We all know Italians are stylish. Remember my recent post about shopping? Italians spend alot of money on clothes. Appearance is so important to them because one of the foundations of their society is the philosophy of fare la bella figura or making a good impression. No Italian would EVER consider running down to the corner store in a pair of sweats and hair thrown into a baseball cap. That is downright uncivilized and who knows who you might run into along the way.
But the sense of aesthetic and fabulous style doesn't stop with clothing. It is everywhere in the presentation of everything. Window shopping is a treat because every store - from Armani to the local pastry shop - fills its front with beautiful details depending on the season. Gift purchases of any kind are wrapped with such care and elegance that the wrappings are likely to have cost more than the little present itself.
I often look to Italian shops and boutiques for inspiration (not to mention to the Italians themselves). And sometimes my inspiration comes from different places - an antipasto platter arranged beautifully at a vineyard winetasting, a gorgeous welcome basket in a country villa, or flowers arranged in a way that immediately invites you in. The photo above was taken in the lobby of L'Albereta, a Relaix & Chateaux property in the region of Franciacorta. It is quite possibly the loveliest hotel I have experienced in Italy. The lobby is quite small but cheerful and comfortable while still maintaining an air of elegance - much like the Italians. I loved this monochromatic arrangements of flowers so much that I replicated it immediately when I returned home. I used silk flowers rather than fresh because really, would I replace the flowers every 5 days? Of course not. And my attempt at elegance and style would wither into moldy stems and drooping petals. The flowers look beautiful just the same and I really do think it adds an feeling of tranquility and elegance to the room. Everytime I look at that arrangement, I remember my trip to Franciacorta and the beautiful L'Albereta. I love traveling - trying new food, learning about the history, the art, the culture. But mostly, I embrace the words of Miriam Beard: "travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on that is deep and permanent, in the ideas of living". Once you go to Italy, you can't help but embrace the concept of la dolce vita and la bella figura. Let them become a part of you and your life will be enriched, even just a little bit.