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Italy’s Secret Concierge
Ever had extreme journey envy It’s that condition symptomatic of homogenized luxury, when you’ve got been to the coalface of motels throbbing with bling and all you need is quiet glamour.
Step ahead John Bird. His world centres on southern Italy, the place he opens doors to tiptop non-public villas and journeys that stir the blood — is not that a given in Italy Australian-born, he is achingly properly-related, he is the insider’s concierge.
His world is the brand new definition of luxury. Nothing is extra glamorous in the 21st century than being personally greeted at your airport, driven by ordered umbrella pines to your villa, which in Fowl’s handle book will likely be one of many grand dames of Italy. The glass of Prosecco softens your journey on arrival. This is low-chic living (the oligarchs are all out of sight in Forte dei Marni), the place your day is punctuated with the pleasure of getting a reside-in host to organise no matter your coronary heart wishes.
Bird’s Italy is a 17th century-meets-twenty first. Where the Duchess of Palma (with whom you would possibly stay) will take you buying in her native market and teach you to whiz up the perfect Sicilian Caponata, or a lighter-than-air Almond Semifreddo (a century old family secret).
Or it might the Marchese di San Giuliano’s twelfth century compound, which was restored to splendour, by his late spouse, Fiamma Ferragamo. She was responsible for the model’s well-known pump with a grosgrain bow and, simultaneously, the planting of dreamy outlying citrus groves and ten acres of gardens. Guests get pleasure from a resident butler, two cooks and three maids all in a row. It’s a bonus that the property supplies personal your wine, olive oil, biscuits and breakfast marmalade.
If in case you have meals and a cooking faculty at the front of your mind, you can stay with the Regaleali-Tasca d’Almerita household in Sicily, the place a flock of Testa Rossa (isn’t that a Ferrari ) sheep provide milk for estate-made artisan cheeses (tuma and ricotta, pecorino); where the garden is dedicated vanishing species of cherries and quinces. Long before the start of the modern-day travel author, Homer slept right here and described the cheese making in his Odyssey.
Yet another patrician household, the Ravida’s, open up their neo-classical villa (their Ravida Additional Virgin Olive Oil is bought in Australia at Fratelli Contemporary) to meals lovers. The present technology is headed by Natalia, who opted out of a Tv presenter’s job in London, to oversee cooking lessons. Their very own brand of sea salt is scooped up from the low waters of Sicilian shores.
Bird has a benchmark of excellence and meals-focused holidays are only a blip on his radar. He distils a kind of quite sophistication, for individuals who want to show up the Pavarotti and settle into a library, or escape to a beach raked with white sands, to museums or concerts, cycling or golf. He will whistle up a masseur or drive you to scorching springs and thermal baths. He can toss in aspect trips to Tuscan hill towns, the Como lakes, the Veneto and Sicily. His black ebook of lesser-identified restaurants is unrivalled and he’ll have you ever in an Italian outlet store as quick as you possibly can shout “bellissimo.” Finally, if you can’t transfer from that library, as a trained chef, he’ll ship the perfect spaghetti vongole, in your dreamy terrace.
“I’m only a contemporary custodian, I really like sharing the Italy I know,” he says, in a charming manner. But Bird (multi-lingual, with French and Italian) knows jewel-field glamour, because he’s taken care of that for red-carpet clients in New York, LA, Paris and Rome. As of late, he much prefers sharing ferragamo laptop bags his Italy.