Tag Archives: Artisan shops Spello

Handbags and Gladrags

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As part of my occasional series on artisan shops in Spello I have spoken to people who farm the produce, design the clothes and even hunt the truffles that they sell. For me, it is the people who interest me most, although I am never averse to a little purchase given the opportunity. Il Vario is located on Via Garibaldi. It sells a variety of things (the shop’s name means “varied”), but largely handbags and ceramics.

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The owner is Marcello Paneri, a well-known character in his smart shoes and stylish clothes. Marcello has had his shop in Spello for 16 years and branched out 2 years ago with another in nearby Foligno. Marcello speaks little English and his quick-fire Italian is difficult for me to follow at times, but we (almost) managed to understand each other using the normal pointing and nodding translation tools!

Marcello Paneri, Il Vario, Spello

Marcello Paneri, Il Vario, Spello

Marcello collaborates with a potter to design and produce ceramics which use the work of the famous Austrian artist Gustav Klimt as inspiration. Many of the pieces are big and bold and their high glaze shines in the sunlight….

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Handbags were quirkily displayed in frames or draped with well-matched accessories.

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The handbags are made in Umbria using the softest leather with handcrafted stitching. These bags aren’t cheap, but the clean lines, quality and timeless styles will ensure that buyers are still filling them with absolute essentials for years to come.

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Jewellery reminded me of the sea with its rocks and shells…..

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….and brightly coloured, swimming fish caught in nets….

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Some of the bags were decorated with tapestry designs; we asked where these were made.

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Come” motioned Marcello, and we obediently followed him, destination and purpose unknown. He led us down a side street which opened out into the small Carlo Carretto piazza, and through a double door into a light-filled space with displays of tapestries created by Mauro Ottaviani, who had by now joined us, summoned by Marcello.

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Mauro’s ancient Singer sewing machine was a source of great pride, although its sewing days were long gone. His intricate picture of a favela was my favourite….

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….and this detail of a colourful seaside town also caught my eye….

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Mauro has been creating his works since 1985, showing flowers, human figures, townscapes and geometric designs. A large tapestry of Spello took 3 years to make; the intricate work makes this understandable.

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Mauro invited us (nodding and pointing) to his workshop, and we were fortunate to see him at work on his latest design, his deft fingers flying over the fabric….

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Who would have thought that a chat with Marcello would result in an opportunity to see one of Spello’s craftsmen at work? Only a chilled glass of prosecco could complete our lovely afternoon, and so it was that we spent the early evening in the gardens of the Bar Bonci. Now that’s another story….

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You Wear it Well

 

Audrey - You've Forgotten Your Hat!

Audrey – You’ve Forgotten Your Hat!

On Spello’s main street, just beyond the Piazza della Repubblica, is La Bottega degli Intrecci. It’s the prettiest shop in the street from the outside, and stepping inside does not disappoint.

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Bottega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Paola Tacconi is the driving force behind the business. She is a chic, cultivated lady, always smiling. A creative person and a published poet, her passion is to create beautiful clothes with a strong ethical philosophy. The materials she uses are natural and organic – linen, bamboo and wool are particular favourites – leaving behind the smallest imprint possible on the planet.

Paola Tacconi, Spello

Paola Tacconi, Spello

Paola was born in Terni near Rome but moved to Spello 28 years ago, when she fell in love with its peaceful, spiritual ambience. She opened her shop 18 years ago and now has clients from all over the world who recognise the quality and originality of her work.

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Everywhere you turn there are stylish clothes, recalling the timeless elegance of Audrey Hepburn.

“The imprint of Miss Hepburn is absolutely, totally present.” Manolo Blahnik

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Everything is designed by Paola and her designs are translated into reality by a local seamstress with whom Paola has worked for many years. It is all made by hand, all made in Spello.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Enzo Ferrari

Wool and Bobbins, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Wool and Bobbins, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

The clothes are wonderfully classic in style, the sort of things to buy and keep rather than discard the following season: full of flair, rather than disposable fashion. Paola is full of good advice, helping customers select items and matching them to delightful accessories, all without any pressure to buy. The boutiques of Milan can’t compete with service like this!

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello. Fine bamboo top with silk beads.

Whether you are going to the beach or to the ball, once you have chosen your clothes, there are original bags, scarves and jewellery to complete your look….

Stylish Bag, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Stylish Bag, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Paola promotes the age-old art of tatting: handmade lace-making using a small shuttle to produce intricate jewellery. Each piece is entirely original and very decorative.

Tatting, Bottega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Tatting, Bottega Degli Intrecci, Spello

As well as tatting, there are many pieces made from macrame, a form of textile making that uses various knots to produce lampshades, cords and chains. Again each piece is original, delicate looking and light to wear.

Macramé Jewellry, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Macramé Jewellery, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

Macramé Necklace, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Macramé Necklace, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

It is the fine details that make Paola’s clothes stand out. The collar and button on this vibrant jacket add a timeless quality….

Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

BUtton Detail, Bottega Degli Intrecci, Spello

…and this coat sleeve has layers of detail that take it well beyond any high-street item….

Coat Sleeve Detail, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Coat Sleeve Detail, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

To mark her 18 years in business, Paola commissioned local artist Elfrida Gubbini to produce a terracotta sculpture, Madonna del Telaio (Madonna of the Loom) which can be found on Via Catena on the wall of the shop. It is a lovely work, and a generous gift to Spello, its residents and visitors who walk these cobbled streets.

Madonna Del Telaio, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

Madonna Del Telaio, Botega Degli Intrecci, Spello

I am no shopper, but even I left with a stylish little number. All I need now is a special occasion to wear it. Breakfast at Tiffany’s anyone?

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Can’t Buy Me Love

 

Click those heels together and make a wish!

Slippers that keep an eye on you….Click those heels together and head back to Kansas!

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Marilyn Monroe

It is true to say that money can’t buy you love, but it can get you pretty much everything else. I should tell you right away that I am not a shopper. The consumerism that has gripped so many people in the developed world does nothing for me, but I do still enjoy a bit of window shopping.

Where did you get that hat?

Where did you get that hat?

Where better to window shop than Italy for quality and style? Home of so many fashion labels: Versace, Gucci, Armani, Moschino, Valentino and Prada, to name but a few. But as well as the big names, small businesses – often family affairs – are commonplace, and their attention to detail in materials such as leather, silk and wool is wonderful.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” Yves Saint-Laurent

Bags of choice

Bags of choice.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” Oscar Wilde

Even in the small Umbrian town of Spello there are a variety of small shops crammed with delights….

Spello La Bottega

Spello La Bottega degli Intrecci

….where a little Italian flair is used to show the goods to best effect….

Leather and ceramics Spello

Leather and ceramics Spello

Further afield, in Umbria’s capital, Perugia, the shops are cosmopolitan, stylish, plentiful.

“Where is the man that can ease a heart like a satin gown? Dorothy Parker

Party? Me?

Party? Me?

I think I was more attracted to the reflection of Perugia Cathedral than the contents of this particular window….

Plastic Fantastic!

Plastic Fantastic!

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.” Audrey Hepburn

This was a feast for the eyes. Look – more sparkly shoes….

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Food shopping is more my style. Local cheeses just waiting to be nibbled with a decent glass of wine….

Cheese: yes please!

Cheese: yes please!

Then there is chocolate. Perugia is famous, amongst other things, for its high quality chocolate. No surprise then that shop windows are crammed with sweet delights….

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Even better was the Chocostore in Perugia’s main square….

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….with a view of the beautiful fountain….

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Even the drinks were chocolate-based, including alcoholic beers and cocktails….

Chocolate Heaven, Perugia

Chocolate Heaven, Perugia

The city of Assisi is known for its links to its most famous son, Saint Francis. Here, beside the many churches and the basilica, numerous shops and restaurants exploit the Saint, for example selling Saint Francis cakes which are tagged with a picture of him!

Assisi Bakery

Assisi Bakery

Walk in the steps of Saint Francis: this footwear could only be found in such quantities in Assisi….

Assisi, sandals

Assisi, sandals

Time to head back to Spello where this hill town helmet caught my eye.

Hill Town Helmet!

Hill Town Helmet!

Helmet, designer sunglasses, leather gloves and Vespa scooter….I’m all ready to go touring with the Touring Club Italiano!

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“Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel

 

Taking Care of Business

When we took our first, tentative steps towards learning Italian, and before we had met our lovely, patient Italian teacher, Jill, we listened to “Earworms”. It’s a hard concept to explain but it uses repetition, memory hooks and music to teach some basic phrases. It is why we still sing our numbers:

uno, due, tre,

quattro, cinque, sei,

sette, otto, nove,

dieci!

And it’s also why we think of all seven of the seven dwarves sitting on a settee to help us remember that seven is sette. You get the idea?

One of the Earworms chapters was about shopping, and it was here that we learned that the Italians do not say “a shoe shop” but rather “a shop of shoes.” We haven’t yet seen a shop of shoes in Spello, but what we have found are several artisan food shops, and I thought it might be interesting to feature some of them during the course of our stay.

CasAntonini is one such shop. Today it is fronted by the effervescent Luca Antonini, whose passion for his family’s products is evident as he explains with pride the origin and health benefits of the range of items on sale.

Luca Antonini and colleague outside the family shop, Spello.

Luca Antonini and colleague outside the family shop, Spello.

in 1854 Francesco Antonini – Luca’s great-grandfather, moved from Abruzzo to Scopoli near Folignio where he began cultivation of cereal and vegetable crops, using the seeds he had brought with him. Francesco’s children came to Spello and continued cultivation in the local area. In 1976 the family began using its stoneground flour to make pasta using family recipes which do not contain any fats, just the family’s own virgin olive oil. The traditional artisan method of lento lavorazione (slow process) uses much lower temperatures than industrial, mechanised processes and results in pasta that holds its shape and texture and tastes extremely good. Luca’s sister is head of production, and his brother also works in the business.

CasAntonini artisan products

CasAntonini artisan products

Other best-sellers include chickpeas, tiny shiny lentils, grains, jams and delicious savoury and sweet biscuits.

CasAntonio products

CasAntonini artisan products

The whole philosophy of the business is to offer high quality products that are healthy and provide that authentic Italian taste. Luca emphasises the importance of the health aspects, and advertises it prominently in the shop.

What the products of CasAntonini do and don't contain.

What the products of CasAntonini do and don’t contain.

We pop in to see Luca regularly as he helps us with our Italian and we help him with his English. We rarely leave empty-handed, so have sampled several of Luca’s products already: Contadini Classici pasta, Chicchi Bronzi Classici pasta – which is a little like orzo and can be used in risotto dishes – and plum jam, together with savoury and sweet nibbles. All have been utterly delicious.

Find out more, and see the lovely, calm video clip, at http://www.casantonini1976.it/index.php