From clothes to shoes and table lamps to wooden furniture, there’s something special about a product that is “Made in Italy”.
While most may find the label to equate with a trendy must-have, Italian artisan products are ones that have a unique story behind them. They are made by the hands of talented craftsmen, using techniques that are at times, passed down to them from generation to generation, making these objects not only aesthetically appealing but tones that truly tell a story. From the north to the south of Italy, follow us as we visit some of the country’s most talented artisans.
Handmade leather shoes: Italian fashion is well known the world over and its footwear doesn’t go unnoticed either. Travel to the northern city of Torino and you’ll find Beppe Rondinella, a passionate leather craftsman who specializes in shoes. His love for the trade began twenty five years ago as a young boy repairing heels and beginning to get his hands on leather, rubber and glue, all the makings for a vibrant future in shoes.
Beppe’s shoemaking process consists of four steps: the cut, preparation of the upper shoe and the lining with the leather of choice, stitching and assembly of the upper part of the shoe, mounting it to the rest of the form of the shoe, concluded with soling and finishing.
From days in the bodega as a young boy, Beppe grew to nurture this passion and make it his future, with a strong desire to create with his own hands an object that could comfortably accommodate people throughout the entire day. Now sold in renowned shoe stores throughout the world, Beppe remains true to his roots, producing a quality product made entirely by hand at his laboratory and store Calzolaio Carlo Alberto.
His work with leather has also inspired him to branch out, with a collection of belts in precious and unique leathers like crocodile, python, lizard and ostrich.
Gifts of gold from Veneto: an art form that dates back thousands of years, it’s one that finds a very modern place in today’s Italian craftsmanship. Tucked away in the heart of Veneto is the goldsmith shop of Daniela Vettori. Her pieces are no doubt, eye catching: exquisite jewelry pieces, some with simple and dainty lines for everyday wear, and others with a bold presence that sit majestically around the neck for an elegant evening look.
But there’s something quite different about a Daniela Vettori piece. All made of them are made by the hands of not only a talented woman, but a pioneer in her field. She employs a rather innovative and original goldsmithing technique, developed and refined by Daniela herself in the 1970s. This technique applies fire to the metals until it obtains a unique texture, giving the yellow gold an opaque and natural element.
But while her technique may be modern and cutting edge, she brings in a bit of ancient tradition, using lost wax casting that is seen in Greek, Roman and Etruscan art. Mix her uniquely textured gold with precious stones like amber, pearls, coral and opals, and you’ve got a priceless artisan piece by Daniela Vettori.
Colorful Sicilian Ceramics: there’s something about the south of Italy that emanates warmth, happiness and conviviality. So it’s only natural that artisans from that area gather their inspiration from this lively Mediterranean influence. Traveling to Italy’s island of Sicily, we find the vibrant works of Ceramic sculptor Alessandro Iudici. Alessandro is of the ninth generation, carrying on the family trade, one that may be the longest running in Sicilian ceramics history. As a young boy, he grew up around those passionate for making ceramics and had a hand in the action, working on the lathe and to this day, still using his family’s kilns.
Iudici’s lovely masterpieces today consist of a collection of colorful and unique vases that embody a very traditional sense of style that speaks to its roots. The blues, greens and oranges that are so popular in everyday Sicilian and Mediterranean life come alive in these one-of-a-kind ceramic vases. Even the colors for the ceramics are prepared by hand in the laboratory while for the glaze, sand is collected and used from the surrounding countryside.
For the Italian culture, there is a strong sense of pride that comes with the artisan trade. It’s long and concentrated time of hard work, meaningful family traditions and a passion to create something that is particular and of the highest quality. That is what is behind the Made in Italy label.