Trvlbees

Margherita Missoni on her Beloved Italy

At TRVLBEES, we have always been very fond of Italy. It’s a destination that simply has every ingredient necessary for a perfect family getaway. Culture, food, history, vibrant cities, and fascinating medieval villages. Not to mention the countless lakes, beaches, and superb fashion, as well as the fact that it’s an incredibly family-friendly place. That explains our rather extensive file on Italy! We wanted to take an even closer look at this fabulous country through the eyes of a true native, which is why we asked one of Italy’s proudest ambassadors to let us in on all her secrets, and show us some hidden gems off the beaten track. Introducing: the wonderful Margherita Missoni.

Margherita Missoni

Please tell us something about your life journey so far- were you born and raised in Italy? Have you lived abroad as well? And if so, what made you return to Italy? 

“Yes, I was born and raised in Italy, in Varese, as you may know, till I was 20, then I moved to New York.”

Varese

“When I first moved to New York, I had a really hard time. I was at Columbia University after transferring from the University of Milan and I was there to study philosophy even though I really wanted to be an actor. It was one of those very cold New York winters, I think the year was 2003. Even though I really wanted to be in New York, I was only doing university to please my grandmother. I was a really good student in high school and my teachers thought it would be a waste to pursue acting, which is where my heart was. One day, my mom called and asked why I hadn’t asked her to send me any clothes. To her, it was really symptomatic of my state of mind.

I look back on that time period now and I think I just wanted to understand who I was outside of my family. I grew up in the countryside, and the company [Missoni] workplace was next to our house. We’re an entangled bunch of people. I always felt like a branch on a tree, not like my own person, and going to Milan and New York symbolized breaking away.”

Margherita Missoni & her family

“I decided to study philosophy because I guess I felt it was the closest thing to acting: thinking about life and its meaning and why I’m here and what I’m doing. But I was so unhappy—here I was in the place where I wanted to be (I had been dying for city lights after growing up in the countryside) but I didn’t want to be there. I’m much lighter now on life and choices, but when I was younger it felt as if every single choice I made would have long-term consequences on my life and the smallest wrong decision could fuck everything up and there would be no way to fix it. 

I studied philosophy, went on to study acting and then left for Paris to act. Afterwards I moved to Rome for a play and while there, it hit me: Fashion is what comes out most naturally and spontaneously for me. That’s what I want to do. It’s always what I wanted. I just had to get there myself.

When I think about it now, I’m really happy that I went through all those bits before starting my own family. I have two sons now with my husband.”

You are a very outspoken ambassador of your country, and never fail to mention your place of residence: Varese. Were you raised to be a proud citizen? What is it that makes both Italy and Varese so special to you?

“My mum moved here from Gallarate when she was 13. At the end of the sixties my grandparents decided to build their own factory in a place where they loved to spend their weekends. First they built the factory, and then in 1972 they moved into the house, at a walking distance to the factory. We all have this addiction to the view of the Monte Rosa that we can see from the factory, from the office at the HQ, from my grandparents’ house, from my previous house where I was raised; and both me and my sister Teresa, have the same view from our houses.”

Varese Lake

“When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out. It was only when I was living in the biggest city of them all, New York, that I realized how lucky I was to have these roots and such a deep sense of belonging. When I got pregnant, we didn’t even question where we were going to settle our family—it was going to be back in #VareseThePlaceToBe.”

What are your favorite places in and around Varese to unwind and recharge with your family? Any special places we can’t miss while visiting the region?

“I like small museums off the beaten track. Villa e Collezione Panza is a real gem. Count Panza was the first collector of conceptual art in the world.”

Villa e Collezione Panza

“The permanent collection is incredible: site-specific Dan Flavin works that are even better than what’s in Marfa, Texas. It’s a very special place. I love seeing art contextualised in real places, not just against white walls. The sense of colour that Count Panza had is the only one I ever envied. 

There is another special museum in Varese, Museo Baroffio, which also used to be a collection. It’s a very special place to me. Museo MAGa in Gallarate is bigger but it’s also a must visit, on the top floor it also houses a permanent collection of Arazzis by my late grandfather Ottavio Missoni.”

Santa Caterina del Sasso

“Santa Caterina del Sasso is a must visit monastry on lake Maggiore, as is Isola Bella on lake Maggiore; Villa Taranto, with its exotic and magical gardens on lake Maggiore should be on your list, too, just like Villa della porta Bozzolo- a must see villa and garden towards Piemonte.”

Which locations/areas/properties (hotels and villas) should be on our wish list – both in your region and other areas of Italy?

“Sometimes decadence feels right, like at this old, family-run hotel. Nothing’s too square or too perfect, and our balcony jutted out over the sea, so you felt as if you could jump straight off.”

Hotel Santa Caterina

“This is one of those magical places where time stops and you feel as if you’re stepping into history. It’s classic without being pompous, ethnic but not overly so. I’m such a regular they named a vodka cocktail after me – the Angurita.”

Il Pellicano, Tuscany

“This is the best hotel in the world, hands down. I love the old-fashioned feel of it: the piano playing during aperitivo, the waiters who have been there forever, and the dock where you can leave your little boat; it was always full of beautiful old Rivas.”

Villa d’Este, Lake Como, Italy

TRVLBEES focuses on family-friendly, boutique-style, and conscious hideaways – so let’s talk.

Family-friendly: When planning your own family holiday, do you specifically focus on this feature? How and why? 

“I firstly pick some countries or areas that we want to discover, then evaluate the winner depending on how challenging the traveling bits will be and then pick the best place in the area to accomodate our needs, such as: proximity to beach or slopes, fun activities for my boys (snorkeling, skiing, riding).”

Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore

Boutique: Does this category appeal to you? 

“With kids I prefer bigger  places where we have a higher chance to meet other children.”

Consciousness: Is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

 “Yes, it is, but still comes after the kids’ needs.”

Margherita Missoni

Now that we are talking consciousness: you recently made headlines by launching a new capsule collection for Missoni, entirely created using upcycled Missoni fabrics from the archives. How did you come up with this idea? 

Is sustainability something that plays a significant role within your company and family?  Do you think that this will be(come) a trend in the coming years – in your company but also nationwide?

“When I was asked to reinvent and give new purpose to the M Missoni collection, I decided that this brand would be about giving new life to the disregarded parts of Missoni’s history – whether it be re-interpreting the prints that never quite became iconic, giving new context to designs born from the 80’s licensing craze and since cast aside as cheesy, or using the stocks of yarns and textiles that filled our warehouses. I wanted to dust off the overlooked B-side of the Missoni legacy – twist it upside-down, inside-out and layer it with new perspective.”

M Missoni’s mission is to remix, re-use, and respect – both literally and conceptually: we pride ourselves with being playfully derivative and authoritatively appropriative.   We are constantly experimenting with bits and pieces that are recycled, repurposed, and upcycled – scarves turn into dresses, leftover yarns into sweaters, and upholstery fabrics from the Missoni Home collection into a capsule outerwear collection. 

Three seasons in, I’m proud to say we’ve re-purposed 26 thousand meters of Missoni stock fabric and 12 hundred kilos of stock yarn.  In this sense, sustainability is part of our aesthetic – that said, it would have been utterly inconceivable to create a new brand without taking sustainability and social responsibility into consideration.  This is why we prefer eco-sustainable materials even when not recycled and we choose to geographically dislocate some of our production in order to create jobs in other countries such as Ethiopia, Peru and Ghana.

M Missoni is not yet a fully sustainable brand although we constantly strive to improve and move forward in that direction.  I like to think that we are a brand of the 2020’s in touch with our times and needs – and as such sustainability must be a priority.  The good news is that fashion is all about the zeitgeist and soon what’s non-sustainable will be out of fashion and will no longer have a reason to exist.”

Do you still have a (family) bucket list in terms of travel or experiences? What would be your top 3 of favorite destinations within Italy? 

“Bomarzo, Cavallino Bianco and Capalbio.”

Bomarzo, a small town in northern Lazio in Italy, famous for its park of stone monsters.
Cavallino Bianco in the heart of the Dolomites
The beautiful beaches around Capalbio

What do you want to teach and show your kids during travels and in life? 

“Getting exposed to different possibilities opens up to free choices.”

Want more Italian inspiration? Take a look at our Italy Destination page!

As we are fully aware of the COVID-19 situation, we will not actively promote traveling at this moment. However, being an international travel platform, we will continue to do what we do best: inspiring you with stories about and images of beautiful destinations worldwide.

Please remember to travel and act responsibly. Stay home when possible, or consult your authorities for up-to-date information and travel advice.