Our Artisans and Their Products

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.

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

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.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

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.

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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!

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Our Artisans and Their Products

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!

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Our Artisans and Their Products

Planning my Visit to Murano

In early March I am going to visit Maestro Imperio Rossi in Murano.  Going to Murano also means visiting Venice, the birthplace of Marco Polo who inspired our company name and our quest to bring artisans and those who appreciate their products together, across great distances.

As I wrote in my History of Murano Glass, the town of Murano has such a great artistic tradition in glass making that this feels like a pilgrimage to me. My goal is to get to know a lot more about the products that we have started adding last year. The production process is so complicated and there are so many glass types in use that one can always learn something new by going to Murano, and that is what I am very much looking forward to do.

I also hope to see products that I had not seen before that I will want to order and bring to our customers. If you are a fan of Maestro Imperio Rossi and his wonderful creations, make sure to contact me and I will make sure to look at your favorite Murano glass creations.

Finally, I hope to find out more about Marco Polo but, unfortunately, the house where his spent his youth burned down in 1598 (so moving the glass factories to Murano was not enough!) and there seems to be very little to commemorate his life in Venice.

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Fenoci in Salata – Fennel Salad Recipe

This week I was looking for an alternative side dish to our usual salad and I decided to try a fennel salad recipe I found in my Cucino Io cookbook.

The recipe calls for

  • 4 fennels
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon of grated parsely
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • flour
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • pepper

You start by cutting off the top of each fennel, washing it, and placing it in a pot filled with boiling water. Add the lemon and the flour to the water to keep the fennel as close to white as possible. Cook uncovered until the fennel is thoroughly cooked. At that point, drain, dry, and cut.

In the meatime, finely mince the anchovies and place at the bottom of a plate along with pepper, the Parmigiano Reggiano, and the minced parsley. Then add the vinegar and mix well with a fork until you obtain a creamy paste. Add the olive oil (a couple of tablespoons or slightly more), and add some salt to taste.

Cut up the fennels and pour the sauce on the fennels.

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Marcopoloni, the Tiny Business

How to Format Pictures Using Cascading Style Sheets

Today I am going to skip working on taxes all day long and try to learn how to nicely style the History of Murano Glass page that I created the other day. I am going to do so by learning a couple of the Cascading Style Sheets tricks that Emi is so good at using.

Emi has more experience styling content and I am definitely jealous. My knowledge of cascading style sheets is average at best and I tend to use them improperly out of old habit. Plus, I tend to forget some of the things that I learn. For example, how do you get a photo to nest with the paragraph and not push the text below it? I know that I’ve done it before, but… When I try to wrap text around a picture I always get only one line of text to the side of the picture and the rest goes below… something that looks awful! If I were a little more enterprising, I would go look at a page I like and find out the styles that were used and reverse engineer the process. Perhaps that is what I should do, but it still sounds a little daunting. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have the pro tell you how to do it?

Yes! It would DEFINITELY be easier. Emi has agreed to help after lunch. I will make sure to create some sample files and save them on our intranet for future reference. I am also going to save a “before” version of the page so that I can look back and see how bad I was.

OK, now I’m done. The first thing I had to decide was the layout. Instead of our usual two column format, we thought that a three column format would make the article easier to read. To create 3 columns I took our existing layout which has a div (id=containerBody) that contains the entire page, then 2 divs (id=sideLinks to the left and id=contentSideLinks) inside the containerBody div for the navigation bar and the actual body of the page. To add the third column I created two divs (id=contentSideLinksBody and id=contentSideLinksMore) inside the contentSideLinks divand made the first one float left and the second one float right.

That was pretty easy. I had to make sure that the width of the divs did not exceed the width of the div that contained them. Then to create some spacing between the two, I added padding-left: 30px; to the right div (contentSideLinksMore). The padding gets added to the width so, I had to reduce the width by 30px to make sure that the second div would fit to the right of the left one.

Then I formatted my text by creating some sections with headings, I cut the long article into two pages, and got to my holy grail: embedding photos with text and make sure that the text wraps around the photo. What I figured was that this would happen automatically if you properly placed an img tag inside a p tag. The reality is that you have to define a class for float: left; and a class for float: right; and use the former for pictures aligned to the left and the latter for pictures aligned to the right.

When I was done, my History of Murano Glass article looked a lot better and I had the basis for formatting a lot of other articles.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

History of Murano Glass

I have always been fascinated with Murano glass and have become even more curious about it since we have started selling Maestro Imperio Rossi’s products. This has led me to wanting to know the history of Murano glass. After reading countless articles online I have created my own article: Murano Glass History.

I had to reconcile a few conflicting facts and, as it is sometimes is the case with history, could not rely on a definitely correct source. So if you find some inaccuracies in my article please point them out. I look forward to talking to Sara Rossi about this as I am sure that I will be able to fill a lot of gaps. The research was very interesting, though. I did not know about the quest to make clear glass, and did not know that clear glass was accomplished in Murano.

I also left a few tidbits of history out because I want to research them some more. I expect to update the article after my trip to Murano in March.

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Our Artisans and Their Products

Leather Roses Video Updated

Thanks to the feedback we have received, I have updated the leather roses video interview in which Gianni introduces his new product line of rose-shaped leather accessories for 2011. Gianni utilizes a technique that had been developed in Venice to mold leather to make theater masks in the 1700s.

Leather rose earrings

I think that this is a very creative way to make something that is really pretty. When I watch people try on the leather roses I think: “that really looks good!” and I am actually pretty surprised. I used to think that handmade bijoux was just another word for cheap-looking wannabe jewelry. “Excuse me, please!” In recent years, I have been noticing how much character can go into bijoux and I now admire people that can find and wear something that really adds to their appearance. I hope that Gianni’s leather roses will find the people that will make them shine. I am very curious to hear some feedback. Use the comment box below!

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