My style icon is Tom Ford, for his understated elegance. In my view he is a better ambassador for “made in Italy” than most Italians.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Corso Magenta in Milan, a city with the perfect combination of art and fashion. For clothes I go to M Bardelli, where I find things I cannot find in Venice, or Barba in Via Gesù for pieces that fit wonderfully and are extremely comfortable. I also love the historical knives boutique Lorenzi, the antiques dealers in the 5Vie district, and Pasticceria Marchesi, where you can find the best panettone – I adore sweet things. 5Vie District, www.5vie.it.Barba Napoli, Via Gesù 19 (+3902-7628 0782; www.barbanapoli.com). M Bardelli, Corso Magenta 13 (+3902-8645 0734; www.mbardelli.com). Coltelleria Lorenzi Milano, Corso Magenta 1 (+3902-869 2997; www.o-lorenzi.it). Pasticceria Marchesi, Via Monte Napoleone 9 (+3902-7600 8238; www.pasticceriamarchesi.it).
The sight that inspires me is Venice, my wonderland. No city is more beautiful or stirring. I have lived here all my life and I travel often, but every time I return home it is a privilege and a delight.
The artists whose work I would collect if I could are the conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti and the painter and printmaker Giorgio Morandi. I admire the fact that Boetti was among the first artists to think globally, exploring the craftsmanship of countries such as Afghanistan through his embroidered maps, and I love Morandi’s still-life paintings with their dusty, warm colours that reflect the interiors where he created his works of art.
The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were Incotex trousers and a Boglioli suit, which are very comfortable and well-fitting. I bought them in a menswear shop called Shirts & Ties close to St Mark’s Square, the kind of place where the service is so good you always walk out with a smile. Shirts & Ties, San Marco 1279, 30124 Venice (+3904-1522 4948; www.shirtsandties.it).
An indulgence I would never forgo is music. I don’t have a TV and I don’t want one, but the first thing I do when I walk in is switch some music on for relaxation – and also light some Acqua di Parma candles. From £63;www.acquadiparma.com.
In my fridge you’ll always find Parmesan, fresh tortellini, several bottles of prosecco and candied ginger covered with chocolate, which I really can’t live without; I get it from VizioVirtù, the best chocolate shop in Venice. And I buy seasonal fruit and vegetables from the charming boat docked in San Barnaba, where quality and service are equally good. Unusually for Venice, even the prices are reasonable. VizioVirtù Cioccolateria, Calle Forneri, 30122 Venice (+3904-1275 0149; www.viziovirtu.com).
The people I rely on for personal grooming are at Fabris Nicola, a very old-fashioned barbershop not far from where I live. I have been visiting so long I feel at home there. There is no pomposity – you are just in and out. Dorsoduro 881A, 30123 Venice (+39041-523 8934).
If I didn’t live in Venice, the city I would live in is London, because it offers so much and is very welcoming. I love how it’s made up of many villages and is a melting pot of cultures yet has tradition and history. I’ll go to Daphne’s and Lucio, where you can have a good conversation with friends or business associates while enjoying really great food. I adore the V&A because it is a walk through the world, a place of endless discovery; and the Royal Academy and the Tate, which have the most wonderful exhibitions. And the Saatchi Gallery is a joy to visit because of its glorious spaces – anything looks good there. I also love museum shops for gifts. Daphne’s, 112 Draycott Avenue, SW3 (020-7589 4257; www.daphnes-restaurant.co.uk). Lucio, 257-259 Fulham Road, SW3 (020-7823 3007; www.luciorestaurant.com). Royal Academy, Burlington House, W1 (020-7300 8090; www.royalacademy.org.uk).Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, SW3 (020-7811 3070; www.saatchigallery.com).Tate, Millbank, SW1 (020-7887 8888; www.tate.org.uk). Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 (020-7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk).
The last meal that truly impressed me was in Qatar at the home of the family who own the W Doha Hotel. It was a fantastic experience of Arabian hospitality and opulence. I love this type of cuisine and it was laid out as a buffet, as is traditional there, with an incredible variety of dishes, salads and sauces. It is polite to serve yourself twice at such occasions; I couldn’t resist trying just about everything, so I made two visits – and then two more when the sweet course was served.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a scholar, digging for forgotten secrets in Venice’s museums and archives – specialists like the Biblioteca Marciana, which has one of the world’s greatest collections of classical texts; the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a private foundation with a lovely welcoming library; and the Archivio di Stato, founded by Napoleon. They contain records, letters, photographs, scrapbooks and artefacts from ancient Venice. How wonderful and fascinating to see something handwritten and covered in dust that may not have been looked at for centuries. It’s like an exciting treasure hunt of history. Archivio di Stato, Campo dei Frari 3002 (+39041-522 2281; www.archiviodistatovenezia.it). Biblioteca Marciana, Piazzetta San Marco 7 (+39041-240 7211; www.marciana.venezia.sbn.it). Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Santa Maria Formosa, 5252, 30122 Castello (+39041-271 1411; www.querinistampalia.org).