May 06 2011
My style icon is, at this particular moment, [Fiat-Chrysler CEO] Sergio Marchionne. He’s quite an important figure for the future of Italy. He handled last year’s referendum extremely well and has, in general, shown an amazing talent in bringing the company back from the brink of being obsolete. And as a businessperson, as a manager, it has to be said, he’s done so with amazing style. He’s one of the best choices Fiat has made in the past 40 years.
The last meal that truly impressed me? I thought about this quite a bit, and the first and last place that came to mind, surpassing the others, was my own home when my wife makes spaghetti alla carbonara. It’s a quintessential Roman dish – my wife has a Roman mother and a Sienese father – and it’s supremely simple. But at my house, by my wife, it is always perfectly executed.
My favourite website is Google. I know it’s a search tool rather than a site, but that’s just it: I find whatever I need, instantly, and honestly rarely remember, or note, which site it leads me to. Everything starts with Google, is how I see it.
In my fridge you’ll always find a bottle of Pomino Benefizio, from our Pomino estate. It’s a chardonnay with the character of a Mersault – very much a good white burgundy-style wine. And very, very good with fresh fish. www.frescobaldi.it.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the desert of Oman. I was with my wife and it was the first time either of us had visited the country. I found it spectacular, absolutely beautiful, and completely different in every way from The Emirates – Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Just total desert. It’s very attractive and compelling – and a surprise, like all good things.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I think I’d choose this part of Florence, the Oltrarno – all along the Via San Frediano and the Via Maggio. It’s where I go to do everything; it’s deeply local. They are almost all small manufacturers, or antiques dealers or restorers, or producers of artisanal, handmade things. It feels a bit like a small family on these streets. Many are very informed in their areas, so you can have some very interesting conversations. I want to support them and their businesses, and also to protect the area – so often if one closes, it’s replaced by a chain café or shoe store. So many shoe stores... How many pairs of shoes does one need, really?
The last item I added to my closet was a silk tie from Ferragamo; yellow, with a pattern of small elephants. Very typical of them. £99; www.ferragamo.com.
The site that inspires me is Petra in Jordan. I have been back several times in the past few years. I’m very fond of Jordan generally – the people, the culture – and Petra is just one of many beautiful and interesting places there, but it stays with me, I believe, for the combination of spectacle, its sheer beauty, and ancient-ness.
The three grooming staples I’m never without? There are none in particular. I find my credit card is my safest staple – it will get me whatever I find I need to keep myself groomed.
My favourite room is the library of our country house in Castiglioni. There is a fireplace, a very comfortable armchair, always some music. And it has excellent light, but the ceilings aren’t too high – lower than other rooms in the house – so it’s very cosy.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home was actually years ago – I’m always travelling and I actually try to not bring things home – from Shanghai: a pair of old, probably 18th-century, ceramic dragons I found at an antiques market. I brought them home as a surprise for my wife. They’re hand-painted, of course, and very colourful.
The last music I bought is a lovely collection called The Choirgirl by Isabel Suckling, who’s the daughter of [wine critic and former Wine Spectator senior editor] James Suckling. She’s very young, a teenager, but she sings classical cantatas beautifully. www.thechoirgirlisabel.co.uk.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I’d love to be a pilot. They’re up there in the air, which allows them to see a great deal from a unique perspective. That’s something I’ve always envied a bit: the constant experiencing of new places, and in this quite special way... so much curiosity gratified. And I imagine it would be the ultimate liberty from the day-to-day. Complete freedom; and silence.