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Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
December 13, 2022
“Italianness—the touch that even when caught from across the borders people recognize instantly—is as evanescent as a warm wind. It is like an elegant gesture, an intriguing nuance that is tucked away in the details,” reads the poetic introduction to Aria d’Italia, a beautiful book by Tod’s recently published by Rizzoli International that is a love letter to the Italian lifestyle. Between its lush green fabric covers are pages, personalities, and photographs by Guido Taroni that capture the mood and sensibility of what it means to be Italian.
The luxury house Tod’s has epitomized Italian ideals for over a century in its collections devoted to skilled craftsmanship, rich materials, design innovations, and that distinct made-in-Italy quality. Aria d’Italia was released in the summer of 2022 as a digital series, its U.S. edition now available for preorder in advance of a nationwide release in February 2023. The visually driven book captivates through an intimate narrative and window into the lives of artists, chefs, and makers whose biographies highlight the passion and care that pervade every aspect of Italian life. The pages of Aria d’Italia have been divided into eight chapters, wherein eight words—Pleasure, Timeless, Imagination, Craftsmanship, Passion, Heritage, Joy, and Boldness—are the foundation for a journey of the senses.
Thumbing through, we join a cast of well-clad individuals, beautifully outfitted within historic residences and idyllic countryside destinations. Each chapter begins with words by Paola Jacobbi, introducing us to the people behind the story. Their backgrounds and areas of expertise vary from the visual arts to entrepreneurial undertakings, hospitality concepts to textiles, and architecture to fashion. Each is complemented with immersive imagery and fantastically colorful illustrations by Franco Raggi that will leave you feeling utterly transported—whether it be to the countryside, the artist’s studio, or the sea.
Aria d’Italia begins with Pleasure, where we hear from the chef Marco Baldeschi, whose Villa Lena in Tuscany is part artist’s residence, part farm-to-table restaurant. “Cooking for others has to be a total pleasure, at least on a par with eating. They are two sides of the same coin, two stages in the same adventure, made up of discoveries for the palate but also for the brain: food is history and culture, a pathway toward wellness in every form,” says Baldeschi. “Every day I discover something new about Italian cuisine. It’s never-ending and complicated. Like us.” The chef is captured in a countryside kitchen among friends, preparing a meal to be savored, but most important, shared with the ones you love.
Photos of an art- and object-filled home with a robust library overlooking a lush pond make up the chapter Timeless. It opens the doors to the stunning restored villa-turned-hotel in the Piedmont region called La Foleia, owned by Gemma Richards and Niccolò Rignano. “True luxury isn't flashy and it isn't necessarily the impeccable tablecloth of a starred restaurant; rather it's an antique table that tells a story you didn't know and that opens up a whole new world for you,” says Richards, committed to sharing with guests the unexpected of their region. It’s there you find the magic, Rignano posits, saying, “In Italy there are still hundreds of villages to discover, and for each village there’s a dish you’ve never tried before, a church you’ve never seen anywhere else.”
The textile artist Zazie Gnecchi Ruscone shares her process in the section devoted to craftsmanship. “Bathed in the orange light of Rome,” Ruscone hand-paints textiles in her studio, where she is photographed with her children surrounded by colorful materials, fabrics, and inspiring curios. She remarks on the special pas de deux of bringing clients into her world to create one-of-a-kind artworks, remarking, “Creating one-of-a-kind pieces also means conversing with each client: I take them into my world, I get them involved in the creation.”
In colorful, fun-filled interiors we find the artist Sergio Fiorentino and the photographer and creative director Rosita Gia, who met in Noto, Sicily. Musing on the Italian imagination, Gia states that it’s a “journey that can change your life.” For Fiorentino, it’s “a dream,” and his blue-filled paintings are inspired by his father’s love of the sea. “It was his imagination that filled me, more than my study of art history,” he says.
The artist Sofia Cacciapaglia, who grew up surrounded by art and music, captures the emotional tug of Italy in the chapter on Boldness. “The searing lights of summer, like that of the empty squares in paintings by de Chirico. Beauty so overwhelming it gives you a tight feeling in your throat. The sun and its opposite, that suspended melancholy you feel toward the end of the day,” she says.
In the chapter devoted to Joy, mother and daughter are caught candidly giggling, among friends playing games, enjoying a meal, against a cozy autumnal outdoor scene. These images are paired with words by the producer and director Virginia Taroni: “There’s a reason everyone dreams about living in Italy. It’s because of our sense of time. Here in Italy, time is not the enemy, time takes care of us. Each day holds the chance to be free, a hypothetical extra hour to have a cup of coffee, meet someone, to find a moment to look at what is all around us.”
Through its pages, Tod’s Aria d’Italia will leave you with the conclusion that the essence of life in Italy is just that—an essence, a feeling, and something intangible, yet worth searching for.