There is something about Tuscany, an allure much like a magnet, pulling one home. When you spend time in Tuscany, you live in beauty, and it changes you. The exhilarating landscape of terraced olive groves and cypress-lined lanes, the vivacity of the people, the food, the art, the history, la bella vita—all of this adds up to a humanistic culture that is good for the soul.
So goes the opening to the story I have written this issue on the bucolic home away from home that is Borgo Santo Pietro in the Tuscan countryside. Italy is a special place—so much so that the country is a de facto bucket list destination for just about everyone. Jeanette and Claus Thottrup, the Danish owners of Borgo Santo Pietro, have called Italy home for the last 20 years, and as Claus says, “it has something that I don’t think I could or would find anywhere else.”
Much has been written about Italy, but it seems writing is never enough. And as COVID restrictions ease and international borders open up, the cartographic boot will resume its position as one of the top five most visited countries in the world. But the fascination with Italy goes beyond the country as a travel destination. In this autumn edition, issue 90, we get behind the wheel of the 630-horsepower Maserati supercar, the MC20, for a first drive; shed light on style-find Micoli, an independent handbag line made in Florence; spend some time with the Busatti family in Anghiari, where the finest Italian textiles have been woven at Palazzo Morgalanti since 1842; and set foot in the world’s oldest pharmacy, Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, whose history dates back to the 13th century when it was a monastic laboratory and Dominican friars began concocting herbal remedies in the convent’s infirmary in the time of Giotto and Dante.
Dressing up is back in style, and cover talent Hayley Law is sporting all the right looks for the season. The Vancouver-born actress and musician speaks with fellow editor Ayesha Habib about the vulnerability of comedy, her affinity for indie films, and her future plans following the success of her breakout role on Riverdale. “It’s constant work to be proud and not be let down when things don’t go as planned,” she says. Fellow Vancouverite Joon Lee dressed the part for “The Insatiable Urge to Create”, and as David Stol writes of the artist, “Whether he is expressing himself on a six-foot canvas or commenting on the world around him through a myriad of viral collages shared on his Instagram feed [@kdotclee], Lee’s ability to breathe life into minimalist expressions of form and colour illustrates the intimate relationship between himself and his work.”
The Canadian voices we celebrate this issue are a diverse group. In “Space Commander”, Laura May Todd speaks with Montreal-based architectural and interior designer Zébulon Perron, and for “Collecting Intimacies”, Ben Dreith chats with Winnipeg-based multidisciplinary designer Thom Fougere. In “Where Do We Go From Here?”, curator Nya Lewis considers the role of the art institution in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests, and for “The Many Identities of Brendan Fernandes”, Ayesha Habib dialogues with Kenyan-born Canadian-Indian Fernandes from Chicago where the artist is now based: “My work is about finding solidarity,” he says. “It’s about dismantling power dynamics, breaking down hegemony and Western capitalistic spaces. And within that, I’m trying to find ways that we can think about community.”
Visiting Florence? I’ll meet you for a bite in Piazza della Signoria—I’ll guarantee a great panino, good wine, and engaging conversation, but not an empty loggia in which to perch.
Keep an eye on our website over the coming weeks for new stories from Issue 90 and click here to purchase the issue.