The Italian model and actress on her most exciting role yet – motherhood
“I’ve never felt so at home as here,” says Eva Riccobono, sinking back into a deep, cream couch in her South-West London home. It’s easy to see why. Filled with piles of books, vases of fresh cut blooms and bright artworks, the Italian model and actress, and her partner Matteo Ceccarini, have created an inviting space – the perfect family home in fact. Which is fitting, as the couple have just welcomed their first child together, Leo. Now four weeks old, he is currently curled up into a tiny ball, dozing on his mother’s shoulder.
In Italy Riccobono and Ceccarini, a successful DJ and sound designer, are celebrity figures, constantly trailed by paparazzi. Here in London, they have been able to reclaim a sense of anonymity. “I was able to enjoy my pregnancy quietly. I could walk around the streets – it was so easy, no one cared,” says Riccobono.
Born and raised in Palermo, Riccobono first rose to fame as a model, walking the runway for the likes of Chanel, Dior and Valentino. She was discovered by photographer Bruce Weber, when he was shooting on location in her native Sicily, but her big break came when she met designers Dolce & Gabbana while holidaying on the Italian island Panerea. The pair invited Riccobono to their house at Stromboli but a freak storm struck and she was stranded for two days. Riccobono must have been a perfect house guest as the duo promptly booked her for an exclusive the next season.
“I think it was destiny, because in a way it was so crazy. Even my agent couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. However Riccobono says she never planned to be a model. “It was just an amazing way to make money, travel, and to meet people. It was actually my dream to become an actress,” she reveals. “But I was too afraid to start.” Luck came calling yet again when a well-known director visited her agency for a casting. That initial screen test led to a role in popular Italian comedy Grande, Grosso e Verdone, and she has since gone on to carve out a successful acting career.
Now Riccobono has a new role. And her delight in becoming a mother is palpable. “You realise really how to start to love someone. It’s something very special,” she says. Riccobono loved being pregnant, even posing naked at five months for a story in Italian Vanity Fair. She also found her wardrobe came into its own. “I like really short dresses, but very oversized generally, so I wore them when I was pregnant and they were very fitted and a little more sexy because I had more shape.” Her willowy figure already looks back to runway-ready shape but she says she misses being pregnant. “I sometimes look at myself and think I looked better before [with a bump]!”
In Her Words
Hide the bump or show off the bump?
Show it off. I was really proud, I wanted to show everyone, I was even pulling up my t-shirt sometimes, like ‘Look I’m pregnant.’
Nine long months or nine joyous months?
Nine joyous months. I was very, very lucky and I never had a problem.
Are you a go-home-and-collapse-on-the-sofa pregnant woman, or a hyperactive-yoga-superbusy pregnant woman? (Or both?)
Hyperactive. I was going out with friends, having dinner, going to shows, staying up until 3am. I actually I had more energy.
What did you miss most when you were pregnant?
Coffee! I’m Italian so we love espresso in the morning. I also missed prosciutto di parma. The first day I had my baby, I went out looking for it, which is a little bit difficult in London - but I found it.
What couldn’t you do without?
The sensation of having my baby inside me, - the feeling that you can protect him 24 hours a day. Sometimes I would like to put him back inside again like a kangaroo!
Most surprising pregnancy fact?
The food. I was always a bit too judgmental and thought pregnant women were just being paranoid. And then I realised it was true and a totally different world.
Top tip for other pregnant women?
It’s an excuse to take care of yourself. I really was on vacation, I took this period of nine months and said ‘I’m going to take care of him and take care of me.’ Matteo was like ‘Oh you have to go back for massage today?’ And I was like ‘But it’s not just for me, it’s for him - he has to relax. (laughs)
Boy. It was actually my dream to have a boy because I was born into a family of girls and my dream was to be a boy when I was young.
If your partner could carry the baby, would you let him?
No, no, no. I would do it. Women are more sensible about these things.
Photography by Michelle Bobb-Parris