Style | The Aesthete

Dr Franco Gussalli Beretta talks personal style: Part Two

The managing director of the Italian gunmaker fires off the second instalment of his litany of preferences and predilections.

July 01 2011
Simon de Burton

My style icon, if I have one at all, is probably Ralph Lauren. I am not a “classic” dresser and never wear a tie, but I am inspired by the Ralph Lauren look of casual elegance. When we lived in New York we chose several pieces from the Ralph Lauren home collection for our apartment. His stuff fits our taste.

The best gift I have given recently is a pair of ruby earrings, which I bought my wife for her birthday. They were made by Bulgari 30 or 40 years ago, and I found them in a jewellery store in Brescia called Veschetti, which specialises in antique pieces. Corso Magenta 27/e, 25121 Brescia (+39030-40477;

And the best one I have received is something I gave myself. I believe that you get to a stage when you only buy something for yourself because you know you will really appreciate it. My special thing is, of course, a wristwatch. It is a unique Rolex that was created for me by Ennio Barozzi, a horologist in Brescia who has taught me everything I know about watches. I love sports watches, but Rolex does not make a mechanism that really excites me, so Ennio said he would make me a watch using an original Yacht-Master case containing a perpetual calendar movement and fitted with a custom-made dial marked with my initials. Boutique Barozzi, Via Gramsci 16/B, 25122 Brescia, Italy (+39030-375 2710;

The sight that inspires me more than any other is the sea. I will do anything just to go and look at it, to sail on it, to scuba-dive in it. I especially love the seas around the Greek islands and around Sardinia. All my most precious moments with my family and friends have been related to the sea.

The one object I would never part with is my Maserati Quattroporte. Usually, I get rid of my old car when I buy a new one, but when the Porsche Cayenne came along I decided to keep the Quattroporte to give to my son in years to come. It is dark blue with a red interior, and not only is it a fabulous car, but it was designed and built in Italy. From £81,275;

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a scarf. I love scarves, and last year a friend of mine called Luca Roda created a collection inspired by the ascent of Everest by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, featuring the flags of Great Britain and the countries that are crossed by the Himalayas, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Another scarf is based on the old Italian flag and commemorates the unification of Italy 150 years ago. €230;

The artist whose work I would collect if I could – and actually, I do – is Velasco Vitali. I am very fortunate in that my wife is passionate about art and her father is a serious collector who was Velasco’s mentor. We have a great deal of his art from different moments of his life, but the one I like best is a painting of Christ.

My favourite room is at the Beretta house in Gardone, which was built by my great-grandfather. It is not a room as such, but a staircase that rises from the first to the second floor. It is lined with yellow marble and it has a mosaic ceiling painted with gold leaf. It is flooded with light from three huge windows – some people might think it is over-the-top, but I adore it.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city it would be Madison Avenue in New York. I always enjoyed shopping there when we lived in Manhattan and it still gives me a buzz whenever I go back. Opening the Beretta store there was a big moment for me. 718 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10065 (+1212-319 3235).

The people I rely on for grooming and style are, I am afraid, non-existent. That sort of thing doesn’t really interest me. My wife and I do, however, have a private Pilates trainer, and I do like to have a good massage once in a while.

The one grooming staple I am never without is hotel soap – I know that many people spend a lot of money on special shaving creams and so on, but I’m happy to use soap. It has become too complicated to take things such as shaving foam and cologne onto aeroplanes, so I don’t bother when I travel. Hotel soap works just fine.

If I didn’t live in Brescia, I would want to live in Sydney – it gives me a sense of a big city with lots of green spaces. It has everything you could need but is not at all chaotic. Best of all, of course, it has the beach and the sea.

My favourite website is Ansa, a general news website that’s not related to any newspaper, so it’s not affected by politics. I also love YouTube and often watch it with my son, Carlo, who is 14.