Day 1 – Just landed in Florence, Italy to find they have opened their new airport. I do love Florence – the art and culture, the cathedrals and churches and, of course, the shopping. Which led me to the artisans that have become friends. Now that I am COO/CFO of PoshTots and PoshLiving, my focus for this visit is on making it possible for you to buy these wonderful handmade products that have decorated my homes in Florida and Virginia since discovering them on small side streets of Florence over the past five years. In fact, I am staying in an apartment near the Ponte Vecchio owned by a ceramics artisan and formerly lived in by Machiavelli!
So…the apartment is not fancy but has great ceramics and is right across the street from a wonderful pastry shop.
Day 2 – I had forgotten how fresh and wonderful the food is here. The Porcini mushrooms and white truffles are in season! I enjoyed the mushrooms on my pasta, as a side and on my salad with shaved truffles on top of my pasta.
Before I left the US, I picked up a copy of Foder’s Florence’s 25 Best, always wanting to try new stores and restaurants. Much to my surprise, my friend, hostess and ceramics artisan, Mery’s gallery was listed as “the place” to buy ceramics. (So much for my secret source!) I do think their description is perfect – “Tucked away down a narrow alleyway…this pretty little shop is full to the brim with brightly coloured Italian ceramics, which are guaranteed to cheer up your home.” Now you will not have to travel to Florence because I have selected two of her hand-painted patterns to be featured on our PoshLiving site. Each item will be handmade and hand painted by the artist just for you so it can be personalized and will be available to ship to you directly from Mery. I selected a very traditional Tuscan pattern that can be done in red, blue or green on a pale background and that reminded me of the tapestries and damask fabrics that are popular right now. I also selected a very unique pattern of fruits and vegetables in reds, oranges and yellows on a background of either black or white. I love the detail in the painting – each piece is a masterpiece!
The perfect vessel for your olive oil.
I’m not sure whether to hang this or use it for the Thanksgiving turkey! The detail is amazing.
Day 3 – Today, I traveled into the hills just outside of Florence to visit Savio Firmino, who has agreed to design an exclusive line of children’s furniture for PoshTots. Their Notte Fatata line of hand-carved children’s heirloom pieces is unparalleled and we feel privileged to have been selected to sell their only exclusive design. Together with Savio Firmino, we sent their hand-carved wood and leather rocking bassinet as a shower gift to Giuliana and Bill Rancic and it immediately became the centerpiece of the event. Touring their factory reinforced my understanding of the craftsmanship and time involved to create each piece – often months! I wish everyone’s home could have their castle bunk bed with built in five-drawer dresser, shelves, display cabinet and hand-carved details that can include your family crest.
I met Amadeo Savio, the CEO and design creator, and his wife. They are the third generation of the family and Amadeo sketches each design by hand before turning it over to his team. The designs are works of art and many are framed around the offices. Most of my time was spent with Cosimo Savio, the COO and Amadeo’s nephew, and Simone Pellegrini, who is responsible for the US market. We discussed their business plans for growth in the US and the ways we could work together in the future (including carrying their complete furniture line on PoshLiving!). From sofas to dining sets to marble inlaid tables and magnificent mirrors, all of their pieces have the feel of being crafted for royalty.
After a delicious lunch with them in a 17th-century trattoria of Florentine beef, more porcini and lardo bruschetta (yes, that translates to lard but tastes amazing), we visited the set of a movie being filmed nearby that Cosimo is producing and hoping to premiere at Cannes.
That is me on the left, one of the lead actors in the middle and Cosimo Savio on the right.
Day 4 – Traveled by train to Siena, my favorite medieval, walled city and – this is the finance side of me – where the oldest continuously operating bank was established (probably to hold all the Medici fortune!). I was on the hunt for some Tuscan linens and found a few hand-stamped items to think about. I just wasn’t sure they were “Posh” enough. I met a friend for lunch at my favorite restaurant, La Taverna di San Giuseppe, up a hill in an Etruscan cave in the “Dolphin or Ocean” condado. Siena is known for its Palio horse race in the town center, where the condado’s each enter a horse that is first blessed inside their local chapel. You get a glimpse of it in the opening scenes of a recent James Bond film.
Day 5 – I continued my pursuit of hand-woven Tuscan fabrics, bedding and tablecloths on the backstreets of Florence. I finally found what I was looking for in a small shop that backs up to the River Arno. Run by an interior designer with very high standards, my challenge was convincing her she should work with us to bring her unique items to the US. She was working on a beautiful bedding set with tiny bees on the duvet cover and damask shams and bedskirts that I fell in love with. Her Tuscan handwoven hanging headboards were unique and are sure to catch on here. Stay tuned.
Day 6 – My last day is spent purchasing leather goods to bring home to family and friends. An exhausting day visiting so many leather shops and the leather school (after paying homage to Michelangelo and Galileo in the church, Santa Croce, where their tombs are and which you cut through to get to the leather school) yields 1 pair of shoes, 2 pairs of boots, 3 sets of gloves, 4 wallets and a rolling carryon to bring it all home in. Okay, so that did not include the leather jacket I picked up earlier at the straw market or the cookies from Caffe Gilli where I discovered the most amazing hot chocolate you drink at the bar. I departed early in the morning after a final meal at a small trattoria in the Santo Spirito district, frequented mostly by locals and known for its Boar. Of course, afterwards I visited my favorite gelateria for the homemade chocolate orange gelato. Ciao – or should I say Chow (the food really is delicious)?!?