When two Italians find love by chance in New York City, that’s amore.
Italians do romance right. From the food to the music to the utterly charming towns (if we could all be Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun…), the boot-shaped country has mastered la dolce vita. So, when two natives serendipitously find love in a city thousands of miles away from home, we’re guilty of swooning. Hard.
Such is the love story of photographer Dario Catellani and stylist Vittoria Cerciello. Back in 2011, the two encountered each other by chance at a dinner with mutual friends at Cafe Select, a casual European restaurant in New York’s Soho neighborhood. “We both moved to New York around the same time in 2010, but had never crossed paths before that night,” Catellani says.
What started as a group hang led to a museum date, and eventually, a ring—albeit a modest-sized one. For the couple’s sixth anniversary, Catellani gave his wife an upgrade by gifting her a stunning shell-shaped vintage ring with two interlocking diamonds, a style that just so happens to be named one of the Natural Diamond Council’s biggest holiday trends.
Now, a decade after they first met, the couple is wholly intertwined in work and life, collaborating on creative projects and co-parenting their daughter, Olivia. “We have no filter with each other,” Catellani adds. “We share a similar aesthetic, so the work we create together feels very organic and consistent.” Now that’s amore.
Below, get the full account from the lovebirds themselves.
What did you do on your first date?
Dario Catellani: We went to Daidō Moriyama’s printing show at the Aperture Foundation in Chelsea. It was a recreation of his 1974 performance of the same name, where visitors found the photographer stationed at a photocopy machine duplicating his prints. Those photocopied sheets were then assembled and staple-bound with a silk-screened cover, and ultimately printed in the gallery space during the performance.
Who said “I love you” first?
DC: Probably Vittoria, but we don’t really remember, to be honest. [Laughs.]
Tell us your proposal story.
DC: I wanted to propose in a normal moment, inside our routine that felt so special to me. We were living in Soho at the time, and we used to have breakfast together at this little place called Local almost every day. I was planning to propose there, sitting outside, but then a person we know started talking to us and interrupted the flow. Then, on the way back, we sat on the steps next to our building entrance. I found my courage and was about to propose when a garbage truck started loudly backing up in front of us… I could not wait anymore, so I stopped her just before entering our building and proposed down on one knee.
Candy, iron and wood are typical sixth anniversary gifts. Why a ring?
Vittoria: When Dario proposed, we were assistants and didn’t have much money. Our engagement ring is beautiful, but the diamond is quite small. Dario promised me that one day, when he could afford it, he would get me big diamonds. And there we go!
Who chose the ring? Tell us about it!
VC: Dario! All our presents are always surprises. We choose what we gift to the other!
Why did you decide on a vintage style?
DC: I’ve always loved vintage design in jewelry. I’ve always noticed it on older Italian women, and I thought it looked so good. It made me curious about the stories behind them. I liked the idea of giving a very nice diamond, but with the additional value of the obsessive study of the forms and design behind the mounting. This one looked very contemporary and modern in its shape, but with the additional heritage of expert artisanal labor that must have been behind the realization of this ring.
It’s stunning. Did you give each other anything else besides the ring?
Vittoria Cerciello: Dario got me the ring and, as he does every year, a terracotta pomegranate from Santa Maria Novella. We group them together and watch them grow in number every year. I got him a weekend in Lake Como.
How else did you celebrate?
DC: We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental [in Lake Como]. It was a great way to enjoy a weekend escape from the city during the pandemic.
What are your favorite Italian dishes?
VC: Spaghetti alle vongole. It’s the typical dish from Napoli, where I was born and raised.
DC: Pasta alla carbonara. It has nothing to do with my hometown of Parma, but it was the very first thing I learned to cook as a kid. My mother refused to cook it for me because she thought it was too unhealthy and I was too obsessed with it.
Dario, what’s the best photo you’ve ever taken of Vittoria?
DC: It’s difficult to choose just one, but probably one of the photos I took during the summer of 2017. More specifically, in Favignana. Vittoria was five months pregnant with our daughter, Olivia, and it was showing slightly. I love everything about those photos of Vittoria.
Vittoria, do you ever try to dress Dario?
VC: Dario is very specific with his style—he loves Scandinavian and Japanese brands with an outdoor kick to them. I like his personal style and would never change it. And, honestly, I don’t think he would ever let someone else style him.
What’s the biggest lesson you both learned in 2020?
DC: The great value of family and the fragility of life. Enjoy every second of it! We are all drops in the same ocean—we can be strong together.
VC: To be compassionate to each other.