La Dolce Vita (1960)

Tabloid journalist Marcello passes through the symbolic worlds of his three love interests in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960).

The heiress Maddalena (played by Anouk Aimée) is tired of Rome. When she’s not at home lounging on her patio chaise, she can be found in the company of aristocrats who, like her, have experienced everything Rome has to offer. The castle: ball gowns, elegant evening capes, silk, diamonds, tiaras, shiny new cars, sunglasses for sake of mystery.

On her visit to the Eternal City, Italian men vie for the attention of Swedish American actress Sylvia (played by Anita Ekberg). She is charming, flirtatious, and skilled at making sure people have fun at parties. Her abusive fiancé Robert often interrupts her nonstop parade with unkind words and an abusive hand. The limelight: airplanes, cameras, flashing bulbs, music, eyeliner, fountain water.

Emma (played by Yvonne Furneaux) is Marcello’s emotionally fragile girlfriend. Her identity is intertwined with his existence; she loves him more than she loves herself. Emma dreams of married life and children with her boyfriend, but the feeling isn’t mutual. She often waits up for him at night, but when she’s kept waiting too long, her mind travels to a dark place. Purgatory: shadows on the walls of a still apartment, newspapers, telephone, remote dirt road, hospital bed, bed head, basic black dress.

Works Sighted

sequin curtain // sunglasses // tiara // umbrella

silk scarf // dress with sheer sleeves // gown // pearl earrings // scoop-neck dress // mosquito net // olive tree

balloons // Valpolicella // heels // heels // heels // bow tie

ash tray // phone // camera // candles // tape recorder // candelabra

Caffè Lattes at Home

My friend treated me to a decaf iced latte with almond milk on an impromptu visit to Paris Baguette. Minimal caffeine and zero sweetener for me. As I admired the marbly collision of liquids through the clear cup, I wished that the drink would stay full. A never-ending cup of coffee—more Alice in Wonderland than real life. After I finished my iced latte, it stayed on my mind for days after. I bought another latte four days later, this time from Bluestone Lane, non-iced, decaf because I don’t tolerate caffeine, still no sweetener (not needed in my opinion). When the cup became empty, I began to look forward to my next one. I interpreted this as a sign that I should learn to make lattes at home. My new supplies should arrive any day now.

Works Sighted

How to Make the Best Coffee at Home (2022) // milk frother/steamer // table dustpan // glass cup // Lavazza decaf expresso bean // ice cube trays // 50 Italian Coffee Breaks (2022)

barista glass // coffee grinder // The World Atlas of Coffee (2018) // 50 French Coffee Breaks (2022) // caffe latte candles // glass mug

Simple Mills chocolate chip cookies // stainless steel straws // espresso maker // coffee canister // caffè latte & biscotti sweatshirt // engraved coffee scoop // The Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee (2019)

Further Reading

How to Make a Latte” (A Couple Cooks)

How to be Italian: Eat, Drink, Dress, Travel and Love La Dolce Vita (2021) by Maria Pasquale

I’d say I’m more familiar with Italian culture than the average non-Italian American. I know that you won’t find Italian food at Olive Garden, San Marzano tomatoes come from Campania, my beloved arrancini is Sicilian, ciao means hello and goodbye, and, after the dough, there are exactly four toppings on a pizza Margherita.

My grandfather spoke fluent Italian and socialized in South Philadelphia circles. Unfortunately, that tradition wasn’t passed through the family. I was asked by a hostess at Gran Caffe L’Aquila how I arrived at the decision to read How to be Italian by Maria Pasquale. I’d taken the book to the restaurant to photograph it. I said that I was interested in Italian culture, but in reality, my purpose was stronger than that. Becoming acquainted with Italy makes me feel like I am reclaiming a part of my heritage.

How to be Italian: Eat, Drink, Dress, Travel and Love La Dolce Vita (2021). I knew that much of the information contained in the book wouldn’t be new news. August vacation is untouchable; it’s the same for the French. Italians express their feelings with hand gestures, value their family ties, and are superstitious. My aunt lived in Italy when I was young and told stories about how her doctor gave advice rooted in superstition rather than science. The Italian brand Superga is one of my favorites. As is Valentino. I’ve been to Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Although Pasquale’s book isn’t large like the ones commonly found on coffee tables, I believe it belongs there. The book is divided into nine chapters and is easy to read. The vibrant photographs, insightful quotes, and beautiful graphics drew me in. I found some elements surprising: the two playlists (one called “classic,” the other, “party”) and the glossary organized into eight categories: food, drinks, speech, community, holidays, life, ideas, places.

passeggiata – an afternoon stroll, usually with no destination, (210).
sprezzatura – the effortless elegance and nonchalance with which Italians carry themselves, (211).
Ciao bella!’ – ‘Hello beautiful!’ (208)

I made a Spotify playlist of Maria’s favorite Italian songs. Andrea Becelli’s “Con te partirò,” also one of my favorites, made the cut. I’m in an Italian mood. Fresh Severino linguine and all.

The Search for the Perfect Trench

As I pulled my trench coat from the closet (the first time since winter), I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend about finding the perfect one. As is generally the case with clothing these days, the search for a trench coat requires work. This means ordering viable options online and returning what doesn’t suit. It is important to remember to mail your returns back to the retailer(s) from whence they came. The process is even more convenient if the brand(s) accept returns at a nearby brick-and-mortar store. I find it especially efficient to make all my returns in one day. You may find your perfect trench on the first attempt, but if you don’t, you will eventually. What matters most is that you do not compromise on size, fit, or color. If you have time, expand your search to thrift stores and flea markets, especially when in Europe. When you visit Paris, I recommend thrifting with Mariana. Bon courage ! These things can take time.

Works Sighted

Banana Republic Factory classic twill trench (sanded khaki) // J.Crew new icon trench (vintage khaki) // A.P.C. greta trench coat (beige) // Hobbs trench (navy)

J.Crew Factory trench (light khaki) // Lauren Ralph Lauren cotton blend trench (sand) // Barbour trench (light fawn) // Mango classic trench (medium brown)

Mango classic trench (dark navy) // H&M short trench (light beige) // London Fog (British khaki) // Everlane modern trench (beech)

Roman Holiday (1953): Princess Off Duty

Princess Ann (played by Audrey Hepburn) travels to Rome on a goodwill tour in Roman Holiday (1953). Her life is governed by tradition, responsibility, and an itinerary full of engagements related to her duty as a royal. Ann’s schedule doesn’t allow for activities that aren’t related to the official tour. But, for 24 hours, the princess makes time for the things she’s always wanted to do. She doesn’t ask for permission. With American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) by her side, she experiences the Eternal City and a love that is equally enduring.

Works Sighted

1. chandelier 2. nap dress 3. slippers 4. tiara 5. dress 6. heels

7. gelato 8. shirt 9. skirt and belt 10. sandals 11. Italian lire

12. fairy lights 13. pajamas 14. epaulettes 15. camera

16. scarf 17. comb 18. postcards 19. tray 20. Vespa

21. Champagne 22. phone 23. guitar

The Classic Editrix on Etsy

I spent Labor Day weekend launching The Classic Editrix Etsy shop. It features minimalist T-shirts and totes inspired by France, Italy, England, the US, and academia. True to my style philosophy, I designed everything in a neutral color palette. I’ve worn the “en français s’il vous plaît” T to the pool, to class, and to work; it’s highly versatile and a vision, especially when styled with a knot and rolled-up sleeves.

Works Sighted

“en français s’il vous plaît” T-shirt // Sunbody Hats fedora // Summersalt sidestroke