Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Slow Masters - Introduction
Letizia Mattiacci (Madona del Piatto)
Sometimes I wonder why shopping while on holidays is so much fun. I mean, most of us live in worlds where there are shopping opportunities at every corner.
The thrill of something new and exotic is irresistible though. In addition, that object you buy will become a reminder of the sights and colors and emotions of a special time and place.
Hand painted Umbrian ceramics: a wonderful plate by Franco Mari in Deruta
There are endless ways to pursue the perfect souvenir.
I tend to go to department stores for purely utilitarian reasons. With globalization they all look the same down to the potpourri deodorizers and the focaccia/sushi bars. Only rarely have I found there something that had a link to a country and its people.
On the other hand, visiting colorful markets, quaint little boutiques and artisan workshops can be as valuable a cultural experience as the next monument.
This is particularly true in Italy. If you look beyond the glitzy made-in-China international brands, you will find a wealth of small artisans. Splendid ceramics, jewelry, textiles, iron, leather, wood and glass work, everything is there. And food, lots of special foods and drinks produced often by a single family or man.
Artisan food is widely available in Italy
Italian artisans might use modern technology and materials but they produce the same beauty, quality, and individual character of each object as centuries ago.
Theirs is no romantic life, really. They need to pay their bills. They are chased out of prime shopping areas by said international brands. They might not know how to use the Internet or speak foreign languages. There is no time for marketing when you run the business by yourself and need most hours to actually produce the merchandise, often by hand or with limited machinery.
Buying from an artisan, it's not only a gesture of appreciation of beauty, it is also a contribution to the tradition, to the preservation of knowledge and to the local economy.
Here are my tips for a successful craft hunt:
Back home you will have a little piece of Italy, our strange country, a country full of contrast and complexity, a country of extremes. A country where so much beauty can be found even behind a metal door.
The fabulous Brozzetti workshop in Perugia producing textiles on 100 years old looms
©Alla Madonna del Piatto , 2010
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