If your New Year’s resolutions included a glorious return to air travel and the in-person fashion week craze, you will have to stand still and wait a little longer as the pandemic and consequent restrictions are still ruling over Europe.
In the meantime, instead of packing your luggage, recharge your mobile phone and check the feeds of these five Instagram accounts offering the best windows seats to Italian culture, design, food and lifestyle.
Daydreaming about relaxing strolls down pretty streets of Italian towns, lunches al fresco and weekend gateways on the Tuscan hills or Dolomites is free and just a double-tap away.
There are very few accounts that can interrupt a compulsive scrolling on Instagram, and this is one of them. Each of its daily posts commands a pause from reality even if just for minutes to indulge in artistic images of different corners of the country, its rich architecture and lush natural landscapes. It also allows followers to discover anecdotes behind traditional recipes, signature cocktails, Italian popular expressions and landmark movies.
Led by Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti and Adam Boniel, Italy Segreta was launched in early 2019 but its popularity exponentially escalated last year, when the confinement initiated a nostalgic movement and authentic appreciation for the country. Italians rediscovered national treasures they took for granted and an international audience fed a fascination for the Bel Paese.
In particular, during the first lockdown the hashtag #italyfromawindow invited users to share images of what they saw from their homes, spotlighting the charm of familiar locations and simple pleasures. Over the summer, the #howitalyfeels hashtag was added to flank contents the community shared once it was able to return to social interactions.
With its genuine approach, inspiring visuals, variety of themes and a narrative that drifts away from usual clichés, Italy Segreta became one of the most effective vehicles of promotion of the country as its tourism and hospitality industry significantly struggled through the pandemic.
“To preserve, discover, enhance and share all the best Italy has to offer, telegraphing a lifestyle based on appreciating the small pleasures of life” is the ultimate goal of the format, according to its founders.
Given the success of the account, which currently counts more than 220,000 followers, Italy Segreta has also evolved into a dedicated website, which Cacciapuoti defined as “a natural extension intended to dig deeper and further develop the editorial side and mission of Italy Segreta.” This year, the format will also launch projects focusing on Italian craftsmanship and scouting of the most charming real estate properties in the country.
It’s often said true beauty lies in the details. Looking at Doors of Italy, the Instagram account launched in 2016 by photographer and brand and social media consultant Ryan Neeven, one couldn’t agree more.
Italy can offer plenty of beautiful sceneries and photo-ops, but they don’t necessarily need to coincide with its landmark monuments. Neeven has amassed quite a following of enthusiasts fascinated, as much as he is, by the crumbling beauty or grandeur of Italy’s doors, either they be entrances to Baroque buildings in central Milan or pop-tinged facades of houses in Burano, the island in the Venetian Lagoon known for its lace work.
“Doors represent this uniqueness of Italy [that] I have never found in any other country I’ve traveled to,” Neeven explained. “No two are alike and each boasts its own sense of character. Each town has its own unique architecture that is portrayed by the doors.”
The account features images taken by Neeven along with shots provided by his community of more than 14,000 fans. Indeed, his goal has always been to simply create a community of people who share the same passion, but he dreams bigger, too, hoping to be able to turn his collection of picturesque shots into a coffee table book.
Until then, your smartphone screen can provide a very Italian feast for the eyes.
Talented architects and interior designers abound in the country, with most of them sharing their work in visually satisfying accounts, but Cristina Celestino’s is particularly noteworthy for her terrific eye that spots and captures appealing texture combinations, chromatic juxtapositions and perfect geometries also in ordinary locations.
Founder of the Milan-based Attico Design firm, the architect, interior designer and collector uses Instagram as a tool to both unveil her latest projects and share artistic close-ups on architectural elements she randomly comes across throughout Italy.
“I find inspirations in architectures of all eras that vibrate under the light, in materials and patterns, in the beauty of nature, in the timeless design of the great masters and the casual charm I find in unexpected places,” Celestino said.
So in between images of the rooms of the historic Palazzo Avino hotel on the Amalfi Coast she revisited and shots of the cocktail bar she conceived for Il Palazzo Experimental boutique hotel in Venice, pictures of entryways of Milanese buildings, details of the city’s train station or public gardens and zooming in on fabrics pop up on her feed.
These contents create a moodboard (soon to be enriched with the latest project Celestino developed for the Saba design company) that is an invitation to look for beauty everywhere. More pragmatically, the account will increase the urge to revamp your homes with a bold, Italian touch.
Nothing screams Italy more than food. Local cuisine specialities inspired expats to sharpen their cooking skills and release books revisiting staple recipes but for suggestions coming directly from an Italian, Giulia Scarpaleggia made her secret food tricks accessible to an international audience through her Juls’ Kitchen account.
First launched in 2009 as a blog, which still represents the core of Scarpaleggia’s activity, Juls’ Kitchen offers traditional, seasonal recipes as well as a glimpse of the genuine family lifestyle the founder and her husband, web designer and photographer Tommaso Galli, lead in the Tuscan countryside.
While Scarpaleggia prepares delicacies ranging from homemade tagliatelle with Tuscan kale pesto, chestnut flour fresh pasta with walnut sauce and broccoli and squash flans to Lucca’s typical sweet bread Buccellato, Galli captures the whole process in a series of images making mouths water instantly. Each recipe also comes with extensive information on ingredients and historic anecdotes to further tickle readers’ curiosity.
“The mission is to draw people in the kitchen through honest images that whet your appetite, because cooking is for everybody. We want people to regain confidence in cooking and have fun while doing it, as well as let them know that with few seasonal and quality ingredients they can prepare recipes that make them feel good,” Scarpaleggia said.
Also in light of this direct approach, her website was selected by Saveur magazine as Best Food Culture Blog in 2019 and Scarpaleggia is readying the release of her sixth book of recipes to be published by Artisan Books. The format also counts on a newsletter, cooking classes and a series of podcasts dubbed “Cooking With an Italian Accent.”
The Italians are very proud of their traditions especially the ones treasured by the elderly.
When she came to Italy, Tiana Kai, a social media specialist currently based in Los Angeles, was immediately fascinated by old ladies and gentlemen strutting down the streets of the country. Their appeal only grew stronger as she missed her grandfather living in the U.S. while in Florence working as a travel blogger.
In 2012 she launched Not My Nonni (“nonni” stands for grandparents in Italian) as a tribute to Italian common grandparent types, who she believes tell a lot about the country itself. “Italy is a creative country, and a fashionable one, too! Italian ‘nonni’ dress incredibly well, and I think that it shows how to age with grace, how to respect ourselves and how to show up in the world even if we only have to walk to the grocery store,” Kai said.
Images incorporate Italian architecture, dishes and habits, giving a heartwarming glimpse into the Italian lifestyle, through the people who’ve endured through good and bad times and helped shape Italy as it is today. From a personal project it evolved into a community-based effort with each image accompanied by a caption evoking the particular context in which the elderly has been portrayed — all with poetic imagination.