Over the last few years we have focused on survival and have been importing only products that have become our staples: Italian terracotta, French Anduze pottery and hand-thrown Greek terracotta pots. Pre-Recession, Eye of the Day traveled throughout the world and brought back some amazing things for our customers. These one-of-a-kind items coupled with our large inventory of antique oil jars from Italy, Greece, Spain and France have helped see us through slow times. We often hear that our customers are amazed with our large inventory and what a pleasure it is to be able to find items for their projects.
Many of our special finds have been sold so now it is time to begin exploring the shops and fairs throughout Europe looking for old jars, pieces of stone, architectural iron and funk that just seems to work in a garden. I look forward to keeping you updated with my wanderings and great finds over the next few weeks, and hope that you may find something to tickle your fancy that you just can’t live without.
Many who know about my wanderings comment that I am lucky to travel around the world and that you wish it were you. I sometimes wish it were you too and that I could just stay home, read, give Suzi a wish list for each meal and try to burn through a cord or two of oak in our fireplace. But reality is different, and I find myself with an emptiness in my stomach, feeling homesick before I ever leave.
The ambivalence of arriving in Rome with a cold and my luggage still somewhere at Heathrow keeps me from going to my favorite dive in the ghetto for baby artichokes fried in olive oil. Instead, I sleep for eight hours and have a marginally decent pizza in the hotel bar (how bad can a pizza be in Rome?).
Finally I catch the last train to Chiusi and meet up with Marcello, owner of Terrecotte San Rocco. We drive to his home in the hills of Siena where his wife and mother, Nona, have a pot of pesto al Genovese ready and tonight a platter full of prosciutto and a variety of salumi. It could definitely be worse. After dinner Nona brings out a small bottle of deep amber liquid, a Christmas gift from an old friend. There are no labels or foil and it looks to be hand-corked. My mouth begins to water. I hope it is a local Vin Santo. The pruny, sherry-like liquid makes me almost forget the three dozen oysters and magnum of champagne we had with our daughter in Brooklyn on Christmas morning. Almost.
New Years Eve day we are off to a nearby town for a big antique fair. It is sparsely attended which gives me a little breathing room to adjust to my antiquing personality. Walking up and down the steep cobblestone streets of the ancient Tuscan hill town is hard work and makes me hungry. There is not time to sit down to the wonderful food in a local restaurant, but I find a nice salumeria and a sandwich of excellent prosciutto, pecorino and to my friend’s surprise, a few thin slices of lardo. A glass of local vino rosso in a plastic cup and I’m back pounding the cobbles. I find many interesting, but highly priced items, and then find a dealer who wants to bargain…
Below are some photos of some beautiful antiques that I found during my trip to the antique fair. More to come!
On New Year’s Day I wake up late but I’m glad that the house is quiet. It allows me to organize my week ahead at the factory. My partner, Marcello, is the most progressive manufacturer in Italy. In the afternoon he shows me a new factory he just started with a partner to produce quality terracotta for large garden centers. While older, traditional terracotta manufacturers are going out of business, Marcello is buying their factories and their molds and working to develop new items. Our association with this man and his business is becoming to be the backbone of Eye of the Day.
Bologna and a little spaghetti. After that I’m off to France to pick up a special order for a new landscape architecture firm wanting pots from Anduze that we don’t have in stock. It will be an experiment renting a truck in Italy, driving to France for the pots and take them back to Italy to put on the container. We are about to find out if this will be less expensive, faster and more productive than shipping by truck from France to Italy or shipping by pallet from Marseille.