Life is punctuated by moments and themes that repeat themselves, by situations that reappear periodically because they are part of who we are, of our essence, of our being.
Giorgia and Stefano Barbini are a couple with a mission: to be ambassadors of Italian style. Meeting them in one of their three exclusive lodges gives the impression that hospitality has always been their occupation. But appearances are often deceiving.
The Barbinis come from the world of fashion. From haute couture to be precise. They were major players, too. In addition to being the granddaughter of Gaetano Savini, the founder of the well-known Brioni fashion label for men, Giorgia Perrone was also the owner of the Escada flagship store in Rome and the managing retail director of Escada Italia. Her husband, Stefano Barbini, was Escada’s CEO in Italy and France as well as the executive head of marketing for international brands such as Alberta Ferretti, Moschino, Jean Paul Gaultier and Ozbek. Theirs are names that stand out even among luminaries on the international fashion scene, a sector that demands strict discipline, unmitigated commitment and the strength to live one’s life on the road.
At a certain point, the Barbinis decided to change their lives. It took courage and determination to leave a wearying world where everything revolves around results and performance. A glittering world that was utterly incompatible with family life. Giorgia and Stefano made this bold decision together; they took this radical step in unison.
One day, during a trip to Val Pusteria, they happened to come across a historic sixteenth-century residence situated at 1,200 meters above sea level. It was love at first sight. Not a trace of doubt. The Barbinis decided in that instant to turn their backs once and for all on the world of fashion and the chaos of urban life: they moved to San Lorenzo di Sebato, a village in the mountains of South Tyrol, together with their three children.
Enthusiastic about their new lives, far removed from the agitation and pace of a metropolis, they enrolled their children in the village school and put all of their creative energy into renovating the former hunting lodge. Galvanized and totally absorbed by the design of their new “baby” they decide not only to restore the residence to its ancient splendor, but also to transform it into an exclusive lodge for discerning guests.
From the outset, the couple planned every step of the restoration together with the office for the protection of architectural heritage. They placed their trust in the best local artisans to give new life to the ruin, which was originally built by the Bishop of Bressanone. The ultimate goal was to create a luxury retreat with high-quality standards while conserving the pre-existing structure to the extent possible. The result is nothing short of amazing: the two aesthetes have created in San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge a veritable masterpiece, a perfect symbiosis between history and modern functionality, a new way of living immersed in nature while sacrificing neither exclusivity nor creature comforts.
Now the Barbinis were on fire. Driven by passion, reinvigorated, and imbued with the style and elegance that form part of their inherent nature, the Barbinis discovered their mission in life: to offer discerning guests the opportunity to come into direct contact with nature, bringing them closer to beautiful things through fine cuisine, culture and the extraordinary beauty of the place.
Giorgia and Stefano personally look after guests who arrive at the lodge, whether for a hit-and-run vacation or a longer break. Georgia’s extraordinary cuisine, Stefano’s stories and unique excursions, the lodge’s setting nestled amongst verdant woods, 360° service and total privacy: it was the synthesis of these elements that gave rise to an extraordinary and unexpected success story. And as the lodge itself was born, so were two outstanding hosts.
Leaving their former lives was like being reborn for the Barbinis. This rebirth was made possible not only as the result of Giorgia and Stefano’s maturation in their work lives, but also because they knew how to reinterpret and reinvent.
Luxury is not measured in quantity; luxury is synonymous with authenticity, with the intensity of our experiences.
Convinced that something else lies beneath the veneer of splendor, Giorgia and Stefano soon began looking for a new way to introduce travelers to the beautiful side of Italy, to the authentic face of the Bel Paese. Their intuition came in a flash of genius that made everything clear in an instant: their second lodge would be called San Lorenzo Sea Lodge and would be on the sea.
San Lorenzo Sea Lodge is a luxury catamaran designed and built in Gdansk according to precise guidelines set forth by the Barbinis. It represents the meeting point between the mountain and the sea, a symbiosis for which Giorgia could not have found better names: White Deer for the mountain lodge and Blue Deer for the boat.
Since 2015, the Blue Deer San Lorenzo Sea Lodge has carried its passengers in exploration of the hidden marinas, bays and romantic inlets that dot the coasts of the Italian peninsula. Contrary to expectation, there are still places along the boot of Italy that have been spared by mass tourism, and that offer stunning nature, fascinating culture and authentic cuisine.
From the beginning, it was of the utmost importance to Giorgia and Stefano that they offer the guest not only an exclusive retreat, but also a home away from home, a temporary refuge with the authentic flavor of Italy. While Giorgia is the queen of the kitchen at San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge and famous for her cuisine based on carefully sourced local products, a Sicilian chef equally passionate about his work has been hired for the sailing catamaran. So authentic Italian cuisine is also served at sea: based on freshly caught fish, sun-ripened tomatoes and much more, absolutely everything is handmade. This amalgam of gustative, visual and olfactory pleasures is unforgettable.
This is one other thing about which Giorgia and Stefano agree wholeheartedly: a true chef can be recognized by a simple plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce. And perhaps that is the true essence of their vision.
Driven by and destined for excellence, wherever they are, the Barbinis are in constant pursuit of the best products and the top artisans. They never tire of this painstaking search, however, because they are firmly convinced of the uniqueness of Italian style and of the expert craftsmanship of small-scale enterprises. Olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, blown glass or handmade textiles: these are the types of riches they want to share with their international clientele.
And then came Rome. The Eternal City, where Barbini hearts beat faster and stronger. And they’ve found their flagship in the heart of this extraordinary city.
A small balcony can be seen on the first floor of Palazzo Pamphili, along the façade of the Church of Sant’ Agnese in Agone. It directly overlooks Piazza Navona, known internationally for its Baroque fountain by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This was the residence of Pope Innocent X; it was the hideaway where the pontiff held secret trysts with his sister-in-law, Gabrielle Olimpia Pamphili.
It is inside these storied walls that Giorgia and Stefano have created their third, spectacular lodge: Holy Deer San Lorenzo City Lodge. This 350-square-meter luxury apartment not only boasts a world-class setting but also a level of craftsmanship that transports the visitor into a world of wonders. If the mountain lodge and catamaran stand out for their authenticity, the Holy Deer sets itself apart for its spectacular and refined style. Crossing its threshold is like stepping into the very essence of Baroque, in the truest sense of the word.