From their perch above the hectic streets of South beach Mike and Alicia Piazza share with the readers of Haute Living why they love to call the beautiful city of Miami home
By Stephanie Wilson
Photography by Reynaldo Alés
But the success has not gone to his head; down-to-earth Piazza spends his days traveling around South Beach on his bicycle, where he is likely to head over to Lincoln Road and grab a panini at Books and Books.
These days it seems all celebrities roll with huge entourages. The groups can be seen on any given day gallivanting around Miami with cell phones pressed to their ears, generally making a scene in a city that is all about see-and-be-seen. Despite being a 12-time All-Star and the best hitting catcher of all time, Mike Piazza isn’t like that; he is just genuinely normal, which is a breath of fresh air in a world where celebrity stories shock and awe us on a daily basis.
A typical day in the life of Piazza, catcher for the Oakland A’s, begins high above the streets of South Beach. Mike and his beautiful (and pregnant) wife Alicia live on the 31st floor of a South of Fifth high-rise, the floor an ode to the number Mike wore while playing for the New York Mets, where he earned more than $10 million per year. Mike fell in love with the apartment when the building was still under construction. He says, “I came up in the bucket when this building was just half-finished. It was a windy day, and I was like, ‘What the heck am I doing?’ This place was nothing but a shell. I walked around and thought this was one of the best views I had ever seen. There was no way in my mind a place like this could ever depreciate.”
He hired Alexandra Karram to do the interior design of the 3100-square-foot palace in the sky. The apartment boasts floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, offering the most coveted views in all of Miami, including vistas of the ocean, Fisher Island, Biscayne Bay and the downtown skyline beyond. The interior design is clean and modern, and sticks to a beige palate, allowing the spectacular views to take center stage. Piazza was more than half-way complete with the apartment when he met and married Alicia; she swept in and added some personal touches that made the house into a home.
The much-in-love duo spends Mike’s off-season in Miami, a town Mike has always adored. “I remember the first time I came here as a kid. Getting off the plane in Fort Lauderdale and driving down A1A, I remember thinking about the beautiful synergy between the ocean and the sky,” he recalls. This led him to the University of Miami, where he received a full scholarship for baseball. He attended UM during his freshman year, before deciding college ball was not for him. Piazza transferred to Miami-Dade North, and lived around 125th Street near Bal Harbour where he spent a lot of time wandering around looking at the things he couldn’t afford. Now, years later, he is back in Miami, and the progression of his success has led him to heights he never dreamed possible.
But the success has not gone to his head; down-to-earth Piazza spends his days traveling around South Beach on his bicycle, where he is likely to head over to Lincoln Road and grab a panini at Books and Books. He enjoys Miami due to our warm weather, and the fact that it is a great place to stay in shape. “I have been a resident of Florida since 1993,” he explains. “Miami is a good place to work out and stay in-shape in the off season, because now there is no off-season for us. It used to be you would go to spring training to get in shape. Now you get there and everyone is in shape already!”
Dedicated oenophiles and foodies, Mike and Alicia say they are spoiled being in Miami. “Where else can you go to Nobu, Casa Tua, The Forge, Macalusos, Sylvanos or Quattro any night of the week?” asks Mike.
The pair also owns an apartment in New York, and a loft in LA, which Alicia purchased before she semi-retired from modeling and acting. With the new addition to their family arriving soon, the pair will be spending even more time in Miami. “We have gone around and around about where we want to raise our kids,” Alicia says. “If we chose Miami, at least they can have a swimming pool and a yard. We ride our bikes everywhere, and it’s a little more earthy than New York. So we decided to base our kids here, and then when there is vacation time, we could go to New York or LA.” Alicia cited the benefits of living in New York as theater and culture, and growing up around all kinds of different people. Mike points out, “With the new cultural centers going in, Miami is going to have symphonies and operas, so I think Miami is trying to evolve and grow as a city, making it more of a complete destination.”
“When I was here as a college kid, it was all South Beach and clubs,” says Mike. Alicia continues the thought, “Now there are more families, and when you bring in families, they start developing, and that is where the staying power is. There are a lot more people who are rooted in Miami, and those are the people who get established in the community, go to church and become politically active.”
This is a group that the Piazzas are definitely in. The duo was married in a big church wedding in 2005, and we can expect them to take an active interest in what is going on in the community. As Mike says, “When you live somewhere, you want to do what you can to make your community a better place for everyone.”