Strength and Courage through the eyes and lens of Antonella Tignanelli
Inspired by The Leone Medallion, one of the first pieces founder, Rosh Mahtani, made for herself as a secret reminder to be strong in moments of self-doubt, The Leone Series documents strength and courage through the eyes and lens of people who inspire us.

Here, Barcelona-based chef and creative director, Antonella Tignanelli, talks to Rosh about self-compassion, her grandmother’s cooking and her subsequent love of food and the rituals surrounding it.

RM: I founded Alighieri when I was in a really dark time in my life - I looked to Dante Alighieri’s journey through the selva oscura for comfort and found so much strength in his story. The Leone Medallion was one of the first pieces I made, for myself, as a secret reminder to be strong in moments of self-doubt. How do you remind yourself to be strong in moments of self doubt? 

AT: I think being strong is equal to being the most connected you can be to your own truth. Only you can dictate what it takes in each situation to be strong. Some moments you need the literal strength, the courageous one we all imagine, and sometimes being strong is letting yourself be vulnerable and going through the pain. In any case you can only choose wisely when connected to yourself.

I remind myself how to be strong through my conviction of who I am, doing the things I love and giving myself the compassion that I need. Reassuring myself that it all led me to this place, and I love it here…

RM: At Alighieri, we create talismanic jewellery as armour for your everyday adventures - the ritual of arming yourself for the day is at the heart of what we love. Do you have any sentimental pieces in your jewellery box that bring you strength in your life?

AT: I have a ring that my father gave to my mother when she became pregnant with me and a medallion of the medaille miraculeuse that my grandmother used to have. I use them in special occasions when some of the subjects that I need strength are related to them.

I feel like I give these talismans so much meaning that they work in a metaphysical way and become very powerful for me.

RM: Food connects us with our cultural heritage through the celebration of ancient rituals and beliefs - much like jewellery. What is your earliest memory of food and the rituals surrounding it?

AT: My earliest memories of food were at my grandparents’ house. They hosted big parties once a month and invited all of their friends to come over, play cards and indulge in a feast that my grandmother started to cook three days in advance. The way she cooked, in such large quantities, with so much organization behind it, so much thought and energy put into it, gave me my first perception of a love for food and the rituals surrounding it.

Then I started traveling around the world and living these types of experiences in other people’s households, with their cultural context, and that really opened up my curiosity and vision of life.

RM: Dante Alighieri’s journey was not linear, he had so many ups and downs as he travelled through Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. Alighieri celebrates the beauty of human imperfection, and part of our mission is to acknowledge that life can sometimes be difficult - bringing people together through shared stories of vulnerability. Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your life at the moment?

AT: I lived through many. Right now I’m in the process of a sad and difficult break up with someone I love but can’t be with.

RM: Alighieri was born out of ritual, of me searching for something to get me through a dark time. I happened upon making things with wax, a practice I would do every night, into the early hours - the lighting of a candle  is still how each piece starts out and feels very sacred. What are the daily rituals that help you feel rooted and grounded in challenging times?

AT: I practice yoga to stay grounded and to come back to my body when I’m getting too much in my head. I try to take care of what I eat, oil my body, and surround myself with people that I’m aligned with and bring me happiness. When I go to sleep, I talk to myself and remind myself to be grateful because even if things look bad in my small vision of things, I know on a larger scale everything is happening for a greater good. I try to trust and surrender.

RM: If you could offer anybody in the world (past or present) strength and courage in the form of a Leone Medallion, who would it be? 

AT: My friend, Maria Baños.

Photography by Antonella Tignanelli