The first time that Nicoletta Negrini was in Spain was in 1986. She was in her early twenties and she came as Sophia Loren in that Mario Monicelli movie called Mortadella, with a huge one under her arm. Literally. “But with mortadella with double L, Italian style,” she recalls. The mission entrusted to him by her father, founder of the Negrini sausage factory together with her grandfather in 1955, was to land in the Spanish market. “I had just graduated cum laude in Economics and Commerce and my father decided that I was the right person to open this market: I really liked spending the summer in the Balearic Islands and I knew four words of Spanish”, she recalls with a laugh. What she found was a complete ignorance of the gastronomy of her country. “There was only one Italian restaurant in all of Madrid,” she recalls. “For the Spanish, the mortadella was a pink sausage with many colourings. Grease painted pink!”
Nicoletta Negrini, in the kitchen, the nerve center of the house, prepares an appetizer with some of the delicacies of the products from her line of Italian sausages. Kartell chairs.In the hall, three of Negrini’s great passions. The classic Fornasetti print. One of the mortadella slicers that he collects with a metal plate, designed by Sapey, which alludes to the cold meat in question. The rug, designed by Teresa Sapey, with a tortellini motif.
It cost him quite a bit to introduce the product and do pedagogy. She remembers that, in those early days trying to publicize her culinary origins, they called her, horrified, from a prestigious restaurant: they had received a bag with something floating. It was mozzarella, of course, but at that time around here it had only been seen at the bar. To try to break so much prejudice, Negrini came up with the happy idea for which she is internationally recognized today: “It was not understood that our mortadella cost four or five times more than any other. But it is that it is made with lean pork! It is of the highest quality! So I decided to put truffle in it. No one would spoil a product as expensive as truffles if it weren’t for another equally exquisite product”. The result worked so well that today Nicoletta Negrini is considered the unofficial ambassador of Italy in Spain. “The Italian ambassador always tells me that the real diplomat is me, that they last four years, but that I stay.”
The main bedroom shows the tones that prevail in the house: white and ocher, with some concession to blue.Detail of the dining room, with a Chinese cabinet bought in the Madrid flea market converted into a bar cabinet. On it, a white Sicilian ceramic pineapple that is an icon of good luck in Italy. The table and lamp are by Kartell.
Negrini settled permanently in Madrid at the end of the nineties. Along the way he has opened the Academia del Gusto, an Italian cooking school with a gourmet shop, the watchword of all things Italian in Madrid. And, for a couple of years, she has lived in this house, opposite the Retiro, where she is a neighbor (door to door) of her close friend, the Italian architect and interior designer Teresa Sapey, ultimately responsible for Nicoletta moving from her apartment on Gran Vía. “She wanted a penthouse with a terrace, but I traded the terrace for the views,” says Sapey. “Having the Retreat almost as a private garden is priceless. And from here, we enjoy the symphony of colors of the changing seasons”. The interior design project was carried out by the two friends. Negrini wanted a timeless house, unpretentious, elegant and with natural colours. But, above all, a house that transmitted peace and that spoke of its history. That’s why the rugs have tortellini prints or mamma’s recipe. For this reason, one of the works that presides over the room, by José María Sicilia, tells of the manufacturing process of mortadella. For this reason, one of the pieces that receive the visitor is an impressive sausage slicer. “I collect them,” confesses the businesswoman. But its use is not merely ornamental. If there is something that this Italian born in Bologna likes, it is receiving at home, cooking for friends and using the slicer!
In the kitchen, vintage Fornasetti dishes from the hand-painted pizza line. “They are very difficult to find,” says Nicoletta Negrini. “I located them in an antiques dealer in Arezzo.”Negrini, before a work of 12 plates that make up Fornasetti’s Eva.Detail of one of the bathrooms in the house, with simplicity and black and white as hallmarks. On the walls, works by the artist Rupert Shrive.
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