December 29, 2019

Holidays 2019

Italians celebrate the holidays seriously, with a combination of carefully scripted food rituals, reciprocal social visits, and ornate festivities that start at the end of November.  Our alumni association in Italy deeply respects these national traditions, while keeping an eye on the international character of our host country. To that end, we offered two events of world-class level — first, a guided tour of Rome's finest jewellers, led by designer Imara Ruffo di Calabria, and second, a charming evening of cocktails with international alumni.                                                                                                          

Imara Ruffo di Calabria   Photo Paris Bermudes

The jewellery tour met at the Pantheon and proceeded, at a brisk pace, to select jewellers who master artisanal traditions. First stop was Percossi Papi, and a vision of enamel and gold earrings crafted from precious and semi-precious stones.  Our beautiful friend, Rumiana Uzunova, graciously donned some spectacular azure earrings, to all of our delight.  Next stop was Lucia Odescalchi, one of Rome's best-known names in the area of wearable art.  And art it is, as her sculptures, many with a near African touch, attest. A mix of new materials, corals, bronze, strong shapes, combine to a personal vision which is unique to the creator, and has won Lucia accolades from all the world over.

Last stop was Fabio Salini, fornitore to the international jet set, whether movie stars or heads of state. Here too, we were able to don necklaces and bracelets, and pick up ostrich eggs turned into silver and shell table decorations. A genteel staff, carefully trained to handle each bijou, was more than kind to our small and enthusiastic entourage.

Imara Ruffo is most at ease when presenting the work of her friends, and it is only with insistence that we hear about her own creations — she is a master at creating pearl jewelry, and has an infallible eye for the potential of stones and forms to suit the female body. We raced after her brisk clip, and at a certain point, she hopped on a bus to save us all time — so quickly that our Vice-President (me) had to poke her leg out of the #64, to hold it for our group.  In fact, one member was left behind, but managed to beat us all, as Roman traffic is always best handled by walking by foot. 

We closed the evening at the home of a Venezuelan journalist friend, where confidences among women flowed freely, as did the wine.

Which brings us to the actual holidays, or close.  A few days before Christmas, a group of alumni and friends, met for some (well, pricey) cocktails at the venerable Grand Hotel Plaza, on via del Corso. But what better theater can one ask for?  And the tales told by our eclectic group — we spoke of Venice, of Mongolian visiting dignitaries, of Harvard architectural history, literature between the wars, and the price of bananas (if they are by Maurizio Cattelan) — enthused an international group composed of people, really, from Japan to Iran, from Poland to North Carolina.  Andrea di Robilant, CC '79 and SIPA '80, couldn't help but preside at the table, with his stentorian observations. We plan a 2020 event with this acclaimed Italian-American writer and luminary. 

Looking forward to a heady mix of events and conversation in 2020, we close the year with fervent best wishes for a healthy, happy, and peaceful holiday season.


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