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Donna Marella: Agnelli Family

Marella Caracciolo di Castagneto.


Always guided by the relentless pursuit of beauty, whether it was hidden in places, in ways of doing, in those around her, in art or in design. 

She grew up in different countries, due to her father’s work as a diplomat, and developed a great ability in catching frames of all that surrounded her, like big wardrobes that smelling of white lavender, embroidered sheets, handmade knit pyjamas, nanny Russell reading her book and Gino the Gardener working.

A versatile aesthetic influenced by her grandmother’s manners directly imported from Illinois and by the dignified and loquacious Neapolitan aunties in their pearls and black dresses (her father’s family).


Marella’s mother, nails and lips red as wine and drawers filled up with silk scarfs.

Isn’t watching the best way to learn elegance?

We find those details imprinted in her, in the way she educated her sons and in the dedication to Agnelli’s empire.

Able to be part of that enchanted word and at the same time to keep her feet on the ground.

Forced and prearranged aesthetic truly wasn’t part of her, instead a sharp sense of observation and a pinch of irony were the main ingredients of her personality.

High school in Switzerland, graduated in Paris and then she flew back to Naples.

She later arrived in Rome, the city that wanted to barefoot dance on Glen Miller’s music and boogie-woogie looking forward and never back to the Second World War’s sadness.

She became part of the aristocracy she used to read about in books.

Through those days wearing canvas dresses from the shop in Piazza Ungheria and ice-creams from Giolitti in via Dataria her loyal mate was Josè del Drago.

Living on via Panama, a sense of surreality kept running through her back while experiencing life inside that magic bubble between Fontana sisters’ tailor shop, nylon tights and dinners at Colonna’s palace.

Progress’s lover.

During walks with her brother Carlo in Tirolo wearing Kneipp sandals (the model with two leather bands and thick sole), she used to wonder “imagine when we will be grown up.”

Full of expectations and organised in every single detail by her family.

In that plan the name of Gianni Agnelli was written in capitals.

The 19th of November 1953, once all the most relevant personalities were called, they celebrated their marriage.

Bridesmaids and groomsmen borrowed from Rattazzi, Brandolini d’Adda and Fürstenberg families.

At the Osthoffen castle an unbreakable bond took root.

Coming from two privileged slices of society, they represent a status symbol and a lifestyle envied and imitated.

Effortlessly walking their huskies in Villa Frescot (Turin), Marella with her fur and l’Avvocato with his double-breasted coat.

Always surrounded by people who could contribute with a precious value to their own world; made of summers at Forte dei Marmi, of the magnificent interiors and gardens at Villar Perosa, but also made of the deep pain of their family’s tragedies, never bowing down but instead facing them with an extraordinary strength.

She covered a woman’s role perfectly, standing next to him and never in his shadow.

Would you imagine how hard it must have been living as the wife of one of the greatest playboys of all time?

A lifestyle that had in its plan breakfast in Porto Ercole and a flight to Portofino for dinner.

Constantly under the spotlight.

The way she looked after her private life saved her.

It allowed her to keep her dignity intact.