One of Tony Buccola’s happiest memories involves art, Italy, a bike and a cell phone. “I was riding my bicycle over the Ponte Vecchio talking to my parents, and under my arm was a 16th-century oil of the Crucifixion painted on copper,” says the owner of Antonio’s Bella Casa. “It was an ecstatic moment.” But it was all in a day’s work for the antiques dealer who happily traded hawking photocopiers for procuring and selling the likes of 19th-century walnut Florentine tables and 16th-century portraits of Roman senators. “I found a showroom space and two days later I was shopping in Florence,” says Buccola, whose Newport Beach locale has expanded from 700 square feet to 3,500 in a little over a decade. Drawn to Italian furnishings for their color, scale and incredible carvings—“They are not petite and sweet like French pieces,” he says—Buccola relishes every find. “I buy from my gut,” he says. “Too many people purchase according to price instead of looks. I tell my clients to buy what excites them.”
LX: I became interested in Italian furnishings when…
TB: My grandparents had all of their things shipped over from Italy. I just fell in love with the carvings on their furnishings.
LX: If someone can only buy one piece, it should be…
TB: A commode. A nice chest of drawers is so versatile and makes any room look incredible.
LX: What do you collect?
TB: Art—Italian Renaissance oils to French Impressionists to modern. I love Spanish abstract artist Antoni Tàpies and own seven of his pieces, and I also have several works by Ed Ruscha.
LX: Favorite hotel:
TB: The Westin Excelsior in Florence. It’s classic, old-world Italian with all the grandeur, elegance and grace that is Italy. I always get a room looking over the Arno River at the Santo Spirito church.
LX: Greatest indulgence:
TB: Every trip to Italy I buy something that makes my toes curl. Last trip I bought a stunning sculpture of the head of Athena in white Carrara marble. Always treat yourself; life is brief.