Thursday, June 13, 2013

True Treasures

City of my heart.
To resume the posts about my trip with a girlfriend to the Nord back in February, we drove up  Nord to go to Nove for ceramics and Venice for masks. So after that night in Padova, we headed to Nove. We'd been told to go to Ceramiche VBC. I was expecting a town like Vietri sul Mare, which is the Nove of the Sud. A town devoted to ceramic production, except in a way better location - the Amalfi Coast is so unbelievably gorgeous! But the Nord has it's charms, too. And each region of Italy has a different style of ceramics. There is an area of Tuscany also famous for ceramics, Deruta. Then Sicily has this gorgeous, red scroll with a spot of turquoise style.

Nove came about because I was talking to a friend in our base department store when a friend of hers stopped by on the way to the post office. She mentioned that she was mailing a Tiffany bowl from Nove to a friend. In my mind, there was a record scratch stop. Tiffany? Nove? What? She pulled out this most beautiful, white lattice basket that I wanted to snatch out of her hands and run away quickly. Now I like ceramics fine, but I'm not overboard. Until I saw this bowl that is. I could not get it out of my head. I told Nathan about it. He Who Cares Nothing For Ceramics and Wants No More Ceramics or Stuff of Any Kind in Our House. That's how much I liked it - I actually mentioned a material thing I wanted. I asked Nathan how he thought I could convince my friend to go with me on a driving trip all the way up to Nove. His answer: "Ask her. I don't think you'll have to do much convincing." Good advice, since it took her about 2.7 seconds to agree to accompany me. In her words, "Otherwise, I'll just be sitting on my sofa watching TV. And you're chatty, so it's sort of like TV."

We headed into Nove and found a town nothing like Vietri sul Mare. In Vietre, you park your car in any of the numerous spots that are easily found, and start walking - the pedestrian zone is all ceramic stores. In Nove, the town looks like a town. A supermarket here, gas station there, sign for random ceramic store down that street. We managed to find VBC (thank you again, Steve Jobs!) and thought we'd spend a little time, then move on to another store. Ha! We closed down VBC at their 1pm Riposo. At which time the son of the (?) owner was so desperate for us to leave that he was offering us all kinds of discounts to buy the things I was dithering over and just get out. But VBC is amazing. Filled with ceramics made for fancy stores like Tiffany's and regular stores like Home Goods. It reminded me of the time in college when I did a Service Project to Jamaica, and we visited a local bra factory where dozens of women sat at sewing machines all day sewing bras. One lady showed us her work, and in pulling out the bras she'd completed that day, we saw bras with uber fancy brand labels and bras with discount department store labels. Sewn by the same lady. But I suppose it's all in the design. And the Tiffany ceramics were gorgeous! And I bought my coveted basket (please, please, please don't let it break in this upcoming move).

A very bad photo of Elephant (taken very quicky for our
Personal Property shipment). Sadly, I have no photos of
the actual store. Because the owner has photos up
EVERYWERE saying "No Photos;" which hasn't
stopped other bloggers. I'm just wimpy. So if you really
want to see more of her work, use the Google.
After a great morning of ceramics buying, we headed to Venice, my favorite city on the planet. Venice and Paris switch off with each other being my #1 and #2. Venice is just so fabulously unique. Back in November, when I'd gone to Venice with my sister, I'd insisted we search for a mask store I'd seen on a Venice trip with my friend a year and a half earlier, and after three hours, still couldn't find it. I thought I remembered where it was, but Venice's winding alleys and canals got the better of me. The next day, I managed to find an actual address for Rugadoro that took us right to it. I had regretted not getting a mask from Rugadoro for a year and a half, and then I had a baby. Rugadoro's masks are handmade using vintage, Italian fabrics in a patchwork style and crafted into animal shapes. They are incredibly unique. Baby Nora was getting a Rugadoro mask. Nathan and I picked out a Giraffe, but we really loved the unfinished Elephant she had hanging on the wall. She does not mail them, though, and we weren't going to be in Venice long enough for her to finish. After leaving Venice in November, just like my previous obsession for Rugadoro masks, I could not get the Elephant out of my head. I called the shop owner before the Nove trip and asked if she had an Elephant mask completed. Was she open on the Tuesday that I could be in Venice? Did she close for Riposo? Would she save Elephant for me? Was she sure? I called back to re-ask all my same questions. And Nora came home with a wonderful Elephant mask while I thought that I have a very weird life if I can just "pop into Venice" for an afternoon to pick up a mask.

Back in the November trip to Venice, my sister and I met a middle aged, American lady who had decided about a year prior that she'd always wanted to live in Venice, and she wasn't getting any younger, so she decided that if she didn't make a bold move then, she never would. She was trying to work as a masseuse, but it was difficult. Still, she loved Venice and was following a dream...and having a blast. That lady will never know how much her five minute story inspired me. The material things we've been able to collect on this European vacation are beautiful and special, but the memories, friends, and inspirational people are the true treasures that will live in our hearts.


  1. This one made me lol twice, and then get sad.
    First, your friend comparing you to a chatty TV show for entertainment; second, that you were too "wimpy" to take a picture in a Venetian mask shop, but "ba**sy" enough to document the entire Sistine Chapel ceiling while dodging Vatican Guards.
    Lastly, I sensed you saying goodbye to Europe....

  2. Your blog didn't make me sad, but Ted's comment made me cry. :-( (and laugh, especially about the Sistine Chapel, because you did the same thing when Mike and I were there with you.)