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Villa Mangiacane – A Fashionable Q&A with Co-Owner Nadiia Cohen

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Ukranian by birth, Nadiia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Kiev National University of Technologies and Design before moving to Los Angeles where she entered the business world in sports merchandising. It was here that she began her modeling career. One day, whilst shooting in Cape Town, South Africa, she met her husband, Glynn David Cohen, and soon moved to Europe.

With a passion for design, Nadiia graduated from Inscape Education Group in Cape Town before leading the interior design project at Villa Mangiacane, a luxurious escape in the heart of Tuscany. Today, as well as being a mother to twins, she runs homes in Italy, Monaco, and Cape Town whilst keeping a close eye on the management, marketing, and ongoing development of Villa Mangiacane.

For more information, please visit www.mangiacane.com/en/

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nadiia cohen courtesy of villa mangiacane
Nadiia Cohen; Courtesy of Villa Mangiacane

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1. How and when did you first realize you wanted to work in your current industry?

It was destiny, actually. I met my husband-to-be, at the time, who had just bought Villa Mangiacane and together we restored the property to what you see today. I love interior design, so initially I got involved in that side of the project. I especially love spas so designing the Naduchka Spa at Villa Mangiacane, which was inspired by my travels, was a particular highlight.  Our goal was always to make it a home first and a luxury hotel second, so I hope our guests enjoy the personal touches and feel it’s a “home away from home.”

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2. Any celebrity clients or memorable stories related to your business that you want to share?

There are quite a few celebrities who pass through Villa Mangiacane, but they probably do so because of the serenity of the estate and the discretion of our staff, so “mum’s the word,” I’m afraid!

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3. How would you describe your personal style?

In one word, “classy,” but I live between three places so I’m a bit of a chameleon. In Monaco, it’s all about elegance. In Florence, Italy, it’s about comfort because I’m often out and about on the estate and in the vineyard. In Cape Town, South Africa, it’s very relaxed since I’m often chasing the children on the beach and in the park.

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4. What is a typical day in your life like?

There’s no typical day but it does always start with my kids bouncing into the bedroom saying, “let’s do something fun.”

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5. What are three never-miss events on your calendar?

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Gala in St. Tropez, France – this is consistently the most unbelievable charity event and one that is for an environmental cause that is close to my heart for personal reasons.
  • The Monaco Grand Prix – I haven’t missed one yet since living in Monaco.
  • Andrea Bocelli never ceases to amaze me with the program he puts together for his charity week each September. It is the most wonderful way to explore the places you never knew existed in Tuscany, Italy, and listening to him sing in a medieval castle is completely mesmerizing.

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6. What are your favorite locations in Florence?

  • Piazza Michelangelo offers my favorite views of the city. I love the romance of the Ponte Vecchio and the contrast between the hustle and bustle of the jewellery shops below versus the calm and inspiration found in the secret corridor above, also filled with amazing pieces of art.
  • The long line outside the Accademia is there for one thing only and that’s to see David, who at seventeen feet tall, was carved out of just one block of marble by Michelangelo, who incidentally also designed Villa Mangiacane. It’s certainly an awe-inspiring experience to stand next to David.

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7. What are your three favorite restaurants in Florence?

  • Harry’s Bar has been one of the most famous restaurants in the world for over half a century and is a personal favorite of mine. Unashamedly old fashioned, with magnificent riverside views, its charm and style continue to fascinate people from across the world.
  • Cantinetta Antinori, on the ground floor of the fifteenth century Antinori Mansion, is another must-visit destination in Florence that’s always buzzing; offering typical Florentine cuisine, it combines simplicity with class.
  • A little different, Fuor D’Acqua is one of the best fish restaurants I’ve ever been to. With fresh fish and seafood arriving every morning from the fish market in Viareggio, this tastefully converted warehouse in the historic center is often packed with an eclectic clientele and has an impressive wine list.

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Nadiia & Glynn David Cohen 1 (Photo Credit – Villa Mangiacane)
Nadiia Cohen and Glynn David Cohen; Courtesy of Villa Mangiacane

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8. What are your three favorite bars in Florence?

  • The rooftop bar at the Westin is probably my favorite spot with sensational 360° views across the city.
  • Locale is a bar with attitude and prices to match, but their mixologist has a creative flair to excite and you’ll not be disappointed.
  • Le Volpi e l’Uva is probably the City’s best hidden gem; it’s a tiny little wine bar with a phenomenal selection of Italian wines by the glass and they really hunt out some of the best small producers; this place will certainly tickle the taste buds.

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9. What has been your best New York moment? What about the worst?

I love absolutely everything about New York, so it’s difficult to pick out one moment as such but I do always love attending the Princess Grace Foundation Awards Gala and the Angel Ball by Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation.

The worst moment—and I suspect I’m not alone with this one—is when you land and arrive at customs.

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10. Name your go-to: 

Outfit – a dress, and I have one for every occasion – short, long, floaty, flowery, etc!

Perfume or Fragrance – Narcotic V by Nasomatto

MovieThe Talented Mr. Ripley

BookCrime and Punishment by Dostoevsky

TV showSex and the City

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11. Name your favorite vacation spot, and the hotel you stay at while there. What makes these spots special?

I’m not a fan of big chains and always prefer boutique hotels. Cap Estel Hotel, just outside Monaco, is probably the most romantic place on earth. I was blown away by the sports offered at Necker Island. The Peninsula Beverly Hills offers a haven of tranquillity in the city and the personalized pillowcases for returning clients are an amazing touch. Here in Italy, I adore escaping to the Mezzatorre Resort and Spa on the island of Ischia – it has sensational food and is the perfect place for a health retreat.

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12. What are your three most played songs?

  • “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven is a piece I often listen to and enjoy playing on the piano.
  • “You Take My Breath Away” by Freddie Mercury still gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.
  • “Taka Yak Ti” by Okean Elzy is a beautiful Ukrainian song that always takes me back to my roots.

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13. What are three items you couldn’t live without?

  • My walking shoes for exploring the Tuscan Hills, Alpes-Maritimes, and the Western Cape
  • A good book to get lost in during the quiet moments when the kids are away at school
  • Prosecco is my go-to aperitif wherever I am in the world.

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14. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Michelangelo – I would love to have watched him make David. I think it is the most beautiful sculpture ever made.

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15. What is something people might not know about you?

Behind my small and rather gentle frame is a strong character who is always prepared to fight for my beliefs and values.

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16. When did you feel like you had “made it” professionally?

I’m still making it!

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17. Do you have any advice for those aspiring to work in your industry?

Wake up early, smile, and treat others as you would want to be treated yourself!

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Nadiia & Glynn David Cohen 2 (Photo Credit – Justin Munitz)
Nadiia Cohen and Glynn David Cohen; Photo by Justin Munitz

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18. What changes do you think your industry will undergo in the next 5-10 years?

I think we are going to see people seeking out bespoke luxury over big brands, and luxury experiences over products, which is great for hotels like Villa Mangiacane. Our staff can often be found setting up intimate dinners at beautiful spots around the estate for our guests or creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as hot air balloon rides or fast-car driving experiences for those trying to escape the urban rat race.

We will certainly see investments in technology that will not only enhance the guest experience but bring operational benefits, such as with cloud-based reservation systems.

The industry also has to go green. As a luxury tourist you want to feel great about your travels. At Mangiacane, we want to capture people with our history, attract them with a 5-star experience and then wow them with our sustainable endeavors.

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19. What is it that you love about Villa Mangiacane?

I first experienced the magic of Mangiacane at a point when you had to have a vision and an imagination, so to see it restored to its former beauty is pure joy. The peace and tranquility on the estate is absolutely sublime. What’s not to love about enjoying lazy lunches with our own estate wines in an historic palace overlooking the Tuscan hills to Florence?

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PHOTO CREDITS

Beach Portrait of Nadiia Cohen and Glynn David Cohen by Justin Munitz; All Other Photos Courtesy of Villa Mangiacane.