Style & Culture

How I Travel: Stanley Tucci Always Wears a Suit Jacket to Fly

We peek into the airport routines and bizarre quirks of the world's most well-traveled people.
Stanley Tucci

The actor Stanley Tucci lives in England and has a CNN show, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, about exploring the country—and it seems that finally, the European approach to leisure might be sinking in. “There is a very distinctly different mindset about when to stop working and take a little time for yourself and to be with your family or friends. Almost 50 percent of vacation time that is given to Americans goes unused,” says Tucci. “I don't know why, but to me embracing that wonderful, more European way of life is pretty great. You need that time in the afternoon to relax.”

Condé Nast Traveler spoke with Tucci, who’s partnering with S.Pellegrino for their campaign urging folks to summer like an Italian (that is, by taking a whole month off), to discuss the area of Italy he could never tire of, in-flight champagne, and why his vacation rentals require a high-quality kitchen.

How he spends flight time:

I usually watch movies, because I'm very bad about sitting down and watching movies during my actual life. I just watched a really high-octane action movie, the James Bond movie again, flying to Montreal. I loved it. It's just fantastic. Coming back from Atlanta, I watched three documentaries, [including ones] on Julia Child, and on Shane MacGowan—the lead singer of the Pogues.

His travel pet peeves:

The way that people dress. I mean, everybody's dressed like a nine year old. And you think, but you're not nine years old! You're a person. Put a shirt on, wear a pair of shoes. Why do you have to wear sweats? Even my children, my older children—I’m like, "You can't dress like that on a plane." But that's a very old fashioned way of thinking. You always got dressed up to travel. I still do. I'll sometimes just wear a suit on a plane. I've become a little less severe as I've gotten older, but I will always have a jacket.

His memory of his first first-class flight:

The first time I rode in first class, I was doing a television job and I think I must've flown to Las Vegas. It was in the 1980s and I just couldn't believe it. My seat was bigger than my apartment. It was amazing. You always got champagne and caviar and the little egg chopped up. It was really, really elegant.

His advice for traveling through Italy this summer:

Find a place that's more off the beaten track. Go to Rome for a little bit and then find a place outside [of the city]—get an Airbnb or a rental, a villa or something like that, or a little hotel. In Italy now, all these agriturismos are really quite wonderful and affordable. I think that's a really nice way for people to explore Italy.

The places in Italy he still has yet to see:

I don't think I've ever been to Abruzzo. I'm going to Sardinia, where I've been once before, and Liguria to film those two regions starting next week. We won't have done every single region. It's too much to do, but we'll have done a total of about 13 or 15 of them. There are still so many different cities in Italy that I want to visit that I haven't ever been to.

His favorite hotels in the world:

I love the Mandarin Hotels. They're so well-appointed. The food is really good. The services, it's impeccable. Impeccable!

His priorities when planning a vacation:

I really like to go out and explore, but I also need that time to decompress. If we're renting a house, it has to have a good kitchen so we can cook. It has to have a lot of dining space, preferably an outdoor oven, too. But within close driving distance or preferably walking distance to restaurants, so you can break it up. We've been to the Maldives a few times; I really love them, but I start to get a little antsy. So I find myself hoping to insinuate myself into the kitchen to learn some more. I like to keep active.

An underrated Italian destination he thinks more Americans should see:

Sardinia, because I think it's so unusual. It's Italy, but it's also not Italy. There's so many different influences there, and you have the fancier part of the Costa Smeralda, where I've never been. You have the other coast, which is much more affordable. I'm very curious to explore it again, because the interior of Sardinia is supposed to be amazing.

A place he could go to a million times and not be sick of it:

Lake Como. It’s so pretty in the Alps. I like the northern climbs more than just the southern. Lake Como has everything you want. I haven't been to the other lakes, either—Garda or Lago Maggiore. I've only been to Lake Como maybe three, four times. I'm completely in love with it. But by all accounts, they're all equally as beautiful. Food is amazing, and the topography is just staggeringly beautiful. The fact that you're sitting there in the summer on the shores of the lake and you're looking up at the Alps in the distance. You get in your car and drive 40 minutes and you're in Switzerland. I'm always willing to go there.