Pomellato’s Vincenzo Castaldo on Iceland’s Vatna glacier, Puccini’s arias and the powerful art of John Singer Sargent
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My personal style signifiers are my Birkenstock sandals. I have disliked shoes since I was a child, so regardless of the weather I wear brown or black sandals – in winter with cashmere or Shetland-wool socks in beige, grey and khaki. I am a little Franciscan in my tastes and these sandals reflect that. £64.95; birkenstock.com
The last thing I bought and loved was a stylus for my iPad. I am always on the go, so now I can sketch, design and colour wherever inspiration strikes. £99; apple.com
And the thing I’m eyeing next is a folding screen by Piero Fornasetti. It is a depiction of a nocturnal forest and I find this fantasy scene totally transporting. For me, Fornasetti is the great poet of Milanese design. €18,000; fornasetti.com
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Tch’a – La Maison de Thé in Paris. I loved the very sober atmosphere as well as the vegetable-centred menu. The ingredients and combinations were outstanding. I had steamed fish with ginger and lemongrass, and the most delicious chocolate gâteau ever. 6 Rue du Pont de Lodi, 75006 Paris (+331-4329 6131)
The grooming products I’m never without are the perfume Cardinal by Heeley, which is like incense, and Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge lavender cologne, which has a timeless, herbal scent I find very calming. Czech & Speake Oxford & Cambridge, £100 for 100ml EDC; czechandspeake.com. Heeley Cardinal, €125 for 100ml EDP; jamesheeley.com
The last book I read was The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga by the travel writer Sylvain Tesson, about the six months he spent in isolation on a lake. Tesson proves that solitude can be rewarding; only when you are alone can you begin to hear the murmur of time passing and be attentive to your own metamorphosis.
An indulgence I would never forgo is ice cream, especially from Gelateria Umberto near my home. It isn’t a fancy gelateria – some days it serves just five flavours. I always pick the hazelnut and pistachio as I love these colours together. Piazza Cinque Giornate 4, 20129 Milan (+3902-545 8113)
A recent “find” is Il Crepaccio, a series of exhibitions by talented emerging artists at a restaurant in Milan called Il Carpaccio, curated by the critic Caroline Corbetta. I like that the restaurant is a traditional osteria that’s a little fashion-oriented, but not too much. Via Lazzaro Palazzi 19, 20124 Milan
In my fridge you’ll always find everything green and organic. I love pressed juices by Babasucco for digestive health and detoxing – made from pomegranate, spinach, apple and lemon. They’re full of vitamins and are packaged beautifully too. €60 for six 500ml bottles; babasucco.com
The last thing I added to my wardrobe was a satin and wool smoking jacket by Boglioli. The style is masculine and sophisticated, but best of all, it’s so comfortable. boglioli.it
If I had to limit my shopping to one city, I’d choose Berlin, particularly the areas of Mitte, Schöneberg, Tiergarten and Kreuzberg. One of my favourite cafés is Berliner Kaffeerösterei, which makes special coffee beans with hazelnuts that I love. For perfume I like the selection at Belle Rebelle, and I always find interesting clothes by German designers at Andreas Murkudis. Bossecker is wonderful for 1950s furniture. Andreas Murkudis, Potsdamer Strasse 81E, 10785 (+4930-6807 98306; andreasmurkudis.com). Belle Rebelle, Bleibtreustrasse 42, 10623 (+4930-6796 72050; bellerebelle.de). Berliner Kaffeerösterei, Uhlandstrasse 172, 10719 (+4930-8867 7920; berliner-kaffeeroesterei.de)
My favourite websites are Internazionale.it for the best current events articles, and Parterrederois.com, an arts and culture magazine founded by Gianni Tozzi and Molly Molloy. It reads like an imaginary dinner party that brings together artists, writers, experimenters and singers.
My style icon is Paul Newman, particularly in the 1966 Alfred Hitchcock film Torn Curtain. He embodied personal style and confidence and also lived his life with so much integrity; he was committed to helping others.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Iceland. I have always been drawn to expansive, open spaces in nature and I was able to lose myself here. The Vatna glacier is one of the largest ice caps in Europe and it was stunning, as were the Goðafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls. Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” This felt absolutely true in Iceland.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is an antique plaster bust of the Farnese Hercules. I found it 10 years ago at a flea market in Pietrasanta, near Lucca – where I studied art.
The people I rely on for grooming and wellbeing include Stefano Terzuolo, who has been looking after my hair and beard for 15 years. His salon, Gum, is beautiful: it’s an old apartment with incredible inlaid floors and coffered ceilings that make going here a pleasure. Christian Cantalupo is my personal trainer at Manzoni Fitness Club – he helps me with core exercises to strengthen my back and dynamic cardio work at the end of the day. Gum, Corso Italia 46, 20122 Milan (+3902-3660 1940; gumsalon.com). Manzoni Fitness Club, Vicolo Giardino 3, 20121 Milan (+3902-7202 0058)
The last music I downloaded was Puccini’s Com’è Lunga l’Attesa! for my mornings at work, when I like classical music. For my workouts at the gym I like disco; another recent addition was M83’s uplifting Raconte-Moi Une Histoire from the album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is John Singer Sargent, in particular his Portrait of Rodin. Sargent had an eclectic background, was truly international and was a curious and impeccable artist. I love the psychological value of his paintings and the power they emanate.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a titanium and gold ring that I designed for a very special friend. She is elegant and has a minimalist aesthetic, so I thought she would like this ring in shades of grey with a brilliant aquamarine stone.
And the best one I’ve received recently is an antique Buddha sculpture from India that was once owned by a friend. When he died the piece went missing, but another close friend knew how much I loved it and tracked it down for me. It sits at the entrance to my home and is incredibly important to me.
My favourite room in my house is my terrace. I live high above the city and this is my contact with the energy below. I enjoy the noise by day and the glittering lights of Milan at night. I drink my first coffee of the morning out here and in summer it’s a wonderful space for dinner parties – green and serene, with lots of plants.
If I didn’t live in Milan, the city I would live in is Buenos Aires – it’s very international, the people are welcoming and the architecture resonates with me. There are so many amazing sites: I love wandering through La Recoleta Cemetery, and the Teatro Colón feels just like La Scala. The Latin American art museum is very special, and I like spending time in the chic Palermo Soho and La Boca neighbourhoods. La Recoleta Cemetery, Junín 1760, 1113 (+5411-4803 1594; turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar). Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorta 3415, C1425 (+5411-4808 6500; malba.org.ar). Teatro Colón, Cerrito 628, 1010 (+5411-4378 7109; teatrocolon.org.ar)
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a psychologist. I am intrigued by the fact that everything is connected to the subconscious; we are guided by it without realising. I think it’s very important to understand your path and I also like the idea of being a counsellor to other people.
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