Artisanal Gelato

Affresco helps gelato craftspeople perfect and market their product.

In Italy summers are pretty hot and it stays nice and warm on most evenings. After spending the day evaluating so many products in the new Campomaggi collection, I was ready to chill with a nice gelato. Actually, that night I was in the mood for an even more refreshing granita and decided to try a new ice cream shop with Emi and Chiara. Sidebar: after we arrived in Italy we quickly discovered that Marco would also like to have gelato and he gets really, really upset that he can’t have any yet so we waited until he fell asleep.

We went to Affresco, which turns out to be one of many independently owned gelaterie that draw on the experience of renowned Italian gelato craftspeople and a team of people who design the store layout.

Affresco helps gelato craftspeople perfect and market their product.
Affresco helps gelato craftspeople perfect and market their product. I tried only one location where I noticed a clear difference in the quality of the gelato.

When I finally (the line was long) got my granita (shaved ice) all menta (mint) I was astounded. I was quickly reminded, yet again, of the difference between a mass-produced product and one carefully refined by people who care. I was expecting the usual crushed ice with mint flavored sugary syrup. Maybe they were able to trick me with a syrup that finally tasted like it was made from fresh mint leaves. I have lots of mint in my yard and what I got tasted exactly like it and I am convinced that it was actually made from fresh mint leaves. The ice was also finely crushed and the product was very enjoyable and refreshing: exactly as I had envisioned.

This granita alla menta (mint) tastes like real mint. I have mint in my yard and I know what it should taste like. This was the first time that I found a perfect match.
This granita alla menta (mint) tastes like real mint. I have mint in my yard and I know what it should taste like. This was the first time that I found a perfect match.

This is the experience that I want to provide to my customers. When a product is made by people who care enough to seek and use the best ingredients for their work, and use skills developed over a lifetime aided by generations of refinements, the outcome is usually a notch or two better than the mass produced imitation.

Chiara And Her Italia Artisanal Leather Sandals

When the Maledetti Toscani shoes arrived we received three models of children shoes that we wanted Chiara and Marco to wear. Marco doesn’t walk yet and his foot is smaller than the smallest size we got: he will have to wait until fall. Chiara instead still fits in the largest size Italia leather sandals.

Although Chiara doesn’t spontaneously say “thank you” or “daddy, this is one amazing pair of shoes” she did say that they are “super-comfortable” but, what is more telling, she wore them every day she was allowed to do so (they don’t allow open toe shoes at summer camp).

The sandals have already taken their share of abuse. In Italy we have to walk a lot (one of the reasons why Italians care so much about shoe quality) so the sole is dirty but still shows no wear and tear. Other than walking the shoes seem to have undergone a rigorous series of tests: jumping, landing from heights in excess of four feet high, skipping, hopping on one or two feet, forwards, backwards, sideways, running, walking on ledges, balancing on narrow platforms, swinging, sliding, climbing, and some other things that I cannot possibly imagine that resulted in some little scratches on the upper part of the sole, the part that comes in contact with the foot.

The upper part of the sandals and the straps are still in surprisingly good shape. They still look beautiful and clean, even though they are mostly white and they went through the above multiple times (almost daily).

I am happy to have given her such joy. She feels like a princess and is happy to wear them. I really hope that she will outgrow them and that they will be able to be handed down.

Maledetti Toscani Is 100 Percent Made in Italy

At Marcopoloni we are 100 percent committed to offering authentic products.  We started the business with that goal and over the last ten years we have seen countless companies say that they offer Made in Italy, experienced, artisanal quality while, in reality, they were cutting corners every step of the way. Some hide behind the requirement that at least 60 percent of the value of the product needs to be Italian to be allowed to put made in Italy on the label; some use inexperienced immigrant labor; some use cheaper leather; some use industrial processes; and many use a combination of all of the above.

While we respect the ability of such businesses to make money, we feel that cutting corners results in a different product and a different experience for the customer. If you think that Parmesan cheese made in Wisconsin is the same as Parmigiano Reggiano made in Parma or Reggio Emilia, please move on elsewhere because you will not find any cheap imitations here.

While at dinner, Alessandro Quadri (one of the owners at Maledetti Toscani) and I decided that it is time for us to go beyond just talking about the difference, we need to show the difference. During the next two days I hope to document as much of it as possible.

One Week with My Campomaggi Studded Belt Pouch

My Nicola and I arrived safely in Italy.  I have worn it everyday and quickly realized that I had room to spare. So, on occasion, I carried a small cell phone in the inner pocket along with my Moneta coin compartment wallet, and my still useful Galaxy SII in the outer pocket outside the Note 3.

Traveling with two small children is not very easy as demand for your hands is at its peak. Having a reliable pouch that stores your phone and wallet seems indispensable. It feels that I am constantly reaching for my phone, whether it is to capture a memory or to find my way around.

I even got two unexpected compliments for it by people who knew their pouches. The best comment was: “better than Prada” while the most insightful was to be careful not to scratch the car as you get in and out. I have said it before that the Nicola does not seem to get in the way. I am sure that I will bang it into something eventually but that doesn’t seem to be my problem yet.
So far the Nicola studded belt pouch is the perfect companion on our exploratory part of our trip. No one has ever tried to pick-pocket from it so far even though Emi caught me with one (and sometimes both) button open. Next, we are going to visit our artisans.

Gotta Have More Vitendino

The vitendino: I might get carried away with it. Most of the time I can live without it, but, when I start thinking that I should hang my bag somewhere when I come home instead of hanging it on my dining chair, I get visions of having multiple Vitendini decorating the entrance walls. If I let myself daydream long enough I will be thinking about the streams of Vitendini in every room including the garage.

The reality is that i don’t even know the capacity of the Vitendino. So I don’t know if it is fit to hold the weight of a bag full with my laptop and a few random essentials: it can be pretty heavy. I will find out on July 14 when we visit Antartidee, or, if I forget to ask, the plan is to find out by trial and error.

Strangely, it is the lack of this knowledge that has kept me from trying it. It’s a catch-22 that has paralyzed me for over a year. Luckily, I recently made a breakthrough: I talked to Emi and she said that it would be great if we had a few of them on our wall by the doorway.

So at least now I have a license to try it at home and see how well it performs. I can’t wait to get back from Italy and try it so that I can report my findings and finally have a solution to my bag-hanging problem.

I Needed a Belt Loop Pouch For My New Note 3

A belt pouch for the Note 3 and iPhone 6
I was happy with my Daniele. But since I got the Note 3 I had to get something the right size. The Nicola seems designed for it.

We are going to Italy next week and my two-and-a-half-year-old phone started to conveniently act up. So I had to get a new phone and, since Emi had such a good experience with her Note 3, I decided to go with the same because I wanted to be able to blog while on the road. So now that I have it I thought that blogging about my new belt pouch would be an ideal place to start.

At first I thought that no belt pouches would fit the huge Note 3. But Emi was quick to point out that the Nicola Campomaggi Leather Belt Pouch should fit it. Knowing that I could have had easy access to my note three by using a Campomaggi leather belt pouch is what actually convinced me to make the Note 3 purchase. My combination of Daniele and Samsung S2 had been so successful that I was really not ready to abandon it.

Once the decision to pick the Nicola was finalized I had to choose a color. I chose the Distressed Espresso because I didn’t have bags from Campomaggi in that color yet while I do have nice belts in Espresso. Distressed olive-brown is my favorite color but distressed espresso is a close second or third, and it turned out that we had a lighter espresso in stock that really showed a lot of gradient which, in my opinion, really accentuates the quality of Campomaggi leather. The one that I picked has some red tones in it. It is a beautiful specimen.

I have been wearing it all day today and I have to say that it is really comfortable. So far it never got in my way and the buttons, which I thought would be hard to operate and close, are really secure and they are easy to open and close. Other than that, I need more experience with it to be able to talk about it. So I am going to leave for Italy and try to see if I can blog from there next week.