insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the category “umbria”

Natale con i tuoi…


The Italians have a famous saying: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi…” (Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you want) This was a phrase I heard countless number of times during my Christmas vacation to Italy last year.

What do you think about this phrase? I hope to get responses from native Italians, Italo-philes and non-Italians as well. Do you agree or disagree, and why? I will reveal my thoughts in a later post…


*homesick* per la Madre terra

“At times it returns, in the motionless calm of the day, that memory of living immersed, absorbed in that stunned light.”     — Cesare Pavese, “The Night”

Tonight, Italy was on my mind. The country where I spent 7 glorious months of my life bombarded my memory so much that I just had to blog about it. Perhaps its because this summer, my poolside reading list includes the book “La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language” by Dianne Hales. In fact, it’s also because several of my friends and acquaintances are visiting Italia this summer and, since I am apparently the “expert” in this case, wanted me to recommend the best places to wine, dine and explore. And it is definitely because I share a kindred spirit with two of the kids in the painting class I am teaching this week, Alessandro and Mariella, whose papà hails from Roma. Whatever the case, I am homesick for the Motherland and desperately wish to return in the near future.

It is hard to imagine that 6 years ago this month, I left what I now nostalgically refer to as the “Motherland” for a foreign country I had left behind 4 months prior. Tears streamed down my face as my flight took off from Roma-Fiumicino Aeroporto, as reality finally hit. I never knew that time away from all I once held dear could change a person so drastically.

My experiences in Italy, both studying abroad + living in a 16th Century convent in Orvieto and interning at a contemporary art gallery in Milano, certainly changed me in more ways than one. In some ways, I like to think I was healed from all the baggage that once weighed me down… feelings of imperfection and fear… no longer prevail in my life. Rather, a deep awareness for the world and people around me, coupled with an adventurous spirit and curiosity, redeemed me completely. Gli italiani are to thank, of course, for they are amongst the kindest of souls and would certainly go out of their way to help and love a stranger in need. Heck, I even tried to relocate there at one point in my life…

I hope to share my next Italian adventures with a close friend who has walked some of life’s rockiest paths with me. Until then, I will daydream until I can see the zigzag cypress trees on the hill below Orvieto, hear la bella lingua spoken at the morning open-air markets, touch the grapes that will eventually be made into wine, taste the creamy goodnesss of many licks of gelato and smell the aroma of fresh foccacia bread in the brick oven.

Non sono italiana, but I wouldn’t mind being one again… for life.

reinventing an all’antica tradition

Black. Textured. Tangible.These adjectives alone can only begin to describe the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into these bucchero wares, created by an extremely talented and passionate ceramicist from Orvieto, Italy. Anna Spallaccia’s work has taken contemporary ceramics to another dimension. In her small yet quaint shop on Vicolo dei Dolci, 2, across from the splendid Orvieto Duomo, one can find an interesting collection of objects (from jewelry to bowls, candle holders to decorative spheres) created in the bucchero tradition. She combines the ancient techniques of firing this black terracotta (so to speak) wear with the etching of contemporary designs, the revival of an all’antica tradition into this art form that also looks forward, while at the same time, takes inspiration from past traditions.

This indigenous art form was dominated by the Etruscans (who resided in what we know of today as the provence of Umbria in Central Italy), from the 5th to 7th Century A.D. At that time, this process of firing was new and revolutionary. This “smelly earth” type of clay (derived from the word “bucaro”, which signifies such in Portuguese, always presents a chromatic composition of black, uniform tonality, with a bright and superficial glean on the surface. The types of objects produced are therefore more purified, maybe mixed with carbon and came out of an extremely advanced technique. Like terracotta, when one lightly taps these bucchero wares, one can find that although the objects may appear to be durable, there is a distinct echo that bounces off the metal. These wares, when produced, turn out to be either light or heavyweight, and can be reproduced in many different forms.

Above all, Anna Spallaccia’s bucchero ware stands out because of her unique ways of implementing designs. Back in the days of the Etruscans, the typical designs found on these utilitarian wares consisted of graffiti, horses, symbols and other figures. Today, Anna has created a conceptual landscape on each of these wares, combining an assortment of shapes, lines dots and swirls. Certain parts are removed and interesting shapes are made to render a more contemporary look for the art of today. Pieces may look similar, but no two pieces are exactly the same. These designs may be minimalist, but they never fail to add a dash of pizzazz to yet another “white cube” contemporary art gallery, or to someone’s modernist living room. In fact, Anna’s bucchero ware is the perfect example of how one can combine an ancient tradition with the stylistic attitude of our post-post modern times.

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