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Monica Iotti: The Art of Saper Vivere

Step into a world of refinement and elegance with the timeless principles of Galateo,

guiding you through the art of conversation and table manners to elevate every social interaction.


By JENNIFER ALMSLEIGH

February, 2024





In the world of social etiquette, contemporary society often falls short when compared to the refined manners of the Renaissance. While some specific customs and manners may have evolved (for better or for worse) over time, the fundamental principles of respect, consideration for others, and gracious behavior remain timeless, and have recently made a comeback.


With more than 200,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok, Etiquette influencer and Fashion/Interior Designer Iotti seeks to empower her global audience by imparting the timeless wisdom of Bon Ton and Galateo, reviving these ancient arts.


“Bon Ton is the term used to indicate polite manners and behaviors applied naturally,” Iotti clarifies. “It is also referred to as ‘savoir vivre,’ or ‘saper vivere,’ which means knowing how to live. On the other hand, Galateo refers to a set of written norms and rules.”


“From childhood, I was raised with strict rules and discipline. My parents were very elegant people who taught me from an early age how to behave at the table, how to eat, be punctual, be tidy, be wellgroomed and well-dressed, but above all, be polite,” she shares. “At home, we had an encyclopedia that I immediately became fascinated with. It illustrated the main rules of etiquette and good behavior through little scenarios.


Needless to say, from that moment on, my passion for this world never ended.” For Iotti, etiquette transcends mere interest; it is an integral part of her identity. “I think it has always been a part of me more than a passion. I could never stand to see people in disarray, people who didn’t know how to behave at the table, or rude people,” she asserts. “So I started reading everything related to elegance, Bon Ton, and etiquette for pleasure. I would then apply the rules I had just learned with my little friends through small tea parties.” In this captivating dialogue, Iotti provides a glimpse into the profound impact of upbringing on one’s affinity for etiquette and the enduring allure of Bon Ton.


BON TON IS ALSO REFERRED TO AS “SAVOIR VIVRE,” OR “SAPER VIVERE” WHICH MEANS KNOWING HOW TO LIVE.


One must not be content to do things well, but must also aim to do them gracefully.


— Giovanni Della Casa, 16th century poet, diplomat and writer on etiquette and society in this book “Galateo”






 

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Q&A


HOW DOES THE PRACTICE OF BON TON BENEFIT INDIVIDUALS AND SET THEM APART FROM THE PREVAILING LACK OF MANNERS AND CONSIDERATION IN SOCIETY?


M.I: Bon Ton is extremely important today. It is a daily luxury, a level of attention we give to ourselves and others. Being polite, kind, and mindful of certain behaviors makes us better individuals and sets us apart from the masses and the prevalent lack of manners and consideration towards others in today’s society. However, Bon Ton does not exclude anyone. It is a luxury that anyone can acquire, and it is never too late to do so.


DESPITE ADVOCATING FOR EQUALITY, WHY DO CERTAIN GESTURES OF CHIVALRY, SUCH AS OPENING A CAR DOOR OR PULLING OUT A CHAIR, STILL BRING PLEASURE TO EVEN THE MOST INDEPENDENT WOMEN?


M.I: Education, above all, never goes out of style. Kindness, courtesy, punctuality, good posture, and chivalry, although the latter is now endangered, are timeless. Even though many women advocate for equality and claim not to need the flattery of a man, I can assure you that the gesture of a man opening the car door for you or pulling out your chair to help you sit down still brings great pleasure, even to the most emancipated lady.


WHAT WAY DOES KINDNESS POSSESS POWER, ESPECIALLY TODAY?


M.I: The power of kindness is a very strong power, especially in this era of arrogance. A kind person disarms you. The power lies in being at peace with oneself.


WHAT DOES ETIQUETTE VALUE AND APPRECIATES IN TERMS OF FASHION AND PERSONAL STYLE?


M.I: Galateo does not embrace the new, it does not favor what is too trendy, and it does not appreciate the display of designer labels. Galateo does not follow trends. Instead, it appreciates an old but well-worn fine leather bag, a little black dress adorned with a unique vintage brooch, an old English tweed blazer, a cashmere sweater, a majestic evening gown, a precious cigar box, or a superb aged wine or whisky. In short, etiquette loves originality, quality, elegance, and uniqueness.


The power of kindness is a very strong power, especially in this era of arrogance. A kind person disarms you. The power lies in “ being at peace with oneself.


ETIQUETTE RULES


Venture into elegance with Monica’s top etiquette rules for esteemed guests and gracious hosts to transform any gathering into an evening of refinement and sophistication.


Monica’s deep passion for etiquette echos through her elegant table settings. Visit www.tahble.com to discover Monica’s signature Made in Italy tableware collections.

Rules for the Host


  1. Remember that THE GUEST IS SACRED. Make your guests comfortable by introducing those who do not know each other first.

  2.  In terms of dress code, always be one step below the guests (elegant dress, long or short depending on the formality of the dinner, but always one step less).

  3. Always start with an APERITIF while waiting for all the diners to arrive.

  4. If a guest’s delay exceeds 30 minutes, you are required to invite your already arrived guests to sit at the table without waiting for the latecomer.

  5. Never bring the missed courses to the latecomer.

  6. Try to talk to and include the most isolated person.

  7. Before your guests are seated at the table, always remember to pour WATER into the glasses in advance (of course, natural water).

  8. NEVER talk about politics, religion, or ethnicities at the table.

  9. It is always the hostess who decides when to go to the table.

  10. The hostess begins to eat first, after which all the guests will follow.

  11. Never finish the meal before your guests.

  12. Pay attention to the farewell. After a certain time, no more wine or liqueurs are offered, only water and herbal teas, which means it’s TIME TO SAY GOODBYE.

  13. Coffee and liqueurs are always served in the LIVING ROOM, never at the table.


Rules for the Guest


  1. Always bring a GIFT to the host.

  2. But, IT IS FORBIDDEN to bring bouquets of flowers! Instead, have the flowers delivered in the afternoon or the following day, always accompanied by a handwritten THANK-YOU note.

  3. NEVER sit at the table before the hostess.

  4. PUNCTUALITY ALWAYS or a courteous delay (maximum 10/15 minutes). If the delay exceeds the maximum tolerated time, you are obliged to notify and explain.

  5. The latecomer will sit down and continue the meal from the moment of their arrival.

  6. Never ask for salt.

  7. Never get up to smoke.



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