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the vip lounge | with Mario Russo

The VIP Lounge with Mario Russo

Prior to moving to Fall River with his family when he was 12 years old, Mario Russo lived in Formia, a coastal city in Italy. Now the owner of Salon Mario Russo on Newbury Street (and a newer salon at Twenty Two Liberty in the Seaport District), he lives with his husband, Frank Gilligan, in their homes in the Back Bay and in Miami, but he loves to travel to Italy when he can because of the memories it holds and its culture. We caught up with Russo, 57, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I’ve always had a special connection to Italy because I was born there. Every time I visit, it brings back old memories. Most importantly, Italy is also a mecca of my three passions: food, fashion, and art.


Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Whenever I travel to Italy, I never leave without trying a new wine or eating a classic Italian dish with white truffles.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? Africa. I would love to go on a safari and explore South Africa.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? When traveling, I always bring my Illumai travel kit; hotel products aren’t always the best.

Aisle or window? Always an aisle seat. I like to be mobile when I’m on a flight and not disturb other people. I like having one side of me that’s open; that way I don’t feel claustrophobic. Also, sitting on the aisle, I’m the first one out.

Favorite childhood travel memory? My favorite childhood memory is my first trip to Capri, Italy. It was there I met my American cousins for the first time. It was a trip I will never forget.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? No matter where I travel, you will find me at an art gallery or museum. I love to get a feel for the local art scene.


Best travel tip? Pack lightly. I do not like checking my baggage. I want to get in and out of airports as quickly as possible. Also, try to pick a color palette so everything will go with everything.