Meet La Dolce Diva – Susan, our Diva Guide in Italy!
Dear Diva Readers,
n today’s blog I want to introduce you to La Dolce Diva – Susan, our Diva Guide leading antique shopping tours in Tuscany! Susan is a dazzling Brit living in Tuscany and is a dream-come-true! She’s quite possibly the most affable person I’ve met, with an easy smile, a lifetime lived exploring antiques, a quirky nature and an eye for style! Susan describes herself as “British by birth, Welsh by choice, Mid-Atlantic by nature, and Italian by adoption”.
Meet Susan – La Dolce Diva! The Antiques Diva® Guide in Tuscany!
Susan tells about Growing up in Britain…
“For as long as I can remember, design and decoration have been a part of my life. As a small child I spent hours playing with the doll’s house that my father had made for us, staging the rooms, making and hanging curtains, stitching tiny cushions, adding bits and pieces… My dad was quite a craftsman; he made the tiny furniture and electrified the house with a huge battery. I loved Lego too; building houses, gardens, rooms. I was also an avid fan of ‘Pelham Puppets (very British!) and would pour over catalogues deciding what I would like, then save my pocket money. When I had enough I carefully filled out the form with my order and rushed down to the post office to buy the postal order and send it off. Those were agonizing days when I would wait eagerly for the postman to arrive. I recall one Christmas when we received a theatre – how excited we were, painting the cut out wooden scenes with my sister, then creating grand plays and shows for our family and friends. I continuously moved the furniture around in my bedroom. I recall when I was around 10 years of age my room was to be redecorated and I was allowed to choose the wall paper, though what I chose was not exactly what my mother had had in mind; a dark blue ground with green and white snowdrops… but I loved it. As I got older I would accompany my father to visit British country homes and gardens, he was a great historian and purveyor of fine things. Subconsciously the seeds had been sown and germination started.”
Susan tells about starting her career as a Buyer at Harrods in London
“I left Wales for the bright lights of London to pursue a career in retailing, where better place to start than the renown store of Harrods. For our final assignment we were asked which department interested us most – much to raised eyebrows I nominated the antiques department. There was a warm and friendly, small close-knit team, the buyer was delighted to have a little go-fer, and soon I was attending auctions, bidding and buying… upon his direction of course. I loved the auction room – the excitement and thrill of the sales. One summer I went to visit my sister in New York and couldn’t resist attending one there and not long after found myself as a permanent fixture in one of the British auction houses in the city, eventually becoming a specialist in 19th & 20th Furniture and Decorative Arts.”
Bright Lights… Big City! Susan tells about living in New York City & working in antiques
“After six wonderful and formative years in the boom of the mid 80’s, working with dealers and collectors it was time to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City. Through a strange series of circumstances, I found myself in Tuscany. It was merely by chance and most certainly a random choice that I made, with six months to spare between jobs and ironically not quite knowing what to do. Back home in my native Britain I had picked up a very English magazine… not to be named of course, but well-known for its knitting patterns and traditional recipes, but perhaps above all, for being the place to look for short term jobs abroad, little box ads for nannies and au pairs. It was exactly one of these ads that caught my eye; it read… ‘come to Tuscany and work two hours a day’…. Hmmm, what an invitation, who could refuse?”
Susan tells how she moved to Tuscany nearly 20 years ago and became La Dolce Diva!
“I found myself on a beautiful 3000-acre agricultural estate in the heart of Tuscany just outside of Siena and in love in more ways than one. I was fortunate enough to become part of an Italian family and over the last twenty years have had a hand in developing an ‘agriturismo’ business; a multifaceted task which amongst other things has involved the refurbishment and renovation of over a dozen buildings.”
Susan tells about Antique Shopping in Italy
“The most fun part of working on an estate in Italy was of course decorating the houses… the resources in Italy are fabulous, the natural elements such as terracotta, marble, stone, beautiful ceramic tiles, rich fabrics, tassels and ties and of course an excuse to indulge in my preferred past time. Shopping takes a little time and patience and a lot of talk and schmoozing… the Italians are famed for that and it’s an integral part of the culture that must be embraced. My tastes are eclectic, ranging from fine period antiques, silver and paintings to vintage clothing and re-purposed agricultural tools and equipment. I still love to frequent the auction houses too. Of course it’s even better and more fun in company and I’m more than happy to share my secrets!”
The Antiques Diva®