A unique land, still undiscovered. Let’s explore it with Stefano Ricci
In the beginning it was the tie. There is not a single head of state, prince, manager or sports champion on the planet who has not had a personal collection of the symbol of men’s elegance par excellence. A pioneer of beauty in fashion, Stefano Ricci has always defied the rules of fashion, both the too ordinary and the too out-of-the-ordinary ones. A man of the world who travels the world but with a special place in his heart for Florence, an artist, merchant, patron of the arts, a prince of men’s style by using precious fabrics and skins, diamonds, the finest and rarest silks. A passionate vintage British car collector (although he always takes part in the Mille Miglia race driving a 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20 car), Stefano Ricci fell in love with the Mugello countryside at the age of twenty, while whizzing through its winding roads and up its steep ascents.
And then, about ten years ago, it was love at first sight with an estate in the Firenzuola area, Poggio ai Segugi. He then set upon the task of renovating the property himself and personally designing the interiors: “I decided to use only locally-sourced materials, such as pietra serena (gray sandstone), driven by the conviction that the traditional craft of stonemasonry, a dying art, needs to be rediscovered. I ended up with a group of eight, extraordinary stone masons, both old masters and young apprentices”. After five years of renovation works, in order to save the craft from being lost for good, Ricci decided to renovate the interiors of all his shops across Italy and the world by using pietra serena, thus keeping the team of stone masons operative and an age-old tradition alive.
“I have also converted some of the estate’s land to pasture to breed organically-fed cows- the Florentine designer says- it started out as a personal pleasure when my family presented me with a few cows, but then I bought a bull and the number has increased (he laughs)”. You know what the Mugello’s true spirit is? “Farming and farming again, which would need some help and less bureaucratic hurdles. Mugello chestnuts are the best, but nobody knows it. And the Mugello Circuit is truly amazing… In the days preceding the Motorcycle Grand Prix, with campers and motorcycles flocking in from all over Europe, we see all sorts here. The Circuit is spectacularly kept. I believe that this first Formula One Grand Prix is a recognition for the extraordinarily professional work done by Paolo Poli (the director of Scarperia’s circuit, editor’s note) over the years. He belongs to the Ferrari Group, which is a guarantee of all-Italian excellence at a time of foreign takeovers”.
The Stefano Ricci factory at Caldine, near Fiesole, is located along the road that leads from Florence to Mugello, where the entrepreneur and designer has all his handmade work done: “men’s jewelry, the home collection’s silver chiseling, leather goods, the clothing and shirt factory”. 80% of the production - perhaps even more - is made in Tuscany - the 20% is made in Italy, but under the Fiesole factory’s accurate supervision. In the Mugello area, Stefano Ricci has also started a workshop devoted to the creation of handmade leather goods.
“From the window of my studio, at the Poggio ai Segugi estate, where I spend most of my time now, every morning I watch the sun rising over the mountains surrounding Firenzuola. This moment has become an integral part of my life, it is relaxing and inspiring, although right now I rely more on my experience than on creativity to do my job. My children, Niccolò and Filippo, and the young people working with me, are the ones in charge of creativity. Young people’s mind is ebullient, I’m very pleased with the team I brought up. And now I’m the quality controller”. Before saying goodbye, we ask him what, in his opinion, is the Mugello’s most scenic road: “The Futa road, which starts in Montecarelli, runs along the Panna Estate - one of the Medici family’s game reserves - and continues as far as the Emilia Romagna region in the direction of Bologna. The view has never changed in over sixty years’ time: if you’re driving a vintage car, you’ll see the same scenery that laid before the first owner of the car, when it was brand new”.