Saint Petersburg


My perfect day in St. Petersburg: Francesco Attolini


The well-known artist Francesco Attolini, Gallerist of the Metropolis Gallery, told us about his relationship with St. Petersburg.

You have now been living and working in Russia for eight years. In that time you have staged more than 500 exhibitions and events and collaborated with major brands in the worlds of fashion, art and gastronomy. Do you remember your first visit of the Northern Capital?

My first visit was such a wonderful and amazing experience that I was left speechless. I came here as a tourist in August 2005 and I fell madly in love with the city at first sight — the atmosphere, the architecture, the people! Up till then I had never felt as at home anywhere as I did in St. Petersburg. So on the flight back to Milan there was only one thought in my head: how to plan my future so as to return to the city which had so enchanted me to live and work.

Has your relationship with the city changed in any way?

The relationship has developed gradually. In 2007 I set up an “observatory” on new trends, property and business connected with art and culture through the creative laboratory of the “Norman Brain” by “Norman Group” (international management and re-planning of real estate assets). Three months later, during White Nights, I decided to “marry” the city. In that short period of time I had realized that I was not only developing and feeling as comfortable as possible in my new environment, but also that the city needed me as much as I needed it. In my heart, as an artist and as a manager, I felt that I could develop more here than in Milan. In June 2009, at the height of my career in Milan both as an artist and as a manager, there was a serious national crisis in Italy and I decided to leave. On 15 June 2009 I bought a one-way ticket to St. Petersburg with the absolutely certainty that it would be the greatest adventure of my life. And so it has proved.

How would you imagine a perfect day in general and in our city in particular?

For me a perfect day in St. Petersburg would be a walk with my wife and son during White Nights along Architect Rossi Street to Nevsky Prospekt, then along Italyanskaya Street and back to Nevsky via Sadovaya Street. I would also imagine a boat trip on the Neva by night, because St. Petersburg is above all water, wind and light.

Where would you prefer to have breakfast, lunch or dinner?

There are an enormous number of good restaurants to choose from in St. Petersburg — I think it is virtually impossible to have a bad meal here. However, since the restaurant business is one of the areas of my work I would like to propose a special culinary tour where you can be confident not only in the quality of the food but also in impeccable service and surroundings. So let’s start: we will have breakfast at the Tea Lounge in the Four Seasons Lion Palace Hotel with my friends Herve Fucho (director of food and beverage) and Matteo Guidi (brand chef). Then we will visit my old friend Luigi Barbato at “Mansarda” — it is a luxury restaurant with a fantastic panoramic view in a complex designed by Italian architects. Then we will go for my perfect dinner at “Il Milanese”, where the head chef Marco Pennisi combines Italian traditions and new technologies in a way that few chefs in St. Petersburg manage. To enjoy a glass of wine with friends I go to Antonio Fresa at “Jerome”! It is a fantastic, original place created with love and professionalism.

What are the first things you show friends who are visiting the city?

When I invite my friends to St. Petersburg I always recommend them to do a lot of walking and visit all the islands, because I think each island is like a separate town with its own identity — even the people seem different. Of course I would organize a tour of the museums, the most popular galleries and art centres. Naturally they would include the “Hermitage 20/21” project, the Russian Museum, “Loft Project ETAGI” the “Pushkinskaya, 10” Art Centre and the Faberge Museum.

How is your collection and exhibition plan at the Metropolis Gallery taking shape?

We are filling the gallery’s geometric, minimalist space with various concepts — my team of artists are always coming up with new ideas. The Metropolis Gallery features not only artists whose works have appeared in the last sixteen exhibitions (and that is a record for a gallery which opened only in June 2017), but also all the artists who have been with me on the journey that began nine years ago at the Che Bar & Gallery, then at the OIOIOI Art Gallery and in the Rizzordi Foundation. Our general catalogue includes not only young names and masters of Russian art but also foreign artists, both classical and contemporary.

We are planning some fascinating exhibitions of contemporary art. Visitors will be able to see works by Tony Federico, Cristiano Ceretti, Marcantonio Lunardi, Platon Petrov, Xante Battaglia and Yury Kutyur. We are preparing an international review of works by Latin American artists working in street art, photo and video art and numerous other interesting projects.

Where St.Petersburg

August 2019

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