Bella Italia! A bucket list destination if ever there was one. As we learn in the blog today from our very own creative director Laura Liles, it’s a helplessly beautiful country of variety, nuance and immaculate style. Laura designed the current KC Collection Sophie, in Italy, and naturally we’ve got to know more.
So, basically, your experiences travelling through Italy are to thank for the KC Sophie collection. At what point in your journey did you take in the most inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere! But with this trip it didn't come to me in any obvious ways. It wasn't like I was looking at a field and making a floral print or anything like that. It was more like a mood or a feeling that opened up a creative flow. Watching locals and their morning routine. Lots of time swimming and thinking.
Early mornings with my kids outside in nature. I guess that inspired clothes for a way of life. Fluid, happy and bright.
What places in Italy, do you think, would make lovers of art and design feel most hyped up?
For Italy rookies? Florence for sure. Especially if you have kids, it's easy to get around and see the most beautiful things. The city is gorgeous, with no cars, old buildings and lots of history and art. The country is so close, it's a beautiful and abundant place that produces the most delicious food and I think the Florentine locals are the best dressed Italians.
My heart home however is in the Italian riviera, from run down resort towns like Rapallo to busy Cinque Terre hamlets like Monterosso. The scenery is iconic, striped umbrellas and terraced olive groves. I'm on a campaign to set up a studio there.
Are the coastal village exteriors in Italy really as peachy pink as in the pictures? Is the Italian seaside palette really like that?
They are a beautiful mix of sunny yellow and peachy pink all perfectly sun faded. A lot of the pictures on Pinterest and IG are filtered with high saturation. Which I think looks kinda cheesy. The faded crumbly walls of coastal villas are most beautiful when captured in their wabi sabi truth.
As a place of ancient, interconnected cities, it seems - like its Mediterranean neighbours - Italy really offers everything. Nature walks, city stays, a jaw dropping coast, ski climates. Would you say, then, that packing is a straightforward operation?
Well no, lol, not if you want to do all the things!
but I tend to recommend picking one region and packing for that. Recently a friend asked for some advice. She was going from the top of the boot to the bottom and I suggested she consider spending her time just in just one region. Rome for example has so much close by and so much to do. Same with Florence, there's the city and its restaurants and art, then the coast which is also beautiful.
Also ... shopping in Italy is pretty epic, maybe just go with empty bags?
Is there a particular must-pack for Italy that we might overlook?
Not really! I don't think you need much at all to enjoy bella italia. There's a misconception that it's super expensive and of course if you eat fancy every meal you're going to rack up a bill but I recommend, especially if you're staying somewhere coastal to look up where the free beeches are (no umbrellas) this is where the locals will be. Visit the local markets in the morning, buy whatever fruit is in season, a few slices of focaccia and camp out on the pebbles for the day. It will hardly cost you a thing. Lazing amongst the Nonna's of Liguria like you're a local.
Oh, you have to give us some untold secrets about the eating that’s to be done on an Italian tour. Where do you get the best focaccia?
Oh my gosh, I'm going to tell you my most favorite spot with my most favorite food of all time for eternity.
It's a focacceria in Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, order the Focaccia di Recco. Don't ask, just do.
I strongly recommend searching out the local enoteca (wine shop) Salumeria (deli) or alimentare (food specialty shop). you're bound to find some local treasure and usually its wrapped and packed for you into the most lovely package.
If podcasts like the Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine are anything to go by, Italian food is so much more than the classics - it’s full of surprises. Fact check!...
Indeed! We enjoyed so many good meals on our last trip. Memorable surprises include 10 euro buckets of muscles from a local beech kiosk, regional craft beer and bar snacks, a raw fish platter that included local purple prawns (Scary on paper, delicious in real life). There are a ton of culinary surprises to be had but in saying that the classics are classics for a reason.
I suggest a little research on what the locals love.
What was a highlight of your stay that was best enjoyed by your family?
Fishing in the Adriatic was a time! Our family of four includes my husband & KC co director Tristan and our two kids 4 and 9. On a whim we rented a small Gozzo boat for a day on the water.
A Gozzo is one of those little wooden boats with the sun baking beds at the front.
We caught a stingray using a kids fishing line from a local toy shop and Fonzies (Italian Twisties) as our bait.
What’s your dream next holiday?
We're off to Bali next week to visit some local suppliers, sketch up the next collection and get some of that sweet vitamin D.
Follow along at https://www.instagram.com/laura_liles_/?hl=en or https://www.instagram.com/kinga_csilla/?hl=en For our design and development journey and other cute Bali things.