Italy is famous for its centuries-old artisan traditions. When travelling around the Boot I always look for local Italian crafts and try to support artisan businesses. Not long ago I came across a book “Made in Italy: A Shopper’s Guide to Italy’s Best Artisanal Traditions from Murano Glass to Ceramics, Jewelry, Leather Goods, and More” by Laura Morelli. It is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to shop responsibly while in Italy. I got in contact with the author. She kindly answered my questions and offered a copy of the book as a prize. Please read to the end to find out about the giveaway!
Do you travel to Italy often?
I go to Italy as often as I can. I lived in a small village near Monza for four years, and my first child was born there. My research for Made in Italy took me from the Alps to the islands, combing over every region of Italy.
What is your favorite place for crafts shopping in Italy?
Some of the best places are off the beaten track and outside of the major cities. Among my favorites are the Umbrian ceramics hill towns of Deruta, Gualdo Tadino, and Gubbio. I also love Sardinia for its truly ancient and visually unique traditions. The Valle d’Aosta and the Dolomites are great places to find beautiful works you may not immediately associate with Italian craftspeople: ceramic stoves, lace, even cuckoo clocks!
What do you like the most about traditional Italian crafts?
As an art historian, of course I love the objects themselves, but it’s the stories and the people behind these great traditions that bring Italian artisanal history to life. My mission is to enhance readers’ appreciation of the most typical handcrafted traditions of each of Italy’s 18 regions. I want to lead people beyond the tourist traps to discover the stories and the people behind extraordinary regional traditions like Tuscan terra-cotta, Venetian marble paper, Neapolitan papier-mâché angels, Volterra alabaster, Sicilian marionettes, and Alpine copper cookware. I try to share what makes the regions and their world-class products special, and to help travelers bring home great values in their suitcases.
What is your advice to responsible travelers looking for authentic gifts?
Buy what’s traditional in each place, and buy directly from the maker whenever possible. It’s your best guarantee that you will go home with a high-quality, handmade item at the best possible price. The added bonus of getting to know the maker of a carnival mask, for example, and perhaps even watch it being made, is invaluable.
About the book: “Made in Italy” is organized by region, and takes the reader on a complete tour of the artisanal legacy of Italy, uncovering one-of-a-kind hidden workshops and off-the-beaten-path streets.
About the author: Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. She has taught at Trinity College in Rome and several universities in the U.S, and regularly speaks about art history to museum and public audiences across the U.S. and Europe. She is the author of The Gondola Maker, Made in Italy, and other books.
To celebrate the Green Holiday Italy move to the new website design I am hosting a book giveaway: an autographed copy of “Made in Italy” by Laura Morelli is waiting for a lucky winner.
To enter the giveaway please “like” Green Holiday Italy’s Facebook page and leave a comment below this post to tell us that you have done so by Friday midnight (CST). You will be allowed an extra entry if you follow the blog by email (see on the right Sidebar) and leave a comment to tell us about it.
The winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org and Laura Morelli will post you a signed copy of the book.
Photos Flickr by(clockwise from the left): Michela Simoncini, TuscanyArts, artnbarb, Wei-Duan Woo, Giulio Riotto.
The giveaway is closed.