In honor of the American Labor Day this weekend, I am dedicating this blog to my Italian friends, who continue to work, seek employment and strive to be resourceful in the midst of Italy's continuing financial crisis and to compete in a global market while protecting their country's heritage and traditions. The jobless rate rose this July to 12.6%, hovering near a 40-year high. This particular article is featuring two of our friends in a circle of talented individuals whose expertise range from singers, shoe designers, ceramists, winemakers, farmers, olive oil and pasta producers and more. I am very thankful they are a part of our family's life as they have widened our perspective on art, music, education, food, lifestyle and how philosophical and governmental differences can shape a person's future.
The sharp contrast between our American life to the one we live here in Le Marche, Italy continues to poke at me without rest. The newsfeeds on all my social media sites tick away with ways to spend the last big American holiday of summer before the routine of school and work are put into motion along with the changing seasons from long, sunny days to shorter, darker ones.
We've only been back to our Italian home for 12 short days since our month long visit to the Pacific Northwest. It was wonderful to re-connect with our Italian friends who had been happily enjoying "Ferragosto" -- the Italian summer holiday during the month of August.
A large percentage of Italians have anywhere from 2-4 weeks off in August every year as many industries collectively shut down for business during that time. (As a side note, Italy has the most paid vacation days, 42 per year, in comparison to Europe and America, 13 days, for the average American worker.)
Last week, as the weekend was coming to a close, we were dining in the piazza in Torre di Palme at the newly opened "Story" ristorante and bouncing back and forth between the restaurant and the bar, La Loggia, chit chatting amongst the normal suspects.
During one of these conversations we were showing our good friend, Marco Rutili, a third generation blacksmith, metal forger and artist extraordinaire, a very fancy gate we saw in California at an exclusive and expensive Los Gatos neighborhood. He proceeded to tell us that the gate was easy to make and in particular, this one, wasn't even hand forged but produced by a machine. Then he popped open his photo album on his phone to show us one of his most recent projects that was a contemporary stair railing, each panel different and unique featuring scenes from the beach of dolphins, his daughter's profile, the waves of the sea he designed and hand forged out of metal for an exclusive client. How I wish I had those photos with me now. We visit his studio occasionally and dream of Marco designing a new gate for our Oregon home. His scope of work ranges from modern stainless steel to traditional iron, as shown here.
His creative designs (which he hand draws prior to putting into production) and quality craftsmanship are exceptional in a world where this type of artistry is becoming rare and mechanized. To view more photos, visit his website at www.rutili.it
or contact him directly at email@example.com. The one thing about living in a country with a long history of art appreciation is the attention to detail in all that is designed in Italy. Clothing is no exception.
Last year, another dear friend, reached for her dream of becoming a fashion designer after many years working in the fashion industry. Tiziana Piersanti, also owner of the La Loggia bar in Torre di Palme, set her sights high to design a label that would reflect Italian beauty and quality. So much change in the fashion industry has occurred over the years, even in Italy, where products are pieced and manufactured in China but finished out or only designed in Italy so that it can have the "Made in Italy" tag.
Tiziana's label "Pierti" is 100% Made in Italy from design, to material and sewing. Only top quality natural fibers such as cashmere, silk, and cotton are used in her line along with accenting pieces of Swarovski crystal buttons, zipper catches and decorative elements.
She sketches her designs in between customers at La Loggia and focuses on her fashion business during the "off" season, from October through May. Tiziana, born in Torre di Palme, she has lived her entire life in this small medieval village where she continues to draw inspiration between the past and the present. Energized by all the beauty that surrounds her on the balcony of the Adriatic from Torre di Palme, Tiziana is constantly in motion, never sitting still. Pierti are treasured pieces to keep forever and if you are fortunate enough to wrap yourself in one of of her cashmere sweaters or jackets, you will never want to let it go. For more photos of her designs for both men and women, visit her website at www.pierti.it.
Tiziana sees clients by appointment only and welcomes conversations to take her label beyond Italy, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyday I try to take in the most positive aspects of living in Italy but what I have come to treasure the most are the friends Michel and I have made. After living here for two years, my appreciation deepens for this small colony of artisans who constantly appeal to the creative soul within. Italy just would not be the same without slow food, regional cooking, musicians, and artists of all kinds. I hope they can keep it alive as the world becomes smaller with technology.