Sunday, April 1, 2012

Inexpensive Italy-living well on a small budget

Years ago as a contributor to the popular guidebook  "Designer Bargains in Italy"  I revealed  how Italians were able to dress so well on small incomes: they  found quality clothing and household goods at  factory outlets, discount shops and   bargain basements.

Roberta's open air  boutique
Today with  fixed income  Italians bearing the brunt of another  economic crisi, the thrifty  tightwad in all of us  returns as we  organize  ways to continue living well without throwing away hard-earned euros.

evening and beach wear 

 Many more  people-not just penniless students- are taking pride in  outwitting  the sky rocketing  cost  of living.  
made in Italy   at bargain prices
My fashion conscious yet frugal friend Regina  proudly  posed  before her weekly dance class  wearing a couple of the fashionable tops found at  a country  bancarella for  2 euro each.

Along  with once-skeptical friends, she  enjoys choosing  Italian-made  jackets and dresses  that would have prohibitive prices  in  Olgiata or Parioli.
 15 euro for everything

April 15th has been declared “no gas”day   in Italy in protest for the ever-rising prices. 

What to do when the price of excellent local  wine (1,70 per litre)  is less than that of gas for the car? 

just one of the many local wine dealers 

save on bottles, bring your  own 3 or 5 litre jug

Here are  some ideas: 
Drink more wine and drive less 
Take public transport whenever possible
Group errands together on  the same trip
Shop  locally: walk to the weekly  market and nearby shops whenever possible

This weekend  there were three  separate  fairs offering handmade products in our area-other opportunities to save and meet creative artisans. 

 I have selected  a few of the best to share with readers. 
If you live here  or are planning to visit, why not choose hand crafted objects to bring back home.
  If you'd like more information, feel free to ask, leave a comment (its now easy-no fuss)  and share with friends.
seen in San Martino al Cimino

  San Martino al Cimino,  close to Viterbo, is a hilltop town once home to the  Mistress of the Vatican (more about the town on Chestnut Festival post). 
Here  a few tables were set up in the main piazza where local artisans in wood, wool, plastic and leather showed their wares. 

felt bookmarks   to encourage reading 
 Tiny, easy to pack  felt bookmarks, knit cotton and wool caps and scarves by the Coluccia sisters  are perfect as Easter gifts

 Domenico Minnocci 's photos celebrate  Etruria and Tuscany
The Coluccia sisters showed their wares in Viterbo ...

..and San Martino 

recycling buttons as jewellery 

Silvia of  San Martino shows her wares 

On the shores of Lake Bolsena at Capodimonte the recently restored Cascina  hosted a larger, higher level gathering of excellent artisans  in wood,  precious stones, mosaic artists, weavers and woodworkers.

Organized  by a resident French-German couple Katherine and   George, of La Porticella association, the fair L’altro Mercatino showcased  biological products as well as  handmade  items. 

outside  the just restored Cascina 

Nonna Natalina from  Tuscania 

the Cascina makes a perfect exhibition space

homemade marmellate 

macrame jewellery 

The array was tempting and my purchases,under  20 euro,  included  a lavender perfumed  pillow in an African textile  and an iridescente   vase by Raku Enaan. 
cushions  with natural fibers and fillings

raku  vases and jewellery 

Roberto begins a new vase

Etruscan style bucchero ware 
Tempting  were the Etruscan-style vases of Roberto Bellucci and  inlaid wood by Barbara Banco along with  jewellery in silver and semi precious stones.   
Da Giggiotto, Ischia di Castro 
old fashioned flavor  in decor and  food 
What better  way  to end the  morning than to discover  a new  trattoria in nearby Ischia di Castro.
Adelina and daughter  in the kitchen 
Rocca Farnese with newly re-opened loggia
Directly across  from the  Rocca Farnese, now undergoing a complete restoration, we enjoyed  a perfect Sunday lunch (30 euro for  two) at this family-run  trattoria that opened two years ago. 
 It  was a  return to the past: huge helpings of  pasta,  excellent meat and contorni, friendly atmosphere and tiramisu from heaven.

the best tiramisu I've had yet



    WE made the front page of Italian Reflections WOW!

  2. Karen Louise Taylor wrote: Many of my favourite bags, shoes & clothes came from similar places in London. It's so much more exciting to nab a bargain.

  3. Very interesting Mary Jane. I agree with you that the cascina is a great place. Catherine and George are lovely. Their daughter is the same age as my daughter. CAthy Powell

  4. I was happy to meet them and see how they are also promoting this area. Why not share the post with your friends.

  5. ho visto le foto.... simpatiche
    sei stata brava oggi visto due mercati fatto foto e fatto articolo e pubblicato tutto in giornata...

    brava sei intraprendente
    grazie delle notizie che dai a tutti...
    Regina Vivan

  6. Buongiorno Signora Mary Jane, la ringrazio per avermi menzionato nel suo blog che ho visitato stamani.
    Le auguro un buon lavoro e tanti Auguri di Buona Pasqua e speriamo di rivederci in giro in altri mercatini.
    Domenico Minnocci

  7. It is great to see the Cascina in Capodimonte restored. your comments are behaving very oddly making it look as if they are all written by you!

  8. Dear Linda, none of the Italians and very few of my English readers have learned how to leave a comment. They send them to my FB message page or email so I then have to post here for them. At least lots of people are reading the blog...over 160 again today and its still early in the evening.

    1. Are I see what you are doing now as I show up as myself. There is a way you can do this, still cut and paste messages as you are doing, but below this box you will see a reply as box, choose name/URL and you can insert there name instead of yours. Hope this helps.

      Also if you have no objections to getting rid of comment verification I would recommend doing so. Lots of people will not leave comments if you have it switched on, it is such a hassle.

  9. Thanks to Linda I have finally understood how to eliminate the comment feel free to add comments, you will not be asked a difficult question.