We set up a breakfast with Matilde Gioli and first thing we thank her for releasing this interview. Let’s get right down to business then!
Hi Matilde, we want to ask you about your city and hometown Milan, one of the reasons that Virzi’ chose you to play Serena in the movie “Human Capital”. Has sudden fame changed how you live and relate with your city and the places you like to go?
Well, not really… I’ve mostly noticed small changes in other cities, like Rome and Naples, because it’s as if more people have seen the movie there than in Milan. I tend to be a bit of a loner sometimes so I might hang out here or there for a while and then disappear for a year so it’s hard to notice any real difference.
Can you walk us through your typical day in Milan?
Because of the nature of my studies and now my work, acting is really unstable, the days and hours are always different, so I don’t have a classic “typical day”. I’m actually a morning person so even if I’ve done an all night-er I’ll get up early to squeeze every hour of light in the day. I’m filming a new movie now so I don’t have much free time. I do go to college though so: in the morning I have class and I’ll go either by bike or on my moped. In the afternoon I used to have practice everyday because I did agonistic synchronized swimming and now that I don’t have that anymore I really miss it; it’s like a total void… luckily filled by my family! We are four siblings and all pretty busy so I might give my brother a ride someplace or help my sister study, cook for everyone… we’re really tight and at the end of the day we gather ’round for dinner.
What about on a sunny weekend like this? What would you do in Milan? Where do you like to hang out and relax?
I think I can speak for all Milanese when I say that if it’s a sunny day we tend to get out and go to a park or something outdoors in the open. In Milan the winter keeps us cooped up inside either at home or in a pub, cafe’ or shop, because it’s so cold and rains a lot; when the sun comes out so does the urge to be out, breathing fresh air, enjoying the colors as Milan transforms. It’s true that Milan is sad and gray but in Spring it blossoms and is truly beautiful. The parks are gorgeous, but even the simple tree lined lanes make it really nice. So I usually go out and go to the park, if I have to study I bring my books with me or I simply go for walks along the canal which I adore, I think it’s one of Milan’s best treasures. It’s a nice route by bike or on skates.
You’re Milan in three places?
My three places are sentimental ones where I go because they give me that “feel-good” feeling.
- As a little girl I used to go the park in Via Palestro a lot because I lived in the area, I think it’s so gorgeous. You’ve got the Planetarium there too and I have great memories of going with my dad. Then there were rides and a little train where I played with my siblings. I still get that childish feeling of freedom when I go there.
- All of the swimming pools in Milan just because I spent so much time in them that now they are an integral part of how I live the city. My absolute fave is the Saini, near Linate, because I was there so much. It’s huge with all kinds of different pools and in the summer there’s an awesome park.
- All the little roads and lanes around my house, area Tortona/Savona are just delish because they’ve got history, surrounded by antique buildings and each time I walk around I find a new path.
What about if you had the following occasions, what would you choose?
Brunch? The classic California Bakery in Via Vigevano also because honestly I don’t know of any traditional Milanese restaurants that do brunch.
Lunch? I prefer low-key places, like the cafe’s and bakeries around the University in Via Festa del Perdono for example, always full of students and kids.
Aperitif? Depends but I’m pretty flexible and go along with whatever ideas come up, I love Milan’s social life so I like to move around. There’s this place I really love, a tiny cafe’ very small and intimate in Via Savona called Papagayo cafe. It’s really warm and inviting, just like home.
Favorite Cocktail? I like Campari so I’d say ‘Negroni Sbagliato’.
A night on the town? Wow, it’s hard to choose, there are so many cool places. I like to go dancing so I tend to look for situations outside the city… but Milan really has a lot to offer. I prefer private parties organized by friends rather than the commercial ones, but they’re O.K. too, I guess. It depends on your mood! I’m partial to an ’80s theme party organized by some friends.
The perfect party? If you were to organize a party where would it be? Who would be your Dj?
I don’t like being at the center of attention so I prefer to go to other people’s parties. However, if I were to organize a party, I like places out in the open so I’d probably have it in a park. For the dj I would be more choosey because I love electronic music: for years I went to the Sonar in Barcelona to hear all the different djs. I dream of having one of the German group from the Cadenza like Sven Vath, Villalobos, Luciano, Loco Dice. They each have something unique but if I had to choose it would have to be Ricardo Villalobos, I mean the guy flies, like in a totally different dimension.
What about when you want to relax? Do you have a favorite spa or hairdresser?
I’m not a spa or hairdresser type. But the little girls I coached in swim gave me a spa day once at the Thermal baths Porta Romana and I have to say it was pretty nice.
What about a well-kept secret for those who don’t know the city?
It’s a small, intimate place I like to go on special occasions with just a few of my favorite people. It’s called, Gli Amici del Liberty and it’s a fish restaurant in my area. I’m really attached to my area, I love it. Anyway, it’s a delicious little place all in liberty style, like a mini museum.
Where would you take a friend who’s from out of town?
First off I’d want to bust the myth that Milan isn’t beautiful. Even though Milan isn’t Rome, slapping you in the face with its beauty and marvelous views at every turn, it can still be exciting to discover the city through its cloisters, courts and there are so many hidden treasures where it seems you’ve stepped into another world. So I’d take them to the San Barnaba Cloisters and peripheral roads where there are some amazing and breathtaking paths.
Now for a question on the movie… the movie you filmed is kind of a bitter screenshot of our current reality here in Italy. You have a degree in Philosophy and are continuing your studies, do you really think that the prospects for our generation are that disappointing or do you hope for a revival, maybe even starting in your own city?
I really believe in Milan, not that I think any less of other cities, it’s just that I don’t know them that well. Milan is such a fertile city. Yes, times are tough, we’re in a bit of a crisis, it’s been hard on everyone and we all have to push and shove a little but some healthy competition is part of the real world, otherwise it would be too easy. I’m proud of how Milan is renewing itself during the hard times and it is really a valid example if we’re talking about possible potential. For the sake of complaining about the economic downturn you risk using it as a crutch but you have to make sacrifices and work hard because unfortunately this is what we’re dealing with now. I hope that the youth can take advantage of this moment to put it all out on the table and fight instead of giving in to discouragement.
We’ve mentioned how Milan is really changing-on an architectural level too-becoming so much more international. How do you picture it in 10 years? What changes have you seen?
I’m really happy with the way Milan is changing, I like the Garibaldi area with the skyscrapers and skyline, it just fits in with the city. I have been to a few conferences that showed the old Milan and already the changes were very obvious between then and now so considering how this city vibrates, I can imagine the the change will be huge ten years from now. I do think that the areas that will suffer the most will be the historical ones as the city becomes more like American cities with skyscrapers and minimalistic, modern buildings. It will be more and more like international cities losing some of its history.
The Expo is a few months from now, everyone is talking about it and the eyes of the world will be on Milan. Do you think that we’ll be able to make the most of it or ruin it by being “typical Italians”?
That’s a complicated question, but I tend to see the glass half full. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with the people working on the project and I got to see so much pride go into their work, maybe as a way to prove everyone wrong, considering all the bad rap we’ve had recently from the international media. Unfortunately though, the way it usually happens in Italy, when we have huge opportunities in front of us we drop the ball and that would be a real shame considering all the energy and potential going into it. I hope that doesn’t happen because we really need to find our national pride again, we’re influenced too much by external criticism and fail to use it as a stimulus.
‘Til now we’ve spoken with Matilde, but we’d also like to get to know Serena a little better. What do you think would her three places in Milan would be?
Serena lives in Arese, a small city outside Milan. So actually she lives Milan more like a suburban type which is completely different than the way a local resident would see the city. I don’t think Serena knows the city that well because she tends to be a bit of a loner and I don’t think she would be the type to go exploring the city and meeting new people. Anyway, considering how she’s a little mysterious and almost ‘punk’, I could totally see her at Ticenese, at Rattazzo or little kiosks and street vendors drinking a beer on her moped.
Another question for Serena, where do you think her rich boyfriend, Massimiliano, would take her for a romantic dinner?
Massimiliano would take her someplace really showy since he has an underlying insecurity complex and probably wouldn’t feel capable of winning her over with his charms. He would choose a glitzy, showy, big place that is all about how they present you your plate. She wouldn’t appreciate the uptight atmosphere and all the glam would be lost on her.
What about Luca, the passionate alternative?
Luca’s the opposite. He’d take her to an intimate place, full on San Gottardo. One of those ‘mom and pop’ shops that may be considered dingy by outsiders because it’s not well-kept or beautiful but that hides all the love of a family run business full of history. Those restaurants where the owner always have a story to tell and the food is just like home made. It would be accessible and cheap, too because in Milan there’s always that critical moment with the bill arrives, especially in these hard times.
Now for a juicier question… in real life, Massimiliano o Luca?
Luca all the way. It’s not about being ‘soul mates’ but it’s because for me no villa, car or pool will do if there’s no glue. Luca is complicated, difficult and almost scary but that’s what attracts you the most. The doomed poet.
What if you were taking him to dinner, where would you go? Would you make dinner at home?
I would make him dinner because both my parents passed this passion for cooking on to me. Neither of them are originally from Milan, my mom is Tuscan and dad has roots in Puglia, so for us cooking and making food by hand is also a way of communicating and giving positive messages. “I made this for you, taste it, I’ll tell you what’s in it”. We make homemade bread and kneading the dough relaxes me. Anyway, I’d definitely make him dinner showing off my best dishes. I make awesome focacce, lasagne, pasta ‘al forno’ (pasta casseroles), pretty elaborate dishes and full of calories, but at the end of the day they bring everyone together.
This raises an interesting question… if you hadn’t done the movie, would you have gone to “Masterchef Italia”?
You know, it’s funny you should mention it because I was thinking that just the other day. I saw the ads for selections and told myself that if I wasn’t so busy I’d kinda wanna give it a try. Not so much for being on TV or anything but out of love for cooking.
Now you’re filming a new movie, can you share a few tidbits with us?
Not much really. The cool thing is that we’re on location in Naples and I play a Neapolitan girl, so I’m working with a vocal coach to learn the dialect. I have to admit that it’s super hard. But I’m in love with the city, the language and its people and that, regardless of the challenge, motivates me. As of now I sound hilarious but I hope to reach a good level. The plot is pretty intense so I hope I don’t ruin it with my funny, wannabe accent!
We wish you the best of luck and thank you so much!