Manfredi Gioacchini

We talked to a Photographer and Director who recently decided to make the move West, to the City of Angels: meet Italian-born yet now LA-based Manfredi Gioacchini.

Born in Rome but now working between Europe and the United States with a great passion for all the arts, Manfredi Gioacchini recently moved to Los Angeles from New York, attracted by California’s intrinsic connection to nature and the arts. Finding his form of expression in portraiture and documentary photography, he has over time used these creative methods to further study and understand the importance of documenting the actions of human beings in relation with nature. Discover all about him and his favourite spots in Los Angeles in our insider’s guide to the ‘the city that dreams are made of'.

How did you get to the point to know Los Angeles like the back of your hands? How have you found shifting to LA from NYC, where you’ve lived for such a long time?

I did move at first for a project that I was working which was capturing the art scene of Los Angeles which is leaving a golden age. The main difference between the two cities are of course the weather and the space you can get with a normal rent, but what I like the most about LA as a fitness lover is the nature and the always blooming creative scene. What I love the most about living in California is that in some ways it is a bit like living in Europe, being so close to nature, you can go for hikes in the morning in between the hill tops and then work or viceversa. The atmosphere is much more relaxed in comparison to New York where everyone is rushing to get on the subway.

Tell us about the first time you visited LA - what struck you the most? What were the first places you visited given you’re passionate about art, architecture and photography?

I do have a relationship with LACMA since they acquired my works and my publication from the series “Portraits of Artists”, so I cannot say clearly which one is the best, but I must say that the works of Turrell, Serra and Heizer at LACMA are really unique. I do like MoCA ( some of the most beautiful exhibitions are organised here). We must add the two Gettys, the villa and the museum; the Marciano Foundation with a collection of artists from this century… Most likely the biggest collection in the western world. Parker Gallery, Kordansky Gallery, Gagosian, Hauser and Wirth are worth the visit.

Can you recommend some of the best stays in town?

If you want to have a true old Hollywood experience, one should stay at the Chateau Mormont and the Sunset. I also love The Petite Hermitage or The Rose or The Erwin…These are some of the places where I stayed in the past when visiting the city of Angels.

What are some of your favourite places where one should go have a bite?

There are two food trends in Los Angeles at the moment, one is inspired by European food, so it is full of restaurants which reinterpret French and Italian food, for example, La Poubelle, or in alternative, since veganism is very big at the moment, it is also full of amazing vegan friendly restaurants. I became a vegan while living in California and often go to Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre, Glowing Juices in Echo Park. I also love Cafe Stella in Silverlake, as I literally go there almost every evening, Gjusta and Gjelina in Venice are also super. Musso and Frank is an old time favorite. Bulletproof Coffee is great for quick coffees in the Art district.

And the best drinks? We know the Californian sunsets are very well-known around the world.

You should definitely head to Chateau Mormont for drinks, Sunset Tower or Cafe Stella, Petite Hermitage. I love hanging out at these places especially because you’ll never know who you’ll end up meeting sitting across from you at a table. Will it be De Niro or Di Caprio? After all, these are the places where history was written and where still today some of the most magical meetings end up happening.

Where do you usually shop?

There are so many places where one could shop in LA, but I usually love shopping at the Pasadena market and look for inspiration at bookshops such as Art Catalogues and Hennessey + Ingalls. Interested in pottery? Then you should also pay a visit to Peter Shire’s studio, he sells LA’s most beautiful ceramics and his studio is dreamy.

Can you suggest a list of places one should go pay a visit in the perfect old Hollywood style?

It really depends if you’re visiting or live in town. Since LA in contrast to New York or Europe is housed on hills, its neighbourhoods are much more spread out. Today’s cool kids usually hang out in the Mount Washington neighbourhood. Indie film fans may want to take a tour of West Hollywood, especially if they’ll want to spot Sofia Coppola. In contrast, Silver Lake is where Drive was filmed, and where you’ll also probably find Ryan Gosling. Again, film buffs will also love Hollywood Forever for a true 1950s drive in experience (in reality it is a cemetery, but it's a great spot for concerts and movies).

Design wise, LA is known for some of its most beautiful houses hidden in its hills (e.g. Eames House), can you recommend any other houses we should definitely pay a visit to?

Neutra’s houses in Silver lake are my favorite, in fact, I lived around them for a few years. Shiller’s house in Hollywood is incredible, as well as FL Wright’s villa. If you manage to have access and know how to play tennis, then you should definitely pay a visit to James Goldstein’s house.

Palm Springs is one of THE destinations close by. Tell us your routine and your fave spots there.

My all time favorite breakfast spot is in Palm Springs, Cheeky’s. I usually sleep at le Parker, but I recommend booking an AirBnB, as you’ll find some of the most beautiful 60’s designed looking houses are here.

Any secret surroundings where should one go to unwind in nature near LA?

The great thing about LA is the fact that you can literally take a car and end up in marvellous surrounding nature. For hikes, I suggest visiting Lauren Canyon and the Valley above Mount Washington. Griffith Park as well, especially if you also want to pay a visit to the Griffith Observatory, a favourite location amongst filmmakers and notable as the signature location for 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause, the movie starring James Dean.
For the rest, it really depends how far you want to go. I’m not a great surfer, but at the beginning I used to go to Huntington Beach quite a lot. Newport is great for surf but they’ll only let you surf if you’re a good surfer or a local. In Newport, there’s a great place called Bear Flag, as they have the best Mahi mahi tacos in California. Of course, if you want to head to a great beach then you should also head to Venice beach, Malibu and Santa Monica. If instead you’re the type of person who loves retreating in between the mountains and is also looking for a New Age experience you should head to Ojai. I love it there. Ojai is set in a valley in the Topatopa Mountains, and the city has a village-like center dotted with art galleries and New Age shops. But since the desert is also so close to LA, then I suggest paying a visit to Hot Springs and the Canyons.

California on the road, any particular must dos?

The US 1 is one of the most beautiful roads in the world (comparable with Cape Town good Hope or the Amalfi Coast)… Anyway as I mentioned before, I would go to desert or the area near Nevada and Vegas, which means: leaving LA, having breakfast in Palms Springs, then heading to Joshua tree national park, there are many AirBnbs where you can stay (Ruspoli has one and it’s great), on the way to Vegas stopping by the Mojave Desert to take a hike or to take some pictures. On the way back from Vegas, it is worth stopping by the Death Valley bordering the Mojave desert. If you have more time then you should definitely go to Amangiri in Utah, from there you can see the Antilope Canyon, and the road is marvellous.