Sunday, April 29, 2012

Florence International Handicrafts Fair

Foreboding fortress  near Florence's railway station 

 Fortezza da Basso  is a  Renaissance fortress  complex  built by the Medici in the 1530s on a design of Sangallo il Giovane. Inside the massive   walls that once protected the city,  enormous  hangar like exhibition spaces  were bursting with bargains and   beautiful objects, traditional foods,  and stalls for the Artisans’ Fair which closes today .

ceramics resembling ivory 

The Fair,  first set up   76 years ago, gives  pride of place to both traditional   artisans and contemporary design.
 Scattered throughout  eight days in April  are  25  collateral happenings plus  special  areas  pulsating with creative  people.

wooden toys, 

The scope  of the Fair is enormous making it necessary to prioritize, choosing  only certain sectors  and  interests  in order not to  wander aimlessly  among the hundreds of exhibits.

delightful cat  ceramics 
The main exhibit hall, Spadolini, has areas set aside for  the  guest country-this year Thailand, restaurants and unique handmade objects  in classic, modern, ethnic, contemporary and futuristic styles .  

I noted young people trying on  Japanese  kimonos  in the  Cavaniglia  hall next to Italian handicrafts  in  textiles, wood,  silver and  ceramics.  

The Fair is  an  international   mix of cultures. Where else will you find  jewelery  made from coins in  Argentina  or hear the  haunting sounds of  aboriginal  didgeridoo  while sipping red wine from  Tuscany’s Maremma? 

 Where else could you watch Cretan icon artist  Nektaria  painting while  women tried on   summery frocks made in India?  

 The  traditional artifacts on show and for purchase  range from tiny  toys  in olive wood   up to  heavy travertine sinks and  fireplaces, unique  chests  from Umbria alongside traditional  Tuscan-style furniture

With Italian artisans still producing such magnificent furniture, built to last for generations,  who needs  Ikea ? 

Legno & Colore  from Città di Castello, Umbria 
traditional Tuscan furniture 
Most of Italy’s provinces were represented : from the province of Bari  we admired   beautiful   cushions and magical lamps  and the  ice-colored bracelets of almost pure silver fashioned in northern Umbia.

lamps by Giuseppe Campanella, Polignano a Mare

From Monopoli, cushions by Giovanni Giotta 

Bottega Orafa Bartoccioni, Città di Castello (PG) 
There were  many irresistible tastes and perfumes in the air. The sellers entice by offering tiny tastes  and dabs of their wares. The strategy works and a jar of hand cream, one of the  perfumed cosmetics  made with  donkey milk, came home with me, as did a flacon of Modena's delicious vinegar. 
Laura Rovida's hand loomed textiles -the only artisan  from Lazio 

Florence  is also Fashion and the leather sector is one of the few in Italy's present crisis not undergoing a recession. In fact  there is  need for hundreds of   trained technicians and  artisans to turn out belts, bags and shoes for international markets.

Bochicchio belts  and bags  from Leonardo da Vinci's hometown   

Colorful bags  of Gioia Chiara's   
 I picked out a soft blue leather bag that doubles as a backpack from Gioia Chiara whose family has been producing and selling  on Via della Scala in Florence since the 1940s. 

Bargain prices from Pistoia factory 
Sweaters and shirts in bright spring colors  were presented by Cashmerissimi, a  Pistoia factory.    

The food sector  was amply represented. There were  huge loaves of  bread and  biscotti from Puglia,  truffles and mushrooms,  pates, mozzarella,  gelato,  chocolate and  beers.  
Bread man of Puglia

Mark your calendar  for next  year’s  event and if you missed this fair, perhaps you can make it to  Florence on the May 12-13  weekend for the  smaller fair happening in the gardens of Palazzo Corsini.

Tips for Florence: take the train, leave the car at home. 
Beato Angelico frescoed the monks' cells - San Marco Monastery 

Where to stay?  I keep going back to  Hotel Orto dei Medici, a 3 star hotel with 5 star feel.   
cloister of San Marco's  near the Hotel Orto dei Medici

Library of San Marco, where Savonarola was captured

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  1. This is an excellent post. It's having good description regarding this topic.It is informative and helpful.I have known many information from this

  2. hi am planning to attend the fiera del levante in Bari in sept 2012. will be exhibiting under the international handcraft. Just wanted to know what is popular with the italians. I am from Zimbabwe