In the Land of Gucci, Pucci & Fiorucci

Italy: Home to rich history, stunning landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, and captivating art. A must-visit destination.
BY Mena Lombard

Ever since I learned the meanning of La Dolce Vita, I have been in pursuit of it. Many life decisions I have made and still make are with that goal in mind. My idea of La Dolce Vita is one that, at its core, can encompass beauty and enjoyment in everything I experience. It sounds both simple and utopian at the same time, right?

But I think we can all agree that dreams have a tendency to be that way. I envision my Dolce Vita as quite a mundane one. I like to find pleasure in the little and simple details of everyday life; it seems the perfect recipe for happiness. Filling my day with interesting, elegant, and joyful experiences provides me with both peace and fulfillment.

Old vintage cult car parked on the street by the restaurant, in the Italian town.

It is utopian, but at the same time, it sounds possible. Federico Fellini’s legendary film gave birth to the concept of La Dolce Vita, and since then, such concept has been linked and tied to the Italian culture, but more precisely, to the Roman way of life. The idea of living a life full of beauty, pleasure, and luxury is forever associated with the eternal city, and it is said that you can only find La Dolce Vita there.

I am currently working on a project that brought me to Rome, and the experience of working and living in this incredible city has been nothing short of enlightening. During my time here, I have not only made remarkable discoveries about myself, but I have also been able to decode the mystery and magic behind what it means to live La Dolce Vita. And this knowledge has allowed me to understand why life sounds and tastes sweeter in Italian. La Dolce Vita is linked to the Italian culture because of the unique characteristics this one possesses.

September 20, 2018: Milan, Italy - Street style outfit during Milan Fashion Week - MFWSS19

At the heart of everything you see, do, and experience in Italy, there are always three main elements present: color, sophistication, and fun. These are the three pillars on which the Italians create, build, and experience everything. Color, sophistication, and fun are the secret ingredients of their everyday life. Think of the delicious tiramisu, the breathtaking monuments, the timeless fashion, and the unforgettable get-togethers around the dining table. Everything in Italy revolves around colorful and sophisticated fun.

Color in Italy is omnipresent in everything you see. Every landscape, every building, and every dish has color as a main ingredient and as an essential design element. In Italy, color has character and personality, and it demands attention. Color is pivotal to Italian culture because it evokes emotions, and emotions run high in the Italian DNA. Take a walk down the Trastevere, and the richness of color will take your breath away. You will find yourself walking along narrow alleys among hues you have never seen before. The combination of centuries of use, weather, and paint has created masterpieces in every wall you walk by. It seems that the years played artist and used all that stucco as its own personal canvas. As a result, every inch exudes an effortless sophistication, almost as if time was singing and dancing while fading each brick and block along the way.

A view of the charming neighborhood of Trastevere in Rome

Along with its colorfulness, Italy is, by nature, sophisticated. Italian people are worldly and cultured and have thousands of years of history, experience, and learnings they live by. This has provided them with not only wisdom but also perspective, allowing them to appreciate the little things and focus on the important ones. To Italians, quality, design, and longevity are essential. And they are because they clearly differentiate between what is important from what is not. To them, values and desires are very different from each other. Not only do they always keep that in mind, but they also act according to it. It is not that they don’t have short-term whims. It is more about never forgetting about their long-term principles. That is present in everything they create. From the simplest cup of coffee to the time-worn walls of the Trastevere to the most mesmerizing Puccini’s operatic aria, there is always an element of sophistication present.

Homemade lasagna with minced beef bolognese and bechamel sauce topped wild arugula, parmesan cheese.

Last but not least, if there is something that Italians have and are, it is fun. At its core, Italian people and culture revolve around enjoyment. Places, things, and moments have no meaning, no purpose, and no soul if they are not fun. This doesn’t mean that Italians cannot be serious. It means that to them, it all comes down to the experience. Their creations begin with an idea, but it doesn’t end when that idea becomes a reality. It ends when that idea is being lived. Italians have used the concept of fun as a purpose and as a means to an end. Let’s take a dish of lasagna, for example. Having a lasagna is fun by itself, but not only because it is made with dedication, using quality ingredients, or served beautifully on a plate. It is fun because when you go to any restaurant in Rome, you start enjoying your lasagna when you sit down at the table. The whole experience of chatting with the waiter, the conversations from the other tables, and the enjoyment of the decoration surrounding you is all part of the lasagna.

Mena Lombard and daughter Martina during lunch in Rome. Photography: Flávio Iryoda.

And then, we have the next level. When that same dish, or any other for that matter, becomes a means to an end. When the lasagna becomes the reason why people get together around a table to eat, talk, and catch up. That lasagna is still delicious, made with love, and served beautifully. But in addition to that, it became a few hours of time surrounded by people you care about and accompanied with talks, laughs, and the next plan to get together. When the lasagna is a means to an end, it is when it fills your stomach with a delicious meal and your heart with joy, hope, and plans for the next gathering.

This is, so far, my newest discovery. But I would not be true to this fashion magazine or myself if I did not translate this knowledge into fashion terms. And, so, to wrap up, I want to say that I firmly believe that to live La Dolce Vita means that you have learned to see color like Pucci, breathe sophistication like Gucci and have fun like Fiorucci. Living a sweet life means that you are finding joy in everything you have and everything you do. It means you learned to relish each tint, shade, and hue surrounding you. And that you are being able to appreciate the elegance of every thought, care, and commitment behind every moment and every creation. My personal Dolce Vita search has led me to this revelation. And I was able to discover and experience it all in the land of Gucci, Pucci, and Fiorucci.

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