Italy Segreta: a conversation with founders Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti

Italy Segreta: a conversation with founders Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti

How Instagram success led to the creation of a magazine, creative agency and travel service

Mon 27 Nov 2023 2:19 PM

The secret is the truth! Italy Segreta has won over hearts and minds with the purest visuals of Italy in a cinematic style, reinstating the often forgotten fleeting Italian scenes that have influenced us all. The Florentine sits down with twins and co-founders Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti to get the deep dive on their new Italian story.

Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti Ph. Marco Badiani
Marina and Cesare Cacciapuoti in their rooftop office terrace in Florence. Ph. Marco Badiani

Tell us about yourselves and how the Italy Segreta project was born?

Marina: Our father is from Naples, our mother is from Rome, but we grew up in Florence. We went to ISF. I worked for seven years in New York at Condé Nast and Hearst. I came back to Italy for the holidays, returned to NYC and saw how everyone described Italy. I didn’t like how it was illustrated by the Americans that only knew the elevated part of the market. The Italy Segreta project came about as soon as I started to miss home. It’s true that every country has its problems, but I prefer Italy’s problems. I began a little blog where I always invited others to write with me. I missed Italy and wanted to give something back.

Now things are changing. Tuscany is one thing, Florence is another. But Tuscany is still seen as rolling hills, but there are islands, there’s a beautiful coastline and there are interesting cities other than Florence. I didn’t understand why there had to be one story for people abroad and another for those who live in Italy. I wanted to express the truth and to be just as interesting to both audiences.

When did you establish such a recognizable visual style?

Cesare: This is all down to Marina. When she established Italy Segreta to tell our truth about Italian culture and style, she did so with a distinctive style. It was born as a passion project, but she instinctively injected it with character, with a clear, strong and direct visual. Italy Segreta was the first on Instagram to have videos with no frills, unedited, static, coherent and always recognizable. Our social media has no schedule, so as not to lose the truth, and Marina still takes many of the photos and videos. To be creative, you have to suffer a bit and take risks. Marina is dedicating her life to this project. Every day she dedicates her attention to Italy.

Marina: People still don’t get it. They don’t read it as a publication; they view it as an Instagram project because the channel went viral! Our reality is that every post is linked to an article that delves deeper.

Italy Segreta
Images taken from Italy Segreta’s uber-popular Instagram

What’s the mission of Italy Segreta?

Cesare: As soon as the excitement about Italy Segreta began, Italians started to empathize and the international community followed them. When Marina moved back to Italy and Italy Segreta took shape, she called me. Just as she left her brilliant career in the States, I left my career as an entrepreneur to embark on this challenge together. We complement each other with our different take on creativity, we fed ourselves with optimism, and this is how we began. Italy Segreta is an Italian company. In August 2020, we published our first issue with a clear entrepreneurial vision to depict Italy and preserve the value of Italian culture. By this, I mean the culture that Italy risks losing as it is watered down and commercialized. Instead it deserves care because it has given us so much in our upbringing. We find worth, beauty and luxury in the simplicity of things.

Marina: We Italians have all this, but we often take it for granted…We are about to launch Italy Segreta Abroad. Why should we limit ourselves to Italy when the world is full of amazing young Italians who work abroad, have started businesses and do crazy things that represent the country so well internationally. I can’t say any more, but it will be an Italy Segreta publication.

But why “Segreta”?

Marina: Segreta is the truth. It means noticing the things we no longer notice, even if it’s at our fingertips. Segreta is promoting unknown businesses that are unable to market themselves. That means making our channels available to artisans and artists that have less chance of visibility. The more we grow, the more we want to be at the disposal of those who deserve it.

From the Italy Segreta archive

What’s the business behind Italy Segreta?

Cesare: This has always been a delicate topic. How do we nourish a publishing project this pure? In 2020, we turned Marina’s experience in social media visibility into a publication to give the storytelling depth. We set the rule that advertisements must not be directly linked to the stories. We waited until we were big enough for important brands to share and support what we wanted to write. Brands that want to support Italy, our calling and mindset, not the product, but the people who make it. Of course, it’s not easy. 

Marina: We also set up a creative agency to bring our storytelling know-how to the companies that needed it. Lastly, part of our team works solely on the experiences that we offer. That idea developed organically when people asked us for the Italy Segreta Experience. They called us for advice and we invested a lot of time developing these activities naturally. You can buy an experience online or request our bespoke travel service, where we guarantee the quality and selection on offer. This is something we care about more and more.  

How does Italy Segreta work?

Marina: We publish eight online editions of Italy Segreta every year and this year we also released a print edition called Quotidi-anno, which we published with two different covers. It’s a coffee-table magazine in the Italy Segreta style. Our core team is made up entirely of women, plus Cesare. There are 11 of us, many work remotely and some are often in our terrace-headquarters, from which you can see all of Florence. We are certainly not your standard editorial team…We have more than 60 freelance journalists throughout Italy, who we regularly rely on for the inside story. Our idea was always to choose people we like to work with, who keep us fresh and creative. Almost everyone comes to visit and the best ideas come out during our brainstorming meetings. We need to see each other and spend time together.

I share your love of Italy, but is that the only thing you feel?

Marina: Italian dysfunctionality often drives foreigners crazy. These days I view it as a scene in a beautiful film and appreciate it. Sure, the total chaos might bother me a bit, but I get a kick out of the authenticity. The post office is one of my favorite places, with that little number in my hand. Efficiency only interests me to a certain point. In Italy, there’s beauty in the complications.

Cesare: Italy is a country of contrasts, it’s true, but everyone can experience it equally in terms of quality of life and beauty. At your neighborhood restaurant, you eat lunch at the table next to the CEO of a multinational company or an artisan, a jeweler next to a builder. I’m thinking of places like La Casalinga or Le Mossacce. Or even on the beach in the summer. In our stories, we confront the problems and crave change, but this doesn’t diminish our love.

Is Florence a suitable place to develop a national and international brand?

Cesare: We grew up in Florence, but we’ve lived in Rome, Milan and New York. We decided to live in Florence to bring our family together again.

Marina: From Florence, you can go anywhere by train or plane. Peretola can take me to Paris, London, Bari and the islands. Italy Segreta chose Florence. You don’t have to be in Milan to feel international in this connected digital age. Florence has a lively international community that decided to live here. Like any city, Florence is restricted by the limits set by the people who live here and their professions. The provincial mindset is what makes the city special for its sense of community, while it also makes us narrow-minded and stereotyped. Any lack of opportunity is perhaps seen more by Florentines than by those who choose to come and live here.

What do you expect from Florence? 

Marina: I believe that we need a new renaissance in the world of art and events. Brave young people deserve more places and resources, and we need to coexist with all this history in a new way of being Florence. 

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