I have seen many coin purses in my life. Many of them made by very experienced and skilled artisans. Then I saw the FERRO and understood what could be accomplished when you set out to make the best possible coin purse.
After years of wondering whether our customers would pay more to get the best coin purse in the world, we finally decided to show you what we think is the best coin purse in the world and let you decide if it is for you. You should first read about who Peroni is.
I think that the first goal was: “it has to work perfectly, every time.” I put all my change in the FERRO to test it, I closed it, and right there I was sold: this coin purse is designed to stay closed with ease! Next, “is it easy to open?” Yes, easy enough with the pull tab and the amount of force required is the same every time. Next, “do the coins come out of the purse and gather in the cover?” Definitely yes. Even though I had a lot of coins they all gathered in the cover and did not fall out. The coin purse hard edges give me the feeling that it will always operate like this and I can rely on it.
As I was testing the FERRO I could not help but notice how smooth and pleasant the leather was. I am a fan of vacchetta leather, which is very genuine and somewhat raw, but to accomplish this kind of precision in a product you need leather that is smooth and precise. You too will be able to smell and feel the unmistakable artistry of Florentine leather craftsmanship. Quality leather and Italian craftsmanship can be found in other products. What makes the FERRO coin purse stand out is its design. Using a single piece of leather and 37 production steps, the FERRO does not use any stitching.
So pick one up. I doubt that you will see anything else quite like it.
Pitti is a wonderful show for us at Marcopoloni because handmade and unique high-quality products abound. The boat-loads of style, like it or not, are infectious and even I try to look my best, and even a little stylish.
One person who, instead, has style in his DNA is Marco Campomaggi. The Campomaggi booth stands out at Pitti as his style is rich and is already in touch with the wishes of the audience (it is not so far out that it gives you pause and then some). It is amazing to me to see how many and how quickly people jump on board the Campomaggi wagon. For those of us already familiar with Campomaggi, a new collection is always rich of surprises and interesting new twists. I personally was very happy with the new collection as it improved existing themes and introduced new ones that made me decide to try them. This doesn’t always happen when a new collection is introduced.
As we walked into the booth, we were welcomed by a new version of the Dolci that featured etched patterns some of which were gold plated. The etching is done by a machine but the gold plating is done by hand as is the placement of the studs, which have become ornate and, quite simply, pretty (see picture above).
As we explored the booth we saw a men’s briefcase in finely crackled that was much more attractive than a similar leather style from the past, padded nylon bags that looked great and light for travelling, new bag sizes that fit specific needs from a larger Dolci to a toiletries bag and eyeglasses cases. A line with studs on a woven leather pattern with strips about two inches wide (this looked gorgeous but heavy, heavier than the usual Campomaggi heavy), bags with black military badges on black leather that finally looked attractive (we skipped the first run of military badges), a new lineup of backpacks all with features that make sense, and more. One interesting development is the interchangeable straps for some of the bags. I tried changing a few straps on a bag and they really changed the look: great idea.
Without more photos I realize that this is just a teaser. But you don’t really want too many details since the collection won’t appear until August. However, please do get in contact with us as we are already accepting pre-orders.
This was the first time for us to go to Pitti. But we had seen plenty of reports showing men at the edge of fashion posing for pictures outside the medieval fortress (Fortezza da Basso) that hosts the event. It is really quite interesting to watch, because among the colorful coats, shoes, sunglasses, hats, and beards lie some true gems of style worth following. The rest is a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that “de gustibus…” (old Latin saying meaning “of tastes…” you cannot comment).
Then, far more subdued, are scores of impeccably dressed men who appear to be tending to important business and can careless if they are photographed. They certainly made me feel like I could use a little extra style.
These were my thoughts when we got to the Peroni booth. We saw a much more sober display that was proud to show new prototypes to be introduced later this year. As we entered the booth we began to realize that the Peroni catalog can be had to fit almost any style: the color selection seems to cover the entire spectrum… And then wow! It was then that I fell in love with something new: hardened hide eyeglasses in blue and yellow.
I haven’t given them a name yet, but they will for sure become part of the Marcopoloni catalog. I tried them on and after a few adjustments they started fitting on my head and they stopped sliding down my nose. I absolutely loved them and I bought a pair (against all rules) because I had to have them right away. Now that I have a frame I will finally go to the optometrist
Now I am the only one at the show with THESE cool glasses. I wear them with the default glass that doesn’t help me read at all, and love it. I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook and sat there admiring it while a few likes trickled in (I have a very small audience). I know. This does not sound like me, it is vain and narcissistic. But let me feel young with the confidence of the middle-aged man: it is a wonderful feeling.
I did not mention this in my previous focaccia post: I really love focaccia because the bakery in the street where I lived in Milan made excellent focaccia and I spent a few summers as a young boy in Liguria, the region where focaccia originated, and I can still taste how good that focaccia was. This is why I am so determined to have awesome focaccia again. It used to be that anywhere you went in Italy would serve decent focaccia. That is no longer the case: even in Liguria, I have walked into bakeries that did not serve good focaccia. Like with all good things, I think that it should be preserved and I am trying to teach my kids how to make it (we’ll see if I am successful in a few years.)
I don’t want to call myself an artisan, because that is such an honorific (not horrific) title that only accomplished craftsmen deserve. But artisanship requires determination as you are most likely to fail at first. As you well know, I failed miserably on my first attempt that after a couple of weeks I decided to try again. I re-read the recipe, I compared it with my notes from my first attempt and decided to learn from experience this time. The dough turned out better (I kneaded it for longer), it was properly salted, I did use a higher temperature, and, most importantly, I did pour a string of olive oil on top of the dough before it went into the oven.
New Mistakes Or Learning Lessons
Unfortunately, I fell prey of a horrific habit of mine: when I like an ingredient I use too much of it. Because salt was very lacking during my previous attempt, not only did I increase the amount of salt that went into the dough, but I got a little happy sprinkling the sale grosso (large salt) on top of the dough spread out in the pan. The result was so salty that it was inedible. After scraping some of the salt I really enjoyed it but it was still too salty because it wasn’t possible to remove enough salt. Too bad! I had the top salt measured correctly the first time… Couldn’t I do the same thing?
Another thing that wasn’t ideal was the oven temperature. I used 420 Fahrenheit this time and tested it a little too soon. The crust was hard and the dough wasn’t fully cooked when I first cut it so I had to put it back.
What Will I Do Differently Next Time
It’s pretty obvious that next time I will use less large salt and will try to go back to 395 degrees for a little longer than 20 minutes. If that works I might be celebrating and you will hear about it 🙂
I am constantly trying to expand my Italian cooking horizon. When I try something new I usually fail and this time was no different. My lifelong passion for artisanally made products manifests itself at home with my desire to master Italian cooking. In particular, I love handmade pasta. But before I can deliver delicious creations I have to learn how to make them right, something that takes time and dedication.
Likewise, our very accomplished artisans, go through a similar cycle. A lot of sweat, blood, and tears accompany the introduction of a new product. And the first run sometimes is not the best and later variants surpass it in some way. That is the inevitable value of experience, and, when you think that Imperio Rossi has dedicated more than 50 years to making Murano glass, you realize that experience and dedication mean a lot.
Failure Is Simply Part of The Learning Process
Now, my focaccia was edible, but it was light years away from tasting like the focaccia I enjoyed growing up in Italy. I realized some mistakes and there are some changes I would consider next time. My mistakes were that I didn’t sprinkle the focaccia with a drizzle of oil before putting it in the oven, that I didn’t put enough salt in the dough itself, that I baked it for too long. Next time I am going to make a smaller batch so that I have less to eat in case it doesn’t turn out well. I am also going to knead it for longer after the dough has risen, and I might use a bit higher oven temperature. With these changes alone I expect a better result next time, but whether or not that is enough to make the perfect focaccia remains to be seen.
I have seen my artisans fail in the process of creating the perfect product. Some of the early Campomaggi wallets, for example, had a little too much character built in with credit card slots that were too tight for credit cards or shapes that were pretty far from rectangular. I have seen him make leather jackets that were absolutely awesome, but totally uncomfortable. We now have great wallets by Campomaggi, and I bet that some day we will have totally awesome leather jackets as well. Failure is simply part of the learning process.
Erase The Memory of Failure
What erases the memory of failure is trying again and again and finally getting it right. I am not going to give up on focaccia. Just like with my Tortellini Mantovani, I will eventually get it right.
And when I do get it right, it is going to be so awesome! And that awesomeness is my passion.
You might know Baha. Baha is a jeweler in New York whose artisanship is amazing.
When it comes to delivering his more expensive masterpieces Baha needed something that even he couldn’t create. An outstanding jewelry box worthy of the treasure it holds.
When he came to me for help, I immediately thought of Peroni, who, among many other things, also makes jewelry boxes. And, as you should expect, they are not just any jewelry boxes. Unlike the eyeglasses cases, which are made of hardened leather, Peroni jewelry boxes use the same leather wrapped around a wooden box. The wood supplies the hardness while the leather without any stitches gives it an amazingly luxurious feel.
Unfortunately, just like we can’t carry a catalog of Baha’s jewelry, we have not grown enough to carry Peroni’s jewelry boxes, yet. Baha is going to customize his (if he decides to go forward with them) by engraving his logo with gold leaf. If they arrive I will make sure to take pictures and show them to you. This leads me to the point of this post: if you are on a quest to find something extremely unique, high quality, and authentic, please get in touch with me as that is my passion and I would love nothing more than embark on the quest.
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How do you explain skilled artisanship to people who have never seen a skilled artisan at work, let alone a group of artisans cooperate seamlessly in perfect synchronization? I found that it is really tough and in most cases better to leave the word handmade out of the discussion.
I do what I do because I grew up frequently admiring skilled artisans at work all around Italy. Because of that experience, I have witnessed what can happen before a product reaches the store shelves and in some cases that is close to magic. To get the point across we have redesigned our home page to show a video of Imperio Rossi, Mario Costantini, and a serventino (Mauro) work together to produce a tumbler. The way they can work on multiple products at the same time and separate the task of performing different aspects of the production process is like clock work–clearly the result of years of experience. Not too surprising if you consider that Imperio got started at age 13 in 1964. Fifty-one years of experience must mean something!
When Imperio started working on something more complicated, like a carafe, I could not believe the motions that he had mastered and memorized to attach a handle in the perfect shape. The awe grew when they had me try to pick out a blob of glass from the furnace for them. I tried but I got too little and it immediately fell off my canna because I wasn’t spinning it fast enough.
All of our artisans know something that sets them apart from everybody else. This is the value of know-how and to you it means that their products are unique and the best expression of their kind in the world. To me, that’s a creation worth having.
Much attention is given to our beautiful leather handbags here at Marcopoloni. But we also carry lots of other handmade products you may not have discovered yet. One of our most unusual collections is the work of Antartidee. Based in Reggio Emilia, a city in Northern Italy, Antartidee artists Mauro and Roby and their team have been designing and hand-painting their bold clocks, wall hooks and decorations since 1986.
This wall hook is our most extreme example of Antartidee’s sense of fun and fancy:
OK, we understand the FLIPPENDINO middle finger wall hook may not be for everyone (though it could make a very amusing retirement or going away gift for someone with a fine sense of humor). Antartidee’s clocks in the style of Surrealist painter Salvador Dali are especially popular. Here are a few of our best sellers:
Here at Marcopoloni, we seek to bring you products with a soul – the original, the unique, always handmade (or at least, hand-painted) in an ethical manner with respect given to all workers. In doing so, we hope to introduce our customers to new artists whose work they can be proud to own. Check out our full line of Antartidee products here.
One of the most successful websites to offer handmade, artisan products – Etsy – quietly changed its policies last Fall and allowed in manufacturers. One year later and the site is flooded with items like $3 wrap bracelets supposedly “handmade” in China. Many of the true artisans on Etsy have seen their business plummet as their goods are much harder to find among Etsy’s one-million-plus storefronts.
Even as the movement toward handmade, local, artisan-produced products grows, there is a struggle to define and maintain true handmade status. Etsy broadened its definition of handmade to include “partnering with manufacturers.” Yet they still define themselves as “a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods.” The same thing has happened in Italy, where companies selling leather goods are allowed to ship pieces overseas and have most of the manufacturing done there while still using the “Made in Italy” label.
At Marcopoloni, our owners travel to Italy every summer to visit the artisans who make many of the leather goods for sale on our site. We are able to see with our own eyes that these products are truly handmade, and offer that assurance to people who buy from our site. So, if you are looking for true handmade products, you have come to the right place!
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.
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 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.