“For me, Christmas is a great spiritual feast. Not so much religious, but of the soul,” says Brunello Cucinelli, the Italian designer known for his luxurious cashmere knits and slow, philosophical approach to fashion. He grew up in a farming community near Perugia, and rather than run his eponymous business out of the style capital of Milan, he made the decision, in 1985, to move his home and headquarters to Solomeo, a medieval hamlet in the hills of Umbria. In the decades since, he has carefully restored its historic structures, built a theater and an amphitheater, and supported the plan for a library, construction for which will begin at the end of this year.
“I was born in a small village, and I live in a small village,” he says. “It would be difficult for me to imagine Christmas anywhere else.” The picture he paints of the holiday season in Solomeo is storybook perfect: a log in the fireplace so gigantic that it burns all night long; a small juniper tree decorated with tangerines; a miniature crèche in every window; glasses of milk left out for Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. And, of course, there’s music. “Last year, we played a lot of Ennio Morricone,” he notes. “And we sing carols from the morning until around 10 p.m.”
On Christmas Day, the family—including Cucinelli’s 100-year-old father and young grandchildren—gathers for a lunch of cappelletti in brodo, a traditional holiday dish of delicate dumplings in a clear broth. Their gifts are defined by warmth and comfort; one tradition is to give one another vinyl records that will be played during gatherings. This year, Cucinelli has his eye on a Pink Floyd box set. (“I grew up with Pink Floyd. For me, it was always music to look at the sky to,” he says.) Also under the tree: extra-dark Perugina chocolate, Cuban cigars, plaid cashmere scarves, and local extra virgin olive oil and freshly milled wheat flour.
And for the past 43 years, the company present is always a classic work of literature. Previous examples include Don Quixote, Epicurus’s Letter on Happiness, and One Thousand and One Nights; 2021’s is War and Peace. “Our favorite is The Little Prince, which also comes in a pop-up version for our little friends,” Cucinelli says. “For us, it is one of the most beautiful books of humanity.”
The Cucinelli Family’s Gift Guide
Still lifes photographed by Devin Doyle; set design by Elaine Winter; styled by Christina Holevas.