Many of us who are Italophiles speak often of trying to bring a touch of Italy into our homes. I'm thinking of Italian wines, or great cheeses or even jars of honey flavoured with wildflowers (one of my favourites.) But most of all, I'm thinking of how I really enjoy collecting pieces of hand-made, hand-painted ceramics.
I've also become deeply interested in some of the gorgeous, handmade textiles from my favourite city of Perugia and created by a true artist, Marta Brozzetti. I brought one of her beautiful new works home with me, and have my eye on another that I hope to buy later this year!
But first, the ceramics.
My latest purchases -- which I had shipped from Deruta for their own protection -- arrived via FedEx a few days ago, and I'm really enjoying them. I bought 3 coffee mugs (why 3? I don't know, but 4 seemed so conventional) I also bought a cunning little oil lamp, which will serve no practical purpose, and a lovely round box for jewelry. I love boxes and the sunflower pattern makes me happy.
I also bought two serving dishes: one, a slightly unusual rectangular-shaped piece, and a round serving plate. I loved this plate and when I got it home, realized the pattern matched a bread knife with a ceramic handle and some small bowls that I bought last year! That wasn't intentional. I don't like things to be too match-y -- I'll never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. But I don't care, to me these pieces are small works of art and art shouldn't "match" anything!
Being occasionally practical, I began last year to buy dishes that I could use every day. At that time, I bought four bowls and four plates and I am using one or more of these pieces literally every single day. I needed new dishes, and last year's choices bring me joy every day. I even keep them on an open shelf at eye level above the kitchen sink, so the bright yellows and blues are continually (and literally) in my face.
So last month in Umbria, I knew I was destined to add to my collection. I had to pay a visit to a shop I love in Deruta, Ceramiche Artistiche Gialletti Giulio. (Deruta is a kind of frightening little town, chock-a-block with hundreds of ceramics shops and many of those not very nice, some even peddling machine-made goods from China.)
But I respect the owners of Gialletti, they show visitors their workshops, from the beginnings of the ceramic piece right through to the hand-painting of the final product. They also take real care in the shipping and handling of what they sell, which I appreciate since I don't dare try to pack such beautiful pieces in my luggage.
I also bought a new textile, perhaps for my bedroom wall, designed and created by the talented Marta Brozzetti. She operates a small family businesses, Guiditta Brozzetti, in a deconsecrated church in Perugia's university neighborhood. Her hand-woven textiles are works of art. My friend Mary has been buying textiles of all sorts from the Brozzetti family for roughly 40 years and has written often and lovingly about their atelier.
Marta carefully researches the patterns she develops for her textiles, for greater historical authenticity. My new textile features a decorative pattern called "a medallion Leoni" and is taken from a 12th century fresco that adorns a side chapel of the church of Santa Maria Infraportas in Foligno in central Umbria.
I may mount my new textile in a similar manner to this table runner which I bought last year from Marta, featuring beautiful, burgundy gryphons, mythical creatures that are a symbol of the city of Perugia.
I don't really enjoy shopping, especially here in Canada.
But I've been bringing home more and more pieces from Italy because the beauty of the handiwork found in so many Italian products amazes me. The attention to detail that goes into so many things prepared in Italy, from a simple cappuccino or a beautifully wrapped box of pastries, to such hand-woven textiles fills me with awe and a desire to bring a bit of that attitude into my life.