For Flore Pilzer, it all began on the sunny island of St Barths, where she was born and raised. So it makes a lot of sense that she would go on seeking other exclusive paradise islands on her little time off. Once an islander, always an islander! Flore is a serial multi-tasker and entrepreneur: she is a mother, has a full-time job in digital publishing, started and ran a catering business while working in Paris, and opened a luxury property on Lake Como, Villa Làrio. The list goes on.
After a recent trip to Ponza – a secret island south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea – we caught up with her to chat about her career and entrepreneurial journey, Italian summers, wearing many hats, and her love of Ponza, where the real Italians vacation.
Tell us about St Barths. What was it like growing up there? How did it shape your character?
To say it was an easy childhood would be an understatement. When afternoon play time is at the beach and birthday parties are poolside, growing up doesn't get much better than that! But apart from the sunny and beach perks, the main thing was growing up in a safe place. And growing up with a strong sense of security lays fertile grounds to focus on one's self confidence. My upbringing was key in allowing me to take a positive approach to pretty much everything that comes my way.
You opened your own catering business, Kook, while working in Paris in 2005. Was that your first entrepreneurial venture? What was it like?
Yes, it was my first go at it. But to be honest, it almost came as a surprise: Sunday brunch with a girlfriend at Place des Vosges talking about our love of food, and realizing that the catering industry was so disconnected to the bistrot trend most restaurants were diving into at the time. A month later, we created Kook and invited two hundred friends to celebrate with food and cocktails. We were so lighthearted about it! Today, my then-partner and girlfriend has turned it into one of the tastiest and edgiest catering companies in Paris, adding an Italian epicerie and a restaurant, Le Petit Capri Bazar. I'm so proud of this adventure and what Kook has grown into.
How did you get into hospitality? We hear Villa Làrio is the stuff dreams are made of... Tell us a bit about the journey there.
My parents got into hospitality when I was a child, so I grew up in the hotel's kitchen, doing summer jobs as a waitress, receptionist, and more. This Lake Como adventure with a son about the same age I was then is like jumping back in time. Hospitality has changed significantly in the past year, and luxury properties like Villa Làrio address these new client expectations. It was important to us to design a place that would feel like a home, small and private enough to feel intimate, but with high-end standards of services and amenities. We also wanted to offer guests a taste of life on the lake – from taking a riva to head anywhere on the lake, to enjoying an aperitivo on the pier, or simply giving them a taste of real Italian food. We actually decided to grow our own tomatoes, so not only can guests pick their own, but they can also do a burrata and olive oil tasting with the chef! Lake Como is a must-see destination for anyone planning a tour of northern Italy.
At Golden Edit, we're madly in love with Italian summers. What is so special about Ponza?
Ponza is very hard to reach, so you have to deserve it. It means that only those who truly want to get there make it there. Because it is so secluded, Ponza has stayed simple. It's not a place to show off – and I love that! I discovered this place seven years ago while sailing in the region, and it was love at first sight. I remember waking up and discovering the colorful port and a dozen tiny boats sailing away for the day. We've been going every summer since then – it's our family time and part of our holiday ritual. I wouldn't change it for a thing!
What is the best way to get around Ponza? Best beaches?
Cars are pretty much banned from the island, so I would definitely recommend staying near the main port, so you can get anywhere by foot. But really, it's all about renting small boats and going for a slow paced journey around the island, and to the islands around, over and over again during your stay. Since it is a very rocky island, expect cliffs and small coves that you can access via boat. The best places to check out are Palmarola for its pristine waters, Chiaia di Luna for its vertiginous cliffs, and Zannone for its off-the-beaten-track scenery.
Your favorite restaurant? What do you order?
It depends on the time of the day! For a quick drink when coming back to the port after a day at sea, Spaccio Birra is the place to grab some fish fritto in the middle of the hustle of the port's life. For a romantic dinner, go to Eea and order fresh fish from the fishermen. For one last drink, head to the lounge bar at the Chiaia di Luna hotel.
Without giving away all your secrets, can you share with us one secret place you've discovered?
It would be Cala Felce, with its golden cliffs, small beach, and transparent water. Perfect spot for a dip in the cool blue waters!
Best place to rent a motor boat for the day to explore the coves around the island?
There's only one place to go: Coco Noleggio. We have been renting our boat there since day one. They do valet parking with their boats, so all you have to do is get on board and enjoy the day!
Best sunset aperitivo?
Last year, there was this tiny pop-up bar overlooking the Chiaia di Luna bay. It didn't even have a name, and I'm not sure it is still there but it definitely had some nice beach vibes to it, with the sun setting right in front.
On Italian summers... If you had to share your recipe for a perfect day?
Some shade on the boat on a hot day, a dive into fresh water, a good book, a watermelon granite, and a game of scrabble with my son. And perhaps end it with a dinner under the stars.
We hear you're an amazing cook. What dish summarizes summer in your opinion?
In Italy, the fruits and veggies are sun-soaked in the summer and the raw products are of amazing quality, so there's no need for much cooking. While in Ponza, we typically take a rustic picnic on board – burrata, tomatoes, foccacia, fresh figs, and an ice cold bottle of Pinot Grigio – it makes for the perfect summer lunch!
On happiness, overall...
Being able to perceive the positive side of things, always, and to give it the greater place.