Let’s imagine a journey: we are traveling across Italy driving the Mercedes Cabriolet 300 Sel, as seen in La congiuntura, Ettore Scola’s debut movie. At the wheel is Vittorio Gassman with his winning smile, in a fancy sandy-colored suit: the epitome of the sophisticated “Italian spirit”.
The journey takes place in 1963. Gassman plays Giuliano Niccolini-Borgia, a glamorous prince from a noble Roman family. In the passenger seat is a young American actress ― Joan Collins ― who travels with him from Rome to Lugano. This is a chic portrait of an Italian youth who loves classy travel, fancy clothes, and luxurious cars ― with a touch of irresistible humor.
“Be sure to be careful, son. Do not exceed 180 km/h! ― said Gassman while talking to himself while passing on the highway.”
A celebration of life ― carpe diem ― but especially a celebration of Italy and its elegance, even during a vacation, far from work and routine.
For a good journey, whether it be a pleasant weekend such as in ‘La congiuntura’, a mountain hike, or even a business trip, you should know how to choose what to bring with you. And, above all, where to stash everything.
“Personally, for a short trip, I find traveling with a duffle bag more practical, comfortable, and elegant ― even better if it’s a handmade dark leather one.”
As a good alternative to a duffel, I recommend a messenger bag with compartments, in a classic color, as a more tech-friendly choice. Either a hand-held style or a satchel are good options.
As far as a compromise between a duffle bag and a suitcase, the only solution is a briefcase ― either leather or canvas.
Also it’s important to choose a classic style: dark colors only (black, navy blue, dark brown), and avoiding big flashy logos, excessive pockets, and excessive embellishment.
“Rarely is embellishment a nice addition to a bag ― actually, most of the time, it detracts from the look.”
For long journeys, I cannot resist a timeless trunk, the kind you can only carry by hand ― the ones that, unfortunately, you rarely see in use anymore.
You might think that a wheeled suitcase is obviously more practical, and to be sure, sometimes I think so too. But can you imagine, for example, the charming Dirk Bogarde in Morte a Venezia lugging around a wheeled suitcase?
The most example of this sort of luggage is, in my opinion, the wonderful beige-lined suitcase with hammered leather carried by Gassman in Dino Risi’s Profumo di Donna.
In the film, the protagonist, a former captain of the Italian Army, is blinded after an accidental explosion. He then travels from Torino to Napoli, accompanied by a young recruit that he teaches how to enjoy life.
“What do you think? ― said the protagonist during a train ride ― That I’m suffering because I cannot see a sunset? Sex, thighs ― that’s the only religion, political idea, true country, of a man.”
So, if you travel with fancy suitcases such as Dirk Bogarde’s ones, with Vittorio De Sica’s light-brown leather briefcase (like in Il Generale Della Rovere), or with well-worn duffle bags and money under the carriage like in Marrakech Express, please make sure you always bring with you, as a distinctive mark, your unique Italian style. Even and especially, on a trip.