The Purist, 2017 Cristina Cuomo
Where is your favorite place in the world to travel and why?
Living and studying in Florence and summering with my grandmother in The Hamptons, two of the most fabulous places in the world, makes it extremely difficult for me to choose between the two!
Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, helped me develop my taste for the beauty and uniqueness by studying and appreciating the craftsmanship, the colors, and the treasures of its Art and Architecture.
The Hamptons is a peaceful escape where, since I was a child, I had the luck and the pleasure to be with my grandmother, who loved the American Folk Art and who had an amazing house, filled with artifacts and artworks, including odd pieces like an enormous merry go round rabbit, tavern signs, an Amish carriage, dolls, stoneware, a barber shop pole, incredible furniture and portraits … I felt like Alice In Wonderland
Today, I travel all over the world, but there is not a better place better than my two homes … I can’t pick one over the other!
Where do you stay when you are there? Why?
I am lucky to live right in front of the Pitti Palace just above my atelier and below my creative studio. I enjoy every sunrise and sunset when the light changes on the enormous stones of the home of the Medici Grand Dukes (and later, home to the first King of Italy), causing them to glow in a dark coral hue.
My favorite places for all my friends, visiting from abroad, are always the Four Seasons Hotel and the JK Place.
I love Westhampton Beach where my great-grandfather, the pathologist Dr. James Ewing, decided to have his residence. He picked it because it was the closest of the “Hamptons” and he could get to the city for any hospital emergency. The village, incorporated in 1928, has the same allure and friendly feeling after all these years.
What do you like to do there? And why?
I love to bring my kids to school in the morning after my yoga, and then have a nice caffelatte before starting work, visiting my artisans at the atelier, which is a short ride through the Tuscan hills.
I also love to lunch with my husband at our JT Caffè with a simple fresh tomatoes and basil sauce tagliatella (Marzia makes the fresh pasta every day) or my favorite JT Salad (arugula, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, avocado and heart of palm.
If I’m lucky, I can fit in a game of tennis every once in a while.
Florence is constant reminder of what a good life is all about.
We start in the morning with tennis, then we stop for a well deserved toasted bagel, crème cheese and sometimes Nova Salmon!! (We have a Goldberg’s Famous Deli closed to us and also to my Atelier in the Hamptons … so tempting!).
Then as soon as we can we go to the Beach Club trying to enjoy the breeze and the quiet…watching the kids surfing or just having fun with waves!
In the afternoon there is always something going on, it can be the artists open market or the story book reading in the village park.
And if we are still hungry for dinner the best place is Sushi 1, small, cozy and understated with a superior quality and impeccable service.
Are there people (New Yorkers, celebs) who you see there regularly?
There is an interesting and eclectic international community in Florence, whom I am lucky to meet through the International School of Florence or the American Consulate … by the way, thank you to the Consul and the Vice-Consul, who have been so fantastic for the American visitors and expats!
My atelier is in front of the Pitti Palace as well so…everyone pass by all the year along…
The Hamptons are full of opportunities for meeting special people, but everyone can feel like a celeb just hanging out at the Country Club or at the fabulous parties that go on all summer long…but to be honest about names, titles etc….whatever happens in the Hamptons stays in the Hamptons!
If a friend were going there, what would you recommend they do, see, eat, shop for, etc....
Do not even bother to check the travel guides … just come by and ask me!! I like everyone to feel at home while in Florence and the best way is to just ask me because there is always some new event, shop or restaurant that only the locals know about.
The Hamptons needs to be lived, breathed … a total immersion for your body and soul … long white beaches, early morning sea glass hunting, wonderful people, lots of sports, sun and sand for the kids, and as I’ve mentioned before, there are great things to eat!
How do your travels inspire your work or other areas of your life?
After all these years travelling between The Hamptons and Florence, I have come to understand how wonderful and inspiring both places are to me. I am able to find my inspiration all the time from both locations. I love to travel. I love to feel, eat and breath as a local and this is the only way for me to get inspired for a new collection. In my family life, in both places I share with my kids the love and the history of both sides of my heritage, Italian and American, and maybe in the future with my grandchildren…
What is your favorite item (it can be a souvenir, article of clothing, décor piece; anything) that you have picked up while traveling?
Leather… fine soft leather… the more buttery the better! Since I cannot always carry food, olive oil or wine with me, at least I have something that is still the best found in Tuscany!
I love hats … large, colorful summer beach hats … useful protecting the face skin from the UV and lovely to wear all the time.
I can’t travel without:
My kids and my husband!
My reversible leather jacket, optical intrecciato cross body bag and my ballet flats…and ... well ... also my Zebra & Lion Travel Pillow!!
Feel free to share any travel-related tidbits that I did not ask about—such as packing tips, travel bucket list destinations, etc.
I am very good at packing … my next project will be a packing survival kit for everyone!!
My husband has just realized that working away from home (he just retired after eleven years with Bottega Veneta) was definitely easier than traveling with me and my luggage!