The Book

GREAT ROOMS...Sapori d’ Italia, takes you on an authentic journey
into the Italian culture by way of esthetic interior design.

  • Sapori d’ Italia has essentially been divided into two distinct regions of Italy – Toscana and Campania. Toscana is rich in design and culture, diverse architecture and marvelous food and wine. The Campania region is noted for its passion to its history and the splendor of the Amalfi coast.
  • Italy’s fresh-air lifestyle is evident by the way the Italian’s have the same sense of living outside as they do indoors. “La Dolce Vita”... a simple expression, but one that sums it up – “The Beautiful Life”.
  • The Italian spirit is entrenched in their culture, food, fashion architecture and music. Sapori d’ Italia is a journey for all those who long for La Dolce Vita.

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The idea of this book crystallized for us over a period of time. Many of our clients that we’ve worked with and guided to redesign and redecorate their homes, have asked us to breakdown a simple formula translating the Italian style to “fit into” their homes. Each client has various needs and desires, from a complete redo, to bringing in objects to work with their current décor, to transforming the overall effect to feel older, aged or from a past life. Our passion for redesign is limitless.

Most clients wanted the “Mediterranean” look, or that “Old World” feel, or, as it’s commonly referred to, a “Tuscan” look. Well, the looks they desired may have been Italian, but by no means were they just from Tuscany. The styles and designs were based on those from all over Italy, and they differ from region to region, just as the food varies from region to region.

So how then do we make sense out of a vast and rich design and culture?! The “aha” moment came to us when we realized that it would be natural to separate Italia into two of our favorite parts - TOSCANA & CAMPANIA! The Tuscan region is in fact, considered central Italy, and the heart of Tuscany is the city of Florence. Campania is a region located in the south, whose core and dominating city is Naples.

This book takes you on an authentic journey into the Italian culture by way of esthetic interior design. It brings the flavors, colors and textures of a country rich in history and timeless passion. We convey the original ideas to guide inspirations and transformations of the atmosphere of your home.

So much has been done on Italian Design, beautiful villas, sweeping countrysides and panoramic coastlines. However, this book shows you the real designs and provides you with a personal peek into an open window, or an unlocked door. From the chance meeting of an elegant gentleman on the Ponte Vecchio at 1:00 in the morning, or the warm grace and hospitality of a Neapolitan family offering a five star lunch at a moment’s notice, this book illustrates design in a whole new light. Rich in character, contrasts and interpretations, this book uses simple ideas and elements to recreate the warm glow at the heart of Italia.

We each have a story – of who we are, what we desire and what we are about. We tell this story with our lives, our homes, our furniture and our décor. Creating our spaces defines our history, our present and our future. Surrounding our environment with things of comfort – for the body, mind and soul - can give us a strong sense of peace and tranquility.


We offer sincere thanks to all who journeyed with us, in one form or another, on the travels of making this book reality.

Thank you...
Antonio Busiello -the other man in our life - our traveling companion and the most incredible photographer and graphic designer. You brought our journey through homes, into life on paper. Your patience, chivalry and savoir-faire, diligent attention to our needs for espresso, have not gone unnoticed. Risotto is just one of your many other talents. The light bends to your will. Remember..... “Do it for the book!” Will Reynolds, our publisher, for supporting our concept and taking a chance on a couple of gals, then turning this manuscript into a beautiful book. Cherry Hepburn of Putnam and Smith Public Relations, for listening to our idea for a book, opening the right doors and turning our passion for design into print.

Annette Ward, our editor, for refining our words and expressions and keeping them intact. David Muzzy, for giving us our first break, taking us under your wing, believing in a couple of “decorinas”, encouraging us and always having faith in our philosophy of design. Peter Hoang, for his fine furniture upholstery line, New Dimensions, and allowing us the freedom to create our own furniture collection. Mara Ascione, Marcello Baldelli and the Baldelli famiglia, for the warm hospitality, fresh mozzarella, the history of Napoli and guided tours, your gnocchi deliziosi, fried artichokes, and the design connections you gave us. Carmela Barbarano, for the homes you designed so beautifully and choosing to share them with us. Neri Torcello and Andrea Becucci, for opening up your hearts, your instant friendships, enlightening us with your historic knowledge and introducing us to the wonderful people of Toscana. Fabio Busiello and Lucia Ghieri, for finding us our cinquecento, driving us through the streets of Florence and for your hospitality and amazing meals, especially the bistecca. Bifulco and Carbone families, for your five-star hospitality and treating us as one of the family. Architect Sabrina Masala, for the introduction of Torre del Saracino, Vittoria Aiello and Chef Gennaro Esposito. John Elliott, our Emmy award winning, Makeup Artist who transformed our faces. Bianca Hammons, our Hair Stylist extraordinaire and Natalie Barbera, our rockin’ Wardrobe Stylist.

Mariette Menne for your friendship which enriches our lives and our working partnership which has been a great collaboration.

And last but certainly not least…
Tony Parisi, Papa, for regaling us with your stories of Napoli, your constant encouragement, your fatherly advice, our daily horoscope, translating our Italian text correctly, and bringing us your meatballs and risotto balls. Thank you to our kids, Nicole and Victoria Hilton, Chris, Ashley, Adam and Andrew Mulligan, for your creative feedback and for supporting us with your encouragement and excitement. And to our husbands, Tom Hilton and Jim Mulligan, for their unyielding encouragement, covering the showroom, working with clients, supplying our addictive need for cherry tootsie-pops, advising us, cooking for us, believing in us, being our biggest supporters and always having our backs.


I was sitting at the foot of her bed, she was feeling weak today. I was telling her about my recent trip to Italy with my husband and how being in Florence grabbed my heart, how being back in Italia stirred something deep within me totally unexpected.

As I was endlessly recounting the beauty, art and food, she was quietly smiling to herself, probably wishing that I would have gotten it long before now, but happy that I was finally getting it.

Throughout my explanations and storytelling, I was also lamenting how great it would be to share the experience with my dearest friend Ann. “But if only we could go together”, I was saying how much I’d love to show her “my Italia”, and how great it would be for us gals to do a trip on our own.

My mother, Giovanna Lilliana Ascione Parisi, was a native of Vomero, Napoli. “Vanna”, as she became known to all of those who knew her, loved both of her countries, after making her way to America in 1955 on the USS Constitution. You can take the girl out of Italia, but you can never take Italia out of the girl.

She said in her usual Italia-American broken English, “Why can’t you, perche non puoi, why can’t you”? “Cosa stai aspettando?! What are you waiting for?! I rattled on about work, the kids and finances, and how this was not the right time in my life for such dreams and there were too many things to consider. She just looked at me and said “Se non ora quando? If not now when?” “There will always be something, what are you waiting for-cosa stai aspettando?” “Life is short my daughter-La vita`e breve figlia mia”. “Devi essere sicuro, che ci sara sempre qualcosa, come il vento”- To be sure, there will always be something, like the wind.

Traveling with your husband and family is wonderful, but traveling with your girlfriend – “E`speciale”. “Come donne vediamo le cose con gli stessi occhi – As women we see things through the same eyes”.

I finally get it! If not now, when?! “Se non ora, quando?!”

Carol Ascione Hilton