The Austrian born, Italian-based Susanne Thun does Italian hospitality with laser sharp Austrian precision and the results are glorious. A former fashion editor and ongoing creative consultant, Thun is opinionated as she is creative, and in her inventive world there is an answer for everything. What kind of posate is appropriate for the seaside? Bamboo, of course. What color uniform do the maids wear? It’s obviously grey. Where do you go to buy decorative brass candle holders for an unmatchable outdoor ambience? Trick question, they’re custom made. Susanne Thun has all the answers and keeps us begging for more!
“The most important tool for keeping things uncluttered when you have visitors,” Thun tells, “are baskets.” Her secret weapon when it comes to the slow creep of junk across her perfectly arranged interiors is to lasso up wandering belongings in chic wicker carry-alls. “We give visitors a basket with their name on it,” she describes of her ninja-like tidiness techniques, “and just like that, everything’s out of the way.”
While bamboo posate is perfect for the seaside, “it is not good for the mountains,” Thun tells us. She gets hers from Dabbene in Milan. “It took me a lifetime to find the perfect one,” she admits.
Chargers are always used to set the table, by the seaside she uses rattan.
“I always use a lace table cloth, it makes me feel Italian.” Thun sources her lace from Sicily and Puglia.
“Storage is key,” Thun tells us as she peels back her mattress to reveal under-the-bed storage with everything from hatboxes to headbands. Toss aside Thun’s custom-made Frette bedding and you’ll find the best boutique on the island.
Mercatores on Milan’s via Turati is where to find the best staff uniforms. “Normally they’re all grey. But in the summer, they wear dark blue bermudas with a white t shirt.”
Only Miele appliances for the kitchen. “It’s important because they’re German and last for your lifetime. I would never have anything else.”
Thun places decorative mini-stools in every room so visitors have somewhere to place their purses. “Never put bags or hats on the bed,” she tells us, “it’s an old Italian superstition.”
Even her behind-the-curtains master control room looks more haute boutique than junk drawer: rose pink boxes stacked with military precision hide everything unsightly thing: from long-forgotten phone chargers left behind by guests to mosquito spray and first aid kits. Everything is, of course, labelled accordingly.
Label EVERYTHING. Thun’s beloved label maker is incredibly busy. Even the pipes have been given this treatment, in case you need to know where the hot water to the downstairs bathroom leads.
Keep a rain corner. “We have a closet where we keep all the umbrellas, canes, plastic ponchos, coats and plastic weather proofing.”
Towels are organised by white, solid color and printed. Her favorites are from Tessitura Calabrese in Puglia.
She’s obsessed with linen maker Frette. Bed sheets linens, the filling of the bed cover and the cushions are from them. “I only use white, I’ve never used a colour in my life. I just don’t like coloured sheets,” she explains, “I do plain with a little stitched border. Mine and Matteo’s are light blue but the boys are beige.”
“I like to pack with flat nylon zip up LL Bean shirt holders. I have 40 of them at least. I have themes – Matteo, Susanne, Summer, etc.”
In the kitchen pantry, she keeps appliances in their original boxes. “It’s easier to find them that way,” she insists.
“A lot of Italian women don’t use the dryer. We just use it for spugna (towels) but not for clothes.”
“I love to have things properly ironed. I hate these people walking around all crumpled up.”
“I don’t eat meat, I don’t eat cheese. I have twice a week dinner cancelling day, when after three o’clock I just stop eating. Or I have a day where I only eat fruit — one day in the week should be a fruit day.”
“I never have sugar, I never take sugar in my tea or coffee.”
Make up: “I can’t do it. I’ve never done it. The only thing I love is Biologique Recherche cream, that’s it.”
“I take a lot of care of manicure and pedicure. I have to do it every week. I have someone in the mountains, someone in Milano and one in Capri who comes to the house, which for me is very very important.”
“I usually wear white nail polish, but the other week I tried Rouge Noir, I felt so chic. But I was less tanned, the less tanned you are the better Rouge Noir works.”
One thing never to be caught dead in after 45? “A bikini! I’m too old. I think it’s very important that at a certain age you don’t wear these things” Same goes for strapless tops, miniskirts and high heeled boots.
But, there’s an exception to every rule. “I don’t wear shorts, except for a pair of bermuda for the mountains. I wear them with mountain shoes and big knee socks when I go walking.”
Even if no one sees you, the workout outfit is everything. “Tights are for fast walking – they make me feel so sportive In the middle of nowhere! I wear three layers of t-shirts one over the other. A big one, a small one a large one. I mix the XL together with the XXL. I like oversized. On top I’ll wear a jacket. I really like that.”
Toes always stay covered in town. “I don’t like sandals in town. I wear a sneaker, driving shoe, mules or a loafer.”
Stay current with your swimsuits: “I like them low cut, I think it’s old fashioned to have them high cut.”
Buy bathing suits that you’ll even wear on land. Thun buys Marysia scalloped edge bathing suits and wears them in town as body suits.
In Capri, the definitive sandal is Da Costanzo.
Make sure you have enough sun hats to keep everyone shaded. Thun’s collection tops out at 35.
Keep drinks simple. “A very nice glass with Renoir and ice and that’s it. I love it, it’s called Piscine”
In the summer, keep your dishes simple: “Spaghetti al pomodoro, but with Linguine. I don’t like spaghetti actually.”
The seating plan is always important. “I always do seated, I have the table planned. I write it down. It’s very important, who you sit together with whom. You can’t do it otherwise.”
Invest in a stereo system. “I love music. The only problem is my husband doesn’t like music. And I love dancing and he can’t dance. So as soon as he’s out of the house I put the loud speaker on in the house and go wild. He just can’t stand music. When you go in my car its like a rapper’s car bow bow bow bow. I love that. I could be a groupie in the first row.”
You never know when your next party may be, so make sure to always keep a big box of Hawaiian flower necklaces for your guests to dress up in.
– Laura Todd