We Celebrate International Women’s Day by Paying Homage to Some Pretty Inspiring Ladies
As a mostly female team, we celebrate women every day at ISSIMO. But to mark International Women’s Day, we thought we’d shed an even brighter light on our peers – what was once called ‘the fair sex’ and pay homage to some of the ladies that inspire us, delight us and sometimes just wow us outside of the office.
From winemakers to entrepreneurs, cooks to artists, here are five Italian women making waves in their sectors – and paving the way for future generations.
The Chef: Sarah Cicolini of SantoPalato
Born in Abruzzo, Sarah Cicolini is a force to be reckoned with – not to mention the woman behind one of our favourite restaurants in Rome: SantoPalato, in the San Giovanni neighbourhood. She opened it in 2016, yet to turn 30, after cutting her teeth in various starred kitchens around the Eternal City. Ever since then, she’s made a name for serving innovative and modern interpretations of traditional Roman cuisine, turning SantoPalato into one of the most sought-after eateries in the Italian capital.
Cicolini is particularly known for her love and mastery of the art of pasta-making, for which she uses ancient grains and traditional techniques (if you go, try her carbonara), but also for being a passionate advocate of fresh, locally sourced ingredients and preserving and promoting Lazio’s (and Abruzzo’s) culinary heritage.
Ambitious, determined and with a keen eye on quality, she likes to be called a cook, not a chef. And we respect her even more for that.
The Winemaker: Donatella Cinelli Colombini
While still predominantly male-dominated, the wine industry has seen a growing number of women earning plaudits in recent years – both in Italy and abroad. Among them, Donatella Cinelli Colombini could be considered a pioneer in the field.
Born in Tuscany to a family of Brunello di Montalcino producers, she’s the founder of Casato Prime Donne (as well as a Medieval Art History major, if that wasn’t cool enough), a venture dedicated to Brunello di Montalcino that only counts women among its staff – a way, Cinelli Colombini will tell you, to create a space for female winemaker to grow, work together, and make really great vino.
The Artist: Costanza Alvarez de Castro, Tuscany
Born in Rome in 1989 from an Italian father and a Salvadoran mother, Costanza Alvarez de Castro is one of those artists whose work you could admire for days. The start of her creative career dates to the early 2010s, when she realised that her studies – she had a degree in Economics for International Cooperation and Development under her belt – left her thoroughly unfulfilled. Rather than embarking on a 9-to-5 job, Alvarez de Castro decided to pursue her true passion, painting. And we’re so glad she did. After a stint as a production designer assistant for Bernardo Bertolucci, she went on to enrol at the Institut Superieur de Peinture Van Der Kelen et Logelain in Brussel to hone her craft, then worked at the Opera Theatre in Rome, where she began focusing on working on canvas.
Ever since then, she’s been making her name in the art world holding solo shows, taking part in competitions like the BP Award and, above all, making mesmerising pieces that weave the dreamy and the theatrical, the layered and the magical.
The Activist: Giulia Blasi
Among the many things we admire about Giulia Blasi, is her ability to use the power of the web to talk about feminist issues, inclusion and gender equality, and to remind women that, despite progress, there’s still a lot to be done to move on from the patriarchy. Long-involved in various campaigns like the “Non Una Di Meno” movement, which fights against gender-based violence and harassment, Blasi is a fierce champion of Italian feminism, and an active voice in the field of journalism, writing for several Italian newspapers and magazines, and hosting a radio show focused on digital culture and technology.
Throughout her career, she’s been a vocal critic of online harassment and hate speech, as well as of the way technology can be used to infringe on individuals’ privacy and civil liberties. She has been recognized for her advocacy work, receiving the “Anna Politkovskaya Award” in 2018 for her commitment to human rights and free speech.
The Entrepreneur: Viviana Sirigu
Vivian Sirigu is a true Italian hero. In 2007, to preserve what she felt was an intangible heritage of both her family and Orroli, her native town in Sardinia, she founded Kentos, an organic bakery producing local breads the way it’s been done for centuries (kentos means centenarian in Sardinian dialect).
Using only locally sourced ingredients and time-honoured techniques, Sirigu is a sustainable gatekeeper of a fading Italian tradition (all the materials she relies on are biodegradable and low impact on the environment), but also a seriously ambitious entrepreneur. It goes unsaid that her breads – from the moddizzosu to the pane carasau – are utterly delicious.