A conversation with the Italian entrepreneur, outdoorsman, and philanthropist.
When Remo Ruffini purchased the French skiwear brand Moncler in 2003, he moved the company’s headquarters to Milan, a short distance from his home on Lake Como. After a decade of building Moncler into a leading purveyor of luxury outerwear, Ruffini took the company public in 2013 in one of the largest IPOs in Italy’s history. Today, the billionaire chairman and CEO manages his business while striving for a satisfying work-life balance that includes skiing most winter weekends and cruising the Mediterranean in the summer. Passionately Italian, Ruffini recently took time out to share with Robb Report what he loves most about his native country.
What makes Italy so special?
Italy is a fantastic place because we have everything here. Everything is original and authentic, from the food and the people to the wine and culture. There is originality everywhere.
On the subject of Italian food and wine, what are some personal favorites?
I love the pizza in Naples and the food in Sicily, especially the pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, and mozzarella. I have two favorite regions for wine: Sicily, particularly [for its] Nero d’Avola, and the northeast of Italy, particularly Friuli–Venezia Giulia. They make a great Cabernet.
Why do you think the food, wine, cars—just about everything made in Italy—is so appealing?
[Everything] made in Italy is based on quality. In every field, from fashion to design, cars to yachts, and food to wine, excellence and expertise are key. I like the truth behind things, and usually the truth is in the simplicity. That is not a platitude. I often say that one of the most difficult things to make is an excellent and simple spaghetti with tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. It’s one of my favorite meals. It has to be perfectly calibrated and balanced with three ingredients only. That’s perfection.
Where do you like to travel in Italy?
I have a sailboat and love to sail around and swim off the Amalfi Coast and go to the Grotta Azzurra. I love the Mediterranean. We often go to Sardinia and Corsica.
You are also an avid skier.
I love the mountains. In winter, every weekend from the start of December to April, we go to our house in St. Moritz. We renovated a very old chalet. It is about 100 years old. From the outside it is the same old house, but we rebuilt everything inside and put in new technology.
What inspired you to buy the Moncler brand?
First of all, I love to ski, and [Moncler] was very popular when I was a kid of 14 or 15. I had just sold my company and wanted to find a brand with a strong heritage and DNA. It was like a dream come true. When I bought the company, it was unknown in the young urban generation.
Tell us about your work raising money for the AIDS foundation amfAR.
I have worked with amfAR for about five years. For our last project, Art for Love, we asked 32 famous photographers to interpret our signature jacket in very unique and artistic photography. We showed it at an exhibition at the New York Public Library. We sold the photographs through Paddle8, and the proceeds went to amfAR.
What is your ideal day?
An ideal day is either skiing or just being home in Lake Como. I travel a lot, and on the weekends it is nice to be home and just enjoy the lake, mountains, and good restaurants, and the people and lifestyle here.