April Fool’s Day is Pesce d’Aprile in Italy!

Pesce d'Aprile!

It looks like almost all countries in the Western World somehow celebrate on the first day of April of every year. Everyone seems to do it in a different way though, and if some countries celebrate the day with practical jokes and general foolishness only until noon, in Italy – like in the US – it goes on all day long!

The traditional April Fool’s trick (pesce d’Aprile) takes place in the schools. There is no clearly defined victim and literally everybody from students to teachers and staff employees can end up this day with one or more paper drawings of a fish taped somewhere on them, usually on his/her back!

Everybody makes up the weirdest excuses to hug or pat you on the back that day. It becomes a real game to make a fool of the poor…fish!

But this whole thing goes beyond school scenes. Adults have their own dose of silliness on April Fool’s Day and even authorities, such as politicians and media, are often involved!

They usually make a shocking statement or publish odd news that are often so well thought-out that it is really hard to judge if they’re real or not. And you usually have to wait until April 2nd to find out, when the media rank the best jokes!

I still remember the joke pulled off by a local government agency that had recently been hit by a huge scandal in which female police officers posed for a sexy calendar in their uniforms (which sold out before the initiative could be aborted, by the way). It was a well-known fact that this agency was no going well financially, so they published the news that, due to the success of the police calendar, they were going to raise money by making a similar calendar!

Now, I know that here this might not sound as shocking, but if you think about a small town in Italy in which everybody knows almost everybody else and 99% of the population is Catholic….well, you get the picture! The reaction was quite funny…

My favorite April Fool’s Day, though, was the one from 4 years ago, when all my friends managed to make a real fool of me!

I was moving to the US soon and among all the things I had to do before leaving, this birthday party came up. A new addition to our group, someone’s new girlfriend, was turning 28? I don’t really remember her age…

As you can imagine, I couldn’t have cared less considering the timing and the fact that I barely knew her! But since she was in the circle and I could not ignore the whole thing, my friends got me all busy and worried like usual about finding a birthday gift for her and other arrangements!
When I got to the party location, I obviously ran in, hugged her and wished her “Happy Birthday” right? What was I supposed to do?

Well, at that moment, the entire place started laughing and the birthday girl started yelling at me (because in Italy you can wish “Happy Birthday” to somebody only on the actual day or on the following few days or it is said to bring bad luck to the person) … then I noticed this huge poster on the back wall of the room that said “Bye, bye, Eliana. Come back soon!” It was my farewell party!

Campomaggi Teodorano on the Label

Campomaggi Teodorano label
Campomaggi badge

I had found this out on the first day I held a Campomaggi bag, because they told me when I visited the Campomaggi offices in San Carlo di Cesena – yet, not everybody seems to know why the label on Campomaggi bags says: “Campomaggi Teodorano”.

Marco Campomaggi was born on 2/25/61 in Teodorano (in the province of Forlì, now Forlì-Cesena). For all those people who thought Mr. Campomaggi’s name was Teodorano, now you know.

Having solved the mystery, now I want to speculate as to why he created the label the way he did. I probably better ask Marco next time I talk to him, but this is what I think. The Campomaggi brand was started as a way to go back to his passion–what got him started designing bags when he was in high school.

By putting his birthplace and birthdate on the bags, I believe that Marco is telling us that these bags are his expression of what his soul inspires, something that was not born when he started making bags, but on the day and in the place where he was born.

Locanda Acquavita in Venice: a Sleepless Hotel

I recently went to Murano and stayed in Venice on the cheap. I booked at Locanda Acquavita because it is quiet and close to the vaporetto stop that takes you to Murano (by the way, watch out because there are two stops at Fondamente Nuove, one before the Murano Loop and one after, so make sure to read the direction you are taking–i.e. 42 or 41, I forget, direzione Murano!). Unfortunately I got 3 and a half hours of sleep before an important meeting so I think that something has to be said for an otherwise fine B&B that is run on cruise control except between 8am and 12pm. Here is my review:

I’m not a light sleeper, I’m even deaf in one ear–something that makes falling asleep much easier in noisy situations–but with a phone locked in a closet outside your room ringing literally all evening, all night, and all morning long, I have to warn you that you might be in for a very miserable and frustrating time.
Also, the bathroom is tiny, there is no shower although there is a shower head. And the mirror on the ceiling made me say: “chicabowuang”.
Without the phone ringing, and with full disclosure about the bathroom this would have been an acceptable stay. I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep, so I am none too pleased.

Campomaggi US Service Center?

During recent conversation with Antonella, Marcopoloni is exploring the opportunity to expand its highly rated service operations to owners of Campomaggi bags in the United States who did not purchase their bags from Marcopoloni.

The problem is that it is not possible to ship leather goods to Italy due to government restrictions. Of course, legislation is on the books to allow the return of defective products, but the reality is that, as I have painfully experienced just last year, duties and VAT get charged even on returned bags, and, of course, they get charged again when the repaired bag returns to the United States. If customs in Italy needs additional documentation, you can expect the process to become lengthy and burdensome.

The possibility of a Campomaggi Service Center in the US is still under discussion. Please stay tuned for further posts on this subject. In the meantime, if you need to have a Campomaggi bag serviced in the US and you did not purchase it from Marcopoloni, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you and provide a quote for any services.

Women’s Day (Festa della Donna): Girls Night Out or just Flowers?

Mimosa Flower

Across Italy and many other countries, March 8th is known as Women’s Day (or “Festa della Donna”).

Some say it celebrates historical achievements such as women’s right to vote, some say it’s in memory of a tragic fire which killed all of the women who worked in a textile company in New York, and still others say it was originated in Russia, and so on.

What is for sure is that in Italy it has become a symbolic event, where men celebrate the women in their lives in a way somewhat akin to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

As for how women feel about celebrating their being women, I believe they can be divided into 2 camps: the ones that like to do something special with other women that day, and the ones that lock themselves in the house because they think it’s the worst day of the year to go out … after all, there are only women out!

Personally I’ve always been part of the second group. I think we are special every day and we don’t need somebody to tell us on March 8th that we are, do we?

I do like receiving flowers though. I should say that I liked receiving flowers … since after I moved to the States, the fact that Women’s Day is not celebrated here turned out to be quite a convenient excuse for my husband to forget to buy me some!

Anyway, I don’t know of a woman out there that wouldn’t smile if somebody showed up at her door with a bouquet of flowers. And if you are a man, you should know that the traditional gift given on Women’s Day in Italy is the yellow mimosa. Italian men usually buy a mimosa bouquet on their way home from work and present it to their wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc. The nicer ones bring some to their female co-workers as well. But the sweetest thing I remember about Women’s Day goes back to my school days.

In fact, starting from elementary school, boys buy flowers for the girls in their class. Isn’t that sweet? I think it is, even though the other side of the story is a sad one for some of the girls, as the whole thing usually becomes a competition to see who received more flowers at the end of the day …

But the Italian tradition now goes beyond flowers. Many women will do a girls’ night out. Restaurants have special menus for them. No matter where you go on Women’s Day in Italy, there will be plenty of women out to celebrate in “women-only” dinners and parties!

Now, I know today is already March 7th, but you still have time to celebrate womanhood on Women’s Day this year. Whatever you decide to do, just remember that you are special all year around!

“There is no great man without a great woman on his side”, my mom used to tell me when I was little. I think she’s right, and the story of King George VI, celebrated on the big screen by Oscar winning actor Colin Firth in the movie, King’s Speech, confirms it all!

Sunflower Keychain Staff Review

Eliana's Leather Sunflower Keychain
My Leather Sunflower Keychain - Looking Better After Years of Use!

I fell in love with the GIRASOLE – Italian Leather Sunflower Keychain – the same day I joined Marcopoloni and had the chance to see these handmade creations in person. I really should say that that day I fell in love with almost all of Gianni’s leather key chains and many other products, but somehow the sunflower keychain was that first thing I wanted to get my hands on. A few days later I got to take one of these incredible leather miniatures to carry my new office keys –  and that is how I got my sunflower key chain!

The attention to detail is quite impressive, but what struck me since the first moment I saw these key chains was the idea of an artisan sewing them stich by stitch, entirely by hand. They are little. They are well done. They are pretty and unique. To me, these leather miniatures represent all the passion and love that a country like Italy (my country!) and its traditions are all about.

After seeing my sunflower, my sister asked me to send her a few of these key chains. And after her, my mom started collecting them!

For more than two years now I have been carrying and using my Girasole every day. I simply love the way its shape is not bulky at all, but at the same time it is so distinguished that it makes it extremely easy for me to find my office keys when I rummage through my purse.

It also looks great! The leather aged very well, the stitching that holds the leather pieces together is still in perfect condition, and overall the keychain doesn’t show any intention of abandoning me anytime soon! (Even if it did I probably wouldn’t let it go anyway!)

TIP: save yourself the time of trying to choose one favorite among Gianni’s novelty key chains, because you’ll soon realize that you can NOT own just one!