January 29, 2012
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
Roman or Parisian? I am happily spending much time in Paris these days working on so many different projects and enjoying the most beautiful city in the world…so the chance to go to Rome this week where I am not very often is a surprise gift to me. Curious as always. I think of Paris as a city of great beauty but Rome has a magnificence that every time I am there it takes my breath. Both have rivers running through them, both have great art and culture; both are romantic. I wonder which is the most beautiful…Paris or Rome…
In Paris we are letting off the pressure of whatever we do and how our lives have taken us to here. I am playing with Azzedine and Grace over cocktail time as only old friends can do. Artists when at the cafes would have sketched this moment,
I have my I PAD.
Every great city has its premiere Café and in Paris it is here, Café Procope.
This restaurant in St. Germain des Prés has had many famous diners like Voltaire, Rousseau and the theatre of the Comedie Française as well as politicians like Napoleon. Named after the historian Procopius who wrote the scandalous
Secret Histories, the Italian Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli opened this café
in the 17th Century. I like to think that this helped its success.
Here the modular shelving system Pierre Paulin designed for François Mitterand
in the 80’s. He used to describe himself as “continuing to work for the power”.
This means that art and beauty have always contributed to support the vision
of great leaders.
While the architecture is unchanged, the Presidents of France, at least in their private apartments have enjoyed the Avant-garde. Pierre Paulin designed the private residence of Claude and Georges Pompidou in the Elysée in the 70’s. The famous pumpkin chair with its pouf was reedited in 2008. This year the other chair and pouf will be reedited. These photographs are original from the Elysée as are the photos from Paulin’s own collection.
With the stairs of Trinità dei Monti at its right, the cafe Greco is THE stop for coffee or just for the experience of being there. For 250 years this cafè founded by a Levantine person – Greco -, artists and writers have had their coffees here, Goethe, Stendhal, Leopardi, D’Annunzio…, so sitting and enjoying the atmosphere of these rooms makes me think of all the great personalities who have been here. I wonder also why it is foreigners who start the cafes? The Greek in Rome; the Italian in Paris? Curious.
I had never been to the Quirinale before, the amazing house built by
Pope Gregory VIII as his summer residence. This building has so much art, sculpture and tapestries from the Renaissance it is hard to imagine it as a summer house.
And that the Vatican was not enough for the Popes! The mansion sits on the highest hill in Rome and looks out over the city. The Hill of Quirina is one of the seven hills on which Rome was built. It is said that the gardens here have the ruins of temples to the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux. One mortal, one immortal. Just like Rome.
For six years now, the President has been hosting the Leonardo Awards for the excellence of Italy. The Leonardo Awards were created to honor people and companies whose work has helped to promote Italian products around the world.
This year Piero Antinori received the first for his wines that his family has made for
400 years. His three daughters now also work in the business and I think this is worthy of mentioning. President Giorgio Napolitano hosted a light lunch and all of us were happy to meet a great man working so hard for Italy.