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Alessio Alessi - of the Alessi brand; objects for the home

'I love the mountains. I go skiing and hiking with my mountain dogs. I have eight dogs. In fact everyone here knows how to ski and navigate the mountains. There is nothing more inspiring than being alone surrounded by the enormity of the mountains. The goal is always to reach the top but you need to tackle the mountains step by step. I am so connected with nature and if you look at the birth of the Alessi brand, so is the brand. It was born out of creating stainless steel products from these very mountains. I guess you could liken running the company to mountain climbing. You set the goals and move forward step by step and eventually you get to the top.'

The Alessi company was started in 1921 by Mr Alessio Alessi’s grandfather Carlo, a genius at invention. He invented the Moka espresso maker, which the company became famous for. The company was artisinal in the beginning, with a very small team. Mr Alessio’s father went to work there after the Second World War as a kind of general manager and his uncle took care of all the technical aspects of the machines. It was this generation that really developed the company.

Mr Alessi: “Today Alessi is very famous for design, thanks to my eldest brother Roberto. Roberto has a personal passion for design and in the 70’s he began to invite well known designers to collaborate with our brand to create innovative new products. The very first collaborations were with Franco Sargiani and Ettore Sottsass. By the 80s all our new products were created by external designers, this model of product creation was unique to Alessi.”

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Alessio's Italian tips:

1. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE IN ITALY FOR A FAVOURITE SKI HOLIDAY?

I suggest the DOLOMITI SKI by far the number one ski place in Italy, located in the nord-east Alpin area.

2. CAN YOU SUGGEST A WONDERFUL PLACE TO SKI FOR A SEASONER SKIIER?

MONTEROSA SKI RESORT is a wonderful sky area ​facing the Monterosa mountain, located in Piemonte region. Large compound with possible eli-sky out of the regular slopes.

3. WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE ON THE MOUNTAINS FOR SUMMER ACTIVITIES - HIKING, CLIMBING?

There are many great places in the Alps near Lake Maggiore where I live.  VEGLIA-DEVERO NATUANAL PARK and FORMAZZA are stunning pristine mountains with incredible views. Although I have never stayed there because it is close to my home I have heard that CRAMPIOLO is a great place to stay, it's a village of no more than 20 houses, on the way to the DEVERO LAKE.

4. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE HOTEL IN ITALY?

There are so many wonderful locations from north to south. I suggest the last one I have discovered. A really must stay place called Villa della Pergola, located in Alassio (Savona) in Liguria, less than 500 meters to the Mediterranean sea. This incredible small hotel is built with love and passion. It has a beautiful garden. Must see!

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Posted in 'Business, Designers' on Friday 21st November 2014

Sophia Loren Gala Evening

'AFI's tribute to Italy's most celebrated actress'

Last night we had the great pleasure of attending the American film institute’s (AFI) tribute to Italy’s most celebrated actress, Sophia Loren. The event took place at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre and Sophia Loren’s arrival on the red carpet transported the captivated crowd back to the glamour and beauty of days gone by.

Wearing a bedazzling sequined gown that perfectly framed her famous curves and a contagious smile that lit up the room, at 80 years of age she is the epitome of timeless beauty. This very special evening, part of the AFI festival presented by Audi, honoured Sophia’s illustrious career and all the gifts that she has brought to the world.

The evening began with an intimate conversation with Sophia hosted by director Rob Marshall who directed Sophia in the 2009 musical ‘Nine’. Marshall, who clearly adores Sophia spoke with her candidly about her family and childhood in Naples, the struggles in the early stages of her career, her phenomenal success and her leading men – her honesty was very touching and her expressive face answered most questions before she said a word.

Director Edoardo Ponti, Sophia’s son, also paid tribute to his mother before presenting ‘Human Voice’ an emotive 26 minute short film set in Naples which he directed and his Mother starred in. A truly beautiful collaboration.

The evening was perfectly finished by a 50th anniversary screening of one of Sophia’s most famous movies ‘Marriage Italian Style’ which earnt her an Oscar nomination… and last night, left us with an unforgettable reminder of her phenomenal talent, enchanting presence and unmeasurable beauty.

Images and words credited to Julie Adams.

 

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Posted in 'Actors, We love' on Friday 14th November 2014

Ferragosto recipes for Summertime Entertaining

'with Fabio Dore and Flavio Carnevale - week 1'

This month An Affair with Italy proudly brings you four recipes by Fabio Dore and Flavio Carnevale, owners of the beautiful 'Italian' restaurant Popolo, located in Sydney's Rushcutter's Bay. This inspiring duo are passionate about Southern Italian cuisine and the success of their contemporary Italian restaurant is a testament to their impeccable taste and all embracing Italian hospitality.

Every week we will be sharing with you one traditional Ferragosto recipe as prepared by Fabio and Flavio. The August holidays of Ferragosto celebrates the end of the busy harvest season in Italy with a period of rest and festivities, making these dishes perfect for summertime entertaining everywhere.

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Posted in 'Chefs, Food & Wine' on Tuesday 4th November 2014

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 suits.

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