Updated: Oct 1, 2018
by Elizabeth Gracen:
My good friend, Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigoleno, is the quintessential Italian bohemian diva. She’s powerful, joyful, and one hell of cook. We met many years ago when I lived in Florence, Italy, for a summer. We’ve been glorious friends ever since. She nicknamed me ‘Flapper’ many years ago after she accompanied me to a Fiesole barber shop overlooking Florence. When I asked the barber to cut my hair into a ‘bob,’ he finally understood, and in broken English said, “Ah… Charleston?” After that, Ippo has never stopped calling me 'Flapper,' and I love it! Ippo is a true friend, partner in crime, and my go to gal for all things Italy!
Please meet Ippo!
EG: Ippo, I am so happy to have you as an important part of Flapper Press! I’ve had the great fortune to sit at your table on many occasions and to stroll the streets of Firenze with you as my guide. Yours is a unique, rock and roll perspective on Italian culture and food. I can’t wait for everyone to fall in love with you! Please tell us a bit about who you are and why you love food so much.
Ippo: My adorable Flapper, I’m very honored to be an active part of your fantastic website! As you know, one of my greatest passions is food. I love to share a good genuine meal with my friends and I think food is the perfect message to show love, everyday, to my fiancé and to the people around me.
I remember when, for the first time, I invited you for lunch in my house in the center of Florence, I cooked “arista,” a special cut of pork roasted in the oven, with potatoes, sage, garlic, juniper berries and rosemary. Very traditional Tuscan cooking! From that meal we shared gourmet food all around the world!
Cooking is a great part of my life… I also cook for my cats! And when I’m not in the kitchen… I write books and, yes, also cookbooks!
EG: You’ve written several cookbooks in Italian over the past couple of years. Tell me about the books and if we will ever get the chance to read them in English!
Ippo: I just wrote a book about a new cooking trend... Superfood! Another book holds 400 healthy recipes using turmeric and ginger, and yet another book is about the historical curiosities of Florence. I’m currently writing a book about the Medici and the ancient lords of Florence. My next book will be about 500 traditional Italian vegetarian recipes. I don’t know if the rights are just sold abroad, it depends on my publisher! Another publisher asked me for a book about white magic next year, we will see!
EG: You have the unique experience of living in the heart of Florence, Italy, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy—in the world for that matter. Over the years, I’ve visited Florence many times and actually lived there one summer in the late 90s. It was different to integrate into Florentine daily life as opposed to visiting as a tourist. I loved it, but found it challenging and loud, the sound of vespas ringing through the piazzas! You are a native… describe what it’s like to live in Firenze.
Ippo: I love to live in Florence, I was born here, I can see the Duomo every time I go out.
It is an unique city, full of art and history, and also full of secrets.
Yes, it is loud…but you know, we are Italians!
EG: Even though we are miles apart, we live in a ‘connected’ world with news and drama bombarding us every day. Italy has its own particular challenges. It’s impossible for you to speak on behalf of your country, but I’m curious about what a true Italian thinks about the world. What would you like us to know?
Ippo: I’m not the right person to speak about the disgusting Italian politics and economic world, because I was never interested in politics. I think it’s not sexy, ha! ha!
I can tell you only that here in Italy, the wrong people still manage our country. Anyway, I think that the wrong people are ruling the world in general. Especially in Italy, for my generation, it is almost impossible to find a safe and long-term job; taxes are too high and public health doesn’t work at all.
In my modest opinion, the most important way to survive in this planet we are wasting in every way, is RESPECT. Respect for Mother Nature, which means respect for all the animals, including the silly destroyer humans. Respect for the plants, the oceans, the sky and all the earth. If you teach how to respect the planet, maybe the next generations will survive, but maybe it is too late to fix all our mistakes, and we deserve extinction.
EG: When I traveled back to Italy a couple of years ago with a group of friends and family, we took several ‘food’ tours—the most memorable one in Rome. Tell me about the best places to eat in your beautiful city—aside from your home!
Ippo: I love to go out for dinner, and there are some great places just near my house, a very good traditional “trattorie,”and another place near Santa Croce church that cooks an incredible pizza with genuine ingredients. There are great wine shops and a guy who makes the best panini in the world. If you avoid the tons of new places made only for tourists, you can eat in the center of Florence, great, authentic, and genuine food.
Tuscan cooking tradition is made by poor dishes, but we know how to turn stale bread into a superbe ribollita, for example!
I’m curious, and my boyfriend and I also love to try new places with ethnic flavors. I always try to replicate for him the dishes we’ve tasted later at home!
I love to travel, and every region has its delicacies, and every region is completely different from another.
I adore the southern food of Sicily, Apulia and also in Northern Italy, there are fantastic typical dishes and the best wine.
In Italy it’s impossible to eat bad food. We have an ancient culinary tradition, and we have the sun, the earth, and the sea, which are the most genuine factors to grow great food products.
I must confess that, in the past, America gave us some ingredients that are fundamental for our typical dishes—like tomatoes and potatoes, and even cocoa. During the centuries we’ve learned how to create our way of cooking with the products of the New World, can you imagine pizza without tomato? Food connects everybody.
EG: Can you tell me a little about your blog and what you’ll be sharing with us in the coming months?
Ippo: I want to share with you not only recipes and advice, through my experience as a home chef and writer, but also the joy of hosting and the magical daily ritual of cooking for someone you love, when each bite becomes a kiss of love.
Food for me is not only a tasting experience, but also a mental experience.
EG: Thank you, sweet Ippo, for talking to me. I can’t wait to see what recipes you’ll be posting next!
Ippo: Baci!... Flapper! I can’t wait to cook for you and to give cooking ideas and tips to everyone who would like to try to imagine to be in the kitchen with an authentic Italian cook.
May the fork be with you! Buon appetito!