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Weaving, eating, and a little surgery

Today was the third and final day of my private workshop at the Giuditta Brozzetti textile atelier in Perugia and I felt a little sad saying goodbye to everyone. The workshop really was fascinating and more fun than I expected!

Marta is the driving force behind the workshop, founded by her great-grandmother almost a century ago, and Marta spent many patient hours with me on a simple, four-pedal loom teaching me the basics of weaving. This was much harder than it looks, and gave me a real appreciation for the intense labour as well as creative energy that goes into the weaving of the beautiful table clothes, napkins, cushion and lamp covers that Marta now creates.

(After many hours of toil, I’ve produced a fairly ugly little piece in many colors and a few different patterns. I’ll post a photo, so readers with weak stomachs, beware!)

Marta’s mother Clara, a passionate historian on the subject of Umbrian textiles, also spent many hours giving me an overview of the history of textiles in general but particularly why these have been so important to the Umbrian economy for centuries.

The textile industry was arguably the backbone of much of the world’s commerce throughout history. People have always needed and valued cloth -- for clothing, for warmth on their beds, to cover windows and warm stone walls, for decoration, for show and even as a means of exchange.

Textile workers revolted against revolutions in the production of fabric over the years, but progress couldn’t be stopped. At least in northern Europe. Umbria, for many reasons, did not industrialize. This has been a curse and a blessing: the economy of Umbria has suffered greatly, but many kinds of art -- including textile production -- were protected as a result.

Of course, it wasn’t all work. Clara and Marta are extremely kind and friendly and a great pleasure to talk with. Today, Clara invited me to lunch with her family, including her husband, her three adult daughters, sons-in-law and a delightful grandchild. It was fantastic -- a simple pasta dish followed by roast chicken -- and wonderful conversation.

Everyone blogs about food, but I do have to say that I’ve had some fantastic meals so far (how could I not?) Last night I tried the restaurant Altro Mondo near my hotel in central Perugia. My antipasto platter included wonderful proscuitto, deep--fried artichoke, bruschette including truffle pate and fresh tomatoes, a couple mozzarella and rice balls -- an interesting mix. My main course was a delicious lentil soup. I’ve become addicted to lentil soup and here in Umbria it is so good -- thick, flavourful, yet very simple.

I skipped gelato last night so perhaps tonight, as a treat, I’ll let myself have one. After all, it hasn’t been all fun and weaving and eating. Two nights ago, strolling on Corso Vannucci, I somehow stepped in some glass and wound up with a piece about half the size of a peppercorn embedded in my foot.

It hurt like hell, and all night it felt like something was under my skin, but I couldn’t see anything. The next morning, I walked all the way to the workshop, still feeling something wasn’t right. I resolved to ask Clara and Marta’s advice -- should I go to a clinic and if so, where?

Of course, Marta -- running a workshop filled with wooden looms -- has had plenty of experience with removing slivers under the skin. Up my foot went and down on her knees was Marta, poking and prodded at my foot. She agreed with me -- something was in there and had to come out.

She disinfected a small needle, then a much larger needle and finally some small scissors. After swabbing the area with disinfectant, she began to work to pull up and snip away the skin, until she finally reached this chunk of glass.

What a relief!!! I worry a lot about infection and cuts on the foot are serious, because of course a lot of bacteria can enter easily through the foot.

Since then, under their strict advice, I’ve been washing the area with disinfectant three times a day, slapping on some Polysporin and hoping it heals soon. Oh, and watching carefully for broken glass.

The things you can learn in a textile workshop!

Comments (16)

Barb Cabot:

The workshop sounds wonderful but I was wincing at the thought of the glass being extracted from your foot and worse you walking on it while it was still embedded. Glad it all got taken care of. Thank you for blogging. It does sound lovely. Take care of that foot.


So sorry to read about your foot, and as we are hobbling around Bologna with David's post-surgical knee, my empathy. If you need an antibiotic, go see a pharmacist. It's really hot in Bologna too.


Sandra, after your little surgery you must have gelato today - maybe two!


Ouch, but how fortuitous that Marta's fingers are not just skilled at weaving! I imagine such a cut would easily get infected if not properly tended to, so glad to hear you have polysporin etc.

I am most anxiously awaiting a photo of this "fairly ugly little piece in many colors and a few different patterns". Too funny. You are such an entertaining writer, Sandra!

Oh no! What horrible luck! I am glad that Marta was able to remove the glass but I am a bit worried about you and hope that your disinfecting routine does the trick. I hope you are not in any pain.

I am so happy you enjoyed your workshop. It sounds like you learned a lot. What a treat to be able to have lunch with Clara's family. Can't wait to see the photo of your creation!

I hope your foot is doing better. The weaving class sounds wonderful


Thanks, Barb -- the workshop was wonderful and the foot was such a minor glitch (I hopte that it stays that way!)

Hi Marcia, hope you're enjoying Bologna and thanks for the advice about the pharmacists -- good to know!

Sheri, I've taken your advice and applied lots of pistachio gelato.

Thanks, Anne -- the little bit of weaving I've done was very experimental. Great practice but it looks pretty sad. Still, it is a fun little souvenir.

Hi Girasoli! The little cut really didn't cause any pain, which is maybe why I kept walking on it (although in Perugia, as you know, you don't have a lot of choice but to walk everywhere!) It did hurt when Marta was digging it out, but I definitely didn't care -- the glass had to go!

Marta, it was so interesting and the workshop (in a deconsecrated church) was a wonderful environment in which to work.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I'm sorry to hear about your foot and the glass. That was very nice of Marta to help get it out.

Your workshop sounds really wonderful. Clara and Marta sounds very friendly, knowledgeable and talented. Maybe one day when I get to Perugia I can have a visit too.

I am looking forward to your next entry. Keep on having fun and hope your foot heals soon. Take care.

Yikes re the glass and the surgery. Hope it heals up very quickly. Other than that, it sounds wonderful. Even though it's horribly hot here today, I now want some lentil soup!

Have fun!


Hi Kathy, it WAS really nice of Marta to help out. Digging around in a stranger's foot could not have been pleasant! But they are a wonderful family, and if you get to Perugia sometime I think you'd really enjoying looking around their workshop!

Hi Annie, it's incredibly hot here, too -- probably no one else would think of lentil soup. But the restaurant was well air-conditioned, so soup seemed just the thing!

The workshop sounds great! How cool that you are actually learning to weave a little bit. And glad to hear that the skilled artisans so easily removed the glass from your foot!!

Terry (teaberry):

Sounds like a fascinating trip, minus the surgery! I'm enjoying your blogging, and definitely looking forward to your photos, too.


Hey, Babe, glad to hear things are going well, except for foot-in-the-glass-wise. I can empathize -- have been working on a stained glass project and have pulled two lovely shards out of my foot and managed to slice open three of my fingers. Keep lathering up that foot, stay cool, have fun. When does Philippe join you?


Ouch, Gwen -- be careful! Be sure to disinfect your wounds, feet are a great entry point for bacteria.

Philippe joined me in Perugia a few days ago and things are going well (and my foot seems to be healing, yay!)

Good thing that you got rid of the glass quickly!

I kept scrolling down to see the picture of your work on the loom - did I miss it?

Yikes is right! I would have fainted if someone was digging a chunk of glass out of my foot with needles!

But it sounds like everything worked out OK with your "surgery".

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