November 19 2012
My personal style signifier is my own version of the suit – a very fitted jacket, which I would call one-and-a-half breasted because a double-breasted jacket is wider cut, in lightweight cashmere and lightly structured with typically Italian details like a four-button cuff, two undone. The back is also very fitted – I believe a man’s jacket should show the shape of his chest and his bottom. I have matching trousers for formal occasions but mostly I wear a jacket with cargo pants. I always wear a white button-down shirt with the collar buttons undone, a plain cashmere tie and silk pocket handkerchief.
The last thing I bought and loved was my Bentley Continental GT Coupé. It’s not practical – only two proper seats – but few cars are beautiful from the back, and this one is. I walk out to it in the evening, smoke a cigar and marvel at how anyone could design such a lovely machine. It will outlast me – I will never sell it. £135,760, www.bentleymotors.com.
And the thing I’m eyeing next is one of the 48 surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible – it represents such a key moment in bookmaking, and I value books above most things. It is most unlikely to come on to the market, but I would like to look after one for a bit.
In my fridge you’ll aways find cool tap water, homemade pasta and Parmesan.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and style are Giuliano Ghisu, my kinesiologist, who massages away the pain so that, with exercise and a healthy diet, at 58 I’m pretty fit. The tailor who I have gone to for most of my life is Augusto Lemmi. He used to complain that I asked for my jackets to be cut too tight, but I notice that at about 80 he now wears them that way himself. Giuliano Ghisu, Centro Fisiokinesiterapico, Via Gramsci 6, 06073 Corciano (+39075-5172 490). Sartoria Augusto Lemmi, Via G Marconi 61, Perugia (+39075-5729 899).
The best gift I’ve given is identical copies of 1,000 books from my library to my daughters Camilla and Carolina, who have both recently moved to their own homes. I hope that I’ve chosen wisely, and that it will give them the enthusiasm to start up their own libraries.
And the best one I’ve received recently is my birthday present from my family, my Patek Philippe Calatrava watch. It is linear but with so much handcraft inside – wonderfully understated for something so complex. From £14,280, www.patek.com.
A recent find is an ancient Benedictine hermitage, the Eremo di Castelluccio, near Castelluccio di Norcia. It’s on the wild Altopiana plateau in the Monti Sibillini national park and there is nothing there, just nature and silence. You can stay in the Palazzo Seneca at Norcia, Perugia, a family-run boutique hotel that I am pleased to say has been restored by local craftsmen. Palazzo Seneca, Via Cesare Battisti 12, 06046 Norcia, Perugia (+39074-3817 434; www.palazzoseneca.com).
The last music I bought was Islands – Essential Einaudi by Ludovico Einaudi. He is a pianist and composer of calm and contemplative music. I prefer classical music, but The Beatles are also immortal.
The books on my bedside table are A Sé Stesso: Pensieri by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and Storia Delle Mie Disgrazie: Lettere D’Amore Di Abelardo e Eloisa. Aurelius is always with me – he wrote daily notes to remind himself of important things, just phrases and comments that expressed his attitude to life then, which I find I often agree with now. And I have long known the tale of the philosopher Peter Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil, but this is the first time that I’ve read it in their own words. The story is a wonderful mix of love and spirituality.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an engineer and architect. Over the 25 years I have been restoring the buildings of Solomeo (where our headquarters are) and building our theatre and arts forum, I have worked with many architects and engineers, but I would have liked to do it myself. And to take the right attitude – to understand I’m a guardian, not an owner – I need to be a bit of a philosopher, too.