously nurtured our beautiful garden. She would explain the different varieties, what time of year each would bloom, what kind of conditions each would need to flourish. There was so much patience and appreciation. Today, as a designer, flowers continue to be a huge source of inspiration for me, not only because of the beautiful memories I associate with them but because of the way they express infinite combinations of colour, texture, shape and scent.

I have always adored Missoni design, but when I discovered that Rosita Missoni, matriarch of the eponymous Italian fashion and homeware brand, also has a great love of botanicals, I was more than inspired to meet her.

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Rosita's Italian tips:

1. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN ITALY?

Venice is magical from all angles; from its precious Palazzi to its Lido, its several markets such as the one in the Rialto where you can buy fruit and vegetables; to its many surrounding islands such as Torcello, Murano, Giudecca. You not only have architecture to explore, but also many exhibitions, from paintings to other subjects.

2. WHAT HOTEL WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IN VENICE?

I would recommend hotel Cipriani alla Giudecca, it has a big swimming pool and is good for families.

3. WHERE WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO EAT IN VENICE?

Trattoria Alla Madonna is a great restaurant and don't forget Harry’s Bar for an aperitivo Bellini (also the restaurant is very good but a little expensive). I would also suggest Do Forni, not far from Piazza San Marco, and Pasticceria Rosa Salva for its Venetian specialities such as  “gialletti” e “budini di riso”.  Un Fritolin is a good restaurant for a quick lunch. You will find dishes such as "baccala mantecato" or "sardelle in saor" at Trattoria Aciugheta in Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo. But also out of Venice I would suggest in Burano Trattoria al Gatto Nero and in Torcello the Locanda Cipriani with a excellent Venetian cuisine.

4. IF SOMEONE HAS A FASCINATION WITH BOTANICS AND FLOWERS, WHERE IN ITALY WOULD YOU SUGGEST THEY VISIT? IS THERE A FLOWER SHOW OR FESTIVAL THAT THEY MUST SEE?

Places like the islands of Lake Maggiore, such as Isola Bella, or the beautiful Villa Taranto in Pallanza is famous for its botanical gardens. Near Venice, you can dedicate a tour to the Palladian Villas on boats, to visit their fascinating gardens and precious architecture.

5. IF YOU WERE TO GIVE FLOWERS FOR A GIFT, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR FLOWERS OF CHOICE?

Depends on the season: Anemonys and in the springtime and Tulips.

6. WHEN IT COMES TO DESIGNING YOUR HOME, ARE THERE ANY GREAT ITALIAN DESIGNERS THAT YOU HAVE AN AFFILIATION WITH? OTHER THAN MISSONI HOME, WHO WOULD YOU SHOWCASE IN YOUR HOME?

Among big famous designers I love especially Gio Ponti. My chairs in my Milano, Sumirago and Sardenia homes are Hans Wegner design; and my preferred couches are Antonio Citterio from B&B; but I also like the Kartell chairs.

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Posted in 'Designers' on Monday 14th July 2014

Culinary powerhouse unite in celebration of the AAWI Travel Directory Launch

'With Cira and Ormeggio at The Spit'

On Wednesday night Julie and Emma from An Affair with Italy were thrilled to host a special evening to mark the launch of the An Affair with Italy Travel Directory. The night was an intimate evening on the water at Mosman, in collaboration with Cira (Council of Italian restaurants in Australia), an organisation at the forefront of promoting the values of authentic Italian cuisine in Australia, values that An Affair with Italy shares and cherishes.

Four of Australia’s most revered chefs (Alessandro Pavoni from Ormeggio, Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater, Sandro Di Marino from A Tavola and Gabriele Taddeucci from Balla) joined forces at Ormeggio at The Spit, each bringing their Italian regional heritage to the table through the creation of an indulgent degustation menu. The menu was a celebration of the rich diversity of Italian cuisine, showcasing four of the many regions featured throughout the new An Affair with Italy Travel Directory, a treasure trove of information on where to stay, eat, drink, shop and play in Italy; a user-friendly encyclopedia that brings the hidden secrets of Italy, as divulged by the inspirational personalities profiled throughout the magazine.

Each of the chefs introduced their culinary creation and delighted the guests with insight into the regionality of their food and secret travel tips of their region, that only a local would know.

The very talented artist Monique Lovering, generously devoted her time to creating a stunning largescale artwork that became the centre piece for the room; a metaphor for the eclectic nature of the regions of Italy. Monique lived and worked in Palermo for two years, so had some wonderful stories of her own to share.

"We are so thankful to all the beautiful creative spirits that came together for the evening to help create what can only be described as a remarkable evening, a night Julie and I will always cherish. And we hope that the An Affair with Italy Travel Directory becomes a great tool for anyone when planning their next Italian adventure." Emma Scott, An Affair with Italy.

“An Affair with Italy is a beautiful read. The travel tips are spot-on, authentic and useful. I’m already planning my next trip using the new Travel Directory.” Nic Cerrone, Jeweler.

“Despite being Italian myself, I always recommend An Affair with Italy to friends planning a holiday as I feel it’s the most precious advice I can give them for an authentic Italian experience.” Laura Fantacci, international magazine editor and founder of www.wearingittoday.co.uk

Visit www.anaffairwithitaly.com, click on the Travel Directory tab and register your details to access the insider’s guide on where to stay, shop, eat, drink and play in Italy.

Special thanks to Cira, Ormeggio at The Spit, the chefs Alessandro Pavoni, Giovanni Pilu, Sandro Di Marino and Gabriele Taddeucci, artist Monique Lovering, Cerrone Jewellers, Velluti's, Aqua Panna, San Pellegrino, Euro Concepts, Godot Wines, Peroni, Moofish, Toby Peet Photographer and Bly Carpenter.

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Posted in 'Business' on Sunday 22nd June 2014