Sara Bellinato heads up the marketing at Story of Home. Her love of art and culture, and her social media expertise, make her a potent part of our family. Frequent visitors from her home in Northern Italy have led to Sara to explore London in greater detail than many Londoners ever do. Tales of the City met up with her to find out more about her most beloved haunts.

Sara Bellinato, Story of Home.

The journey from Friuli to London.

Growing up in the 90s, for me London was the Mecca for music and pop culture and so I always dreamt about moving here. I studied art at school in Northern Italy and we looked at Tate Modern and Cool Britannia and thought everything was happening in London. Years later, when my partner was offered a job here, the dream became reality.

Sara’s role at Story of Home.

I am trained in social media marketing and as a company we are always trying to find a way to communicate and tell stories in a creative way that is true to us. Obviously, I have a visually rich palette to work with because we only deal with beautiful homes, but we also have a firm resolve to avoid the dull white noise that blankets much of social media.

As a London estate agent selling and renting design led homes, I see our social media marketing as being about finding kindred spirits. Mathew and Stuart have faith in this being how you find your people and your people find you. What truly resonates with me about Story of Home is our focus on customers. Beautiful homes are not what makes us unique. What’s unique is how we go about things.

The tour guide.

Over the years, since I moved here, many friends and family have come to visit from Italy. I always wanted to prepare for these visits so that everyone had a great time and I could show off my adopted hometown. The result has been hundreds of miles and hours of exploring and the emergence, in an ad hoc way, of what my friends call tours, but I consider simply my favourite walks and haunts.

History and hostelry in Wapping.

London has given me a passion for old pubs and history and one of my favourite neighbourhoods brimming with both is Wapping. Steeped in Thames history, with hugely appealing warehouse conversions and fine old homes exemplified by Pierhead, Wapping is a remarkably peaceful area.

I like to embrace the area’s history by having a pint in Turner’s pub, The Star, and watching the sunset from Wapping Wall. Then, I like to walk west along the river, cross Tower Bridge, and head to Bermondsey, another fantastic area. Taking a moment to appreciate the view reveals the intersection of history and the contemporary cityscape. The sight of the Tower of London and the Shard, two contrasting architectonical styles and eras, that deepens my affection for this city.

View of Tower Bridge from the Dockmasters office at St Katharine Docks, E1

Window shopping, Hampstead.

One of my favourite things to do is stroll around residential areas and admire the houses, imagining life on this street, in this place. It is something we all do, I guess, and it was always instinctive in me but now I also believe it helps me to understand our clients better. When someone comes to buy, sell or rent a home with us, they bring with them their hopes and dreams for the next phase of their life. The more understanding of that we have as a team, the better we will do our jobs.

I absolutely love the back lanes of Hampstead for this. The windows are right there, at eye level, close-up, and people’s lives feel so tangible and real. And I can end my wanderings with a visit to The Hollybush, which has to be one of the loveliest pubs in London.

Walking in the North London villages brings me inspiration for work and life. I love the tree-lined streets of De Beauvoir, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Canonbury Square, and a picnic on Highbury Fields, with its backdrop of stunning Georgian and Victorian terraces and the avenues of plane trees.

The Holy Bush, traditional 18th-century wood-panelled pub.

Afternoon tea, with style.

I’m a massive fan of afternoon tea, but not always the traditional way. I have treated myself to fine art and high tea at Sketch, but you are more likely to find me having Matcha tea from the Japanese cafes Kissa-wa, on Corsica Street, or Katsute 100, in Camden Passage. I get my Franco fix at Brasserie Zeddel, in Piccadilly, so classic and charming. Another place I love – but for a cocktail not tea – is The Zetter, in Clerkenwell. Steeped in history and beautifully furnished with a combination of vintage pieces and colourful contemporary design, it ticks all the boxes for me, including the most important one, top quality people-watching.

Right under our nose, the traditional route.

There is one meander that I developed for my friends visiting from Italy but about which my London born and bred friends, as I got to know them, would say “we never do that area, even though it’s right under our noses.” (English phrases are the greatest!) It’s very traditional, very central, very magical and if you dismiss it as “touristy” then you are missing out on one of the most true-London experiences you could have.

You start at the Sir John Soane’s Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields, home of the urbanist who helped build London, kept as it was when he lived there, full of extraordinary furniture, sculptures, and paintings. You leave here and, passing the sixteenth century Old Curiosity Shop made famous by Dickens, it’s to The Seven Stars behind the Royal Courts of Justice for a pint in one of London’s oldest public houses with credible claim to have been built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, then one block south for lunch at The Old Bank of England restaurant which is a stunning setting. I finish this meander with a walk that takes in Temple Church and Gardens and the Victoria Embankment to St Paul’s. It’s just a really wonderful London day out.

Home from home, with Passione.

However much you love your adopted city, and consider yourself lucky to live here, being away from home inevitably brings moments of yearning for the old country. My home from home is Passione Vino, in Shoreditch. They import wines from Italy and have opened this tiny wine shop in a Georgian house, which is very beautiful. The proprietors are from the Northeast of Italy, like me, so it truly feels like home there with the wonderful food being regional.

The beautiful architecture of De Beauvoir Square, N1

Eyes wide open

I live in Stoke Newington. On Church Street, the tiny second-hand bookshop run by Tim Watson for the past forty years, has a fantastic selection of second-hand books. There are so many places like this in London that are not Instagram famous but are real gems with a fantastic story behind them. Recently, I was on Stoke Newington High Street buying a bottle of wine on my way to see friends. I got talking to the family who have run the wine shop for forty-five years. They told me about how this part of London was back in the 70s and 80s, and it made me see my neighbourhood in a totally new way.

There are hundreds of Londoners out there who have experience of moving to another city and seeing it with fresh eyes and taking time to explore it and be curious. That’s how I live here and it is probably why Story of Home felt that we should work together, because Stu and Mat seem to be able to combine knowing their own city like the back of their hand while maintaining a curiosity about everything in it, new and old. My parting comment would be to encourage Londoners to explore parts of the city you don’t know, curious, alert, looking up at buildings, reading plaques, taking a moment to explore all the nooks and crannies of ancient and contemporary London.

Sara looks after Story of Home’s thriving social media. Enjoy our Instagram stories and observations here.

How much is your home worth?

Request a Valuation