T SERIES: Friends Who Recharge Together

In an unusual season, a director and some of his closest collaborators came together on the Sicilian coast.

Article by Noor Brara

From left: Luca Guadagnino, filmmaker, 49; Alessio Bolzoni photographer, 41; Giuppy D’Aura, writer and fashion history lecturer, 36; Fernanda Pérez, makeup artist, 51; and Frida Ruggieri, student, 13. Photographed at the Quintocanto Hotel & Spa in Palermo, Italy, on Aug. 28, 2020. Photography by Alex Majoli.

Luca Guadagnino

I spent the entirety of the first lockdown from March onward with my pal the photographer Alessio Bolzoni, whom I also work with on my films, and then in June, after restrictions in Italy started to ease, I was asked to do a campaign for Ferragamo in Milan. I called my very dear friend Fernanda Pérez — a makeup artist whom I’ve worked with since my first film, “The Protagonists” (1999) — to see if she wanted to join Alessio and me for the project. I live there, and she lives in Buenos Aires. She flew in with her now-13-year-old daughter, Frida, whom I’ve known since she was a baby; I held her in my lap when we were filming “I Am Love” (2009). By the time we finished shooting it was July, but we weren’t much interested in the idea of a summer holiday. We just wanted to find a place where we could gather and be calm. Our last friend, Giuppy, joined us after we wrapped, and we all set off for the Alcamo coast in Sicily to stay in the country home of the New York-based artist Francesco Simeti and his sister, Natalia, children of the great author Mary Taylor Simeti, who writes about food, travel and ethnography. We stayed there for two weeks before going on to Palermo for a few days. The house was empty for the season, so it was just the five of us, friends for over 20 years and certainly by now a kind of family, with our reliable rhythms.

“It was just the five of us, friends for over 20 years and certainly by now a kind of family, with our reliable rhythms,” says Guadagnino (second from left) with, from left, Pérez, D’Aura, Ruggieri and Bolzoni. Photography by Alex Majoli.

Our Alcamo routine was quite simple: We’d wake up fairly early, get ready and go down to the wilder, more secluded parts of the beach, among the rough sand and rock. We’d spend the afternoon in the shade of a beautiful tree on the house grounds, reading and talking. There was a lot of cooking, too, which is one of my favourite ways to pass the time. Our summer was, on the whole, quite modest and absolutely banal, but I think modesty and banality are good when you are facing such unprecedented and difficult times. And it’s all bearable when you are part of a group like this one. These are people with whom I can be silent comfortably for long periods of time, people I have the urgency to be with and those I feel I’m with every moment of my life, even if we aren’t physically together. And in this sobering, melancholic year, it was a balm to be by their sides.

Frida Ruggieri

It was great to see Luca and the other guys — they’re like uncles to me, or even parents, depending on the day. They gang up on me about boys I like. I’d never been to Sicily before, and it felt crazy to go to a beach after having quarantined since March. I was like, “Wow! I’m really here, aren’t I?” We ate a lot of Luca’s barbecue and stayed up late into the night, just talking and talking about what felt like the whole world and everything in it. It was that kind of experience. It always is.

A version of this article appears in print in our third edition, Page 122 of T Australia with the headline:
‘Friends Who Recharge Together’
Order a copy | Subscribe