Last Spring, at a Chicago restaurant named Tuscany, bene was conceived. Two longtime friends, Vince Naccarato, a successful entrepreneur, and Geri Brin, president of a publishing and marketing company, started talking about how much they love Italy and how amazing it would be to start a magazine all about it. Then, over dishes of homemade gnocchi, they decided to do it.
We went to work immediately, assembling a team of New York-based editors and designers, as well as writers and researchers in Italy. Our mission is to cover Italy in a new and unexpected way—to reveal its authentic, surprising, funny sides that are overlooked by typical guidebooks and travel magazines. Bene is not only for people planning a trip; it's also for those who want to enjoy the Italian lifestyle here in the United States. In this first issue, we show you how to eat like an Italian (find the perfect pea), dress like an Italian (socks are all important) and even relax like an Italian (head for Ponza).
Above all, bene is about slowing down and savoring the beautiful things in life. Nothing reveals this as well as the Italians themselves. Without a doubt, the best part of the process was working with our incredibly warm and friendly Italian writers. Take their e-mails: At first, I was surprised by the personal details they included ("I just got back from skiing in the Dolomites," or "You have to try this dessert wine," or "This week, I'm juggling a visit from my mother, four major articles and three angry girlfriends"). But I started looking forward to their stories, and we soon became friends, not just colleagues.
One writer in particular was so charming that he became a legend in our offices. He began every email with, "Ciao, bella," flattered us incessantly and spent three months debating which woman on the bene staff was the most beautiful. (In the end, he called it a tie.) He even called us on Christmas, to wish our families Buon Natale.
The outlook of our Italian colleagues started to rub off on us. Here, in Manhattan, we're used to pushing through twelve-hour days, skipping dinner to finish projects and working over the weekends. After seeing our Italian writers' balanced lives, however, we began to relax a little and take more time to enjoy life. Now we have flowers in the offices ad bottles of San Pellegrino on our desks. We play music while we work. We take more weekend trips. We've become regulars at Gnocco, a restaurant in the East Village, where we often share a bottle of wine with the owners (see "An Italian Love Story," page 72).
So slow down and enjoy life like the Italians do. We hope you get as much from bene as we have.
Joanna Goddard, Editor