Antiquing in Parma at Italy’s Premier Antiques Fair
Fancy meeting up with a group of fabulous designers, delightful dealers, (antique dealers, of course), magazine creatives, gracious guides, and one Diva extraordinaire to #shopeatplay in Italy for five days. Well, that’s exactly what Laurent and I did last month during Mercanteinfiera, Italy’s largest antiques fair held in the historic and gastronomic city of Parma, Italy, famous for its Renaissance and Romanesque architecture and prosciutto, parmigiano cheese and Lambruscu.
Twice a year, Toma Clark Haines, the Antiques Diva, and her Diva Guides take a VIP group of mostly interior designers and antique dealers on a trip that can only be described as an “antiques lovefest” because not only did we fall in love with the beautiful Italian antiques we saw, but we also fell in love with the people and places of Italy as well as everyone in our group. (While The Antiques Diva & Co NORMALLY only does one on one customized antique buying tours, a few times a year they work with 3rd parties to put together special VIP Group Tours; Mercanteinfiera is one such occassion. We were lucky enough to be part of that group!) What we thought would be a “look see” turned into an outright buying trip filled with more food, fun and friends than we could have ever imagined!
buy directly off the trucks as dealers
were unloading and setting up
The nine-day shopping extravaganza, which attracted more than 50,000 purveyors of antiques and designer finds from around the world, opened to the public on February 25th, but as VIP guests of the AD&CO we were fortunate enough to have early access during the pre-trade and trade days. This allowed us the ability to buy directly off the trucks as dealers were unloading and setting up. It was a bit crazy with everyone heading in different directions, dodging doggies and dollies (the furniture moving kind), but it provided us first dibs on the crème de la crème of Italian antiques and wares of over 1000 dealers.
Dealers are set up in five different pavilions selling a mixture of styles and periods of antiques and vintage furniture, jewelry and fashions, lighting (lots of lighting), art and accessories. Because Toma was in full-on Diva mode and making history in London at the House of Lords with the first ever Facebook Live post at the Houses of Parliament while speaking at the 9th Annual LAPADA Conference, she wasn’t able to join us the first day. We were in very capable hands, though. Her amazing Diva Guides, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo and Chiara Zanella, took charge and managed to navigate our large group through the multitudes of shoppers. They made sure that we each found what we were looking for, whether it was an 18th century Baroque Italian painted cassapanca or the nearest ATM. They also made sure we could communicate properly. Everyone in our group was from the South, and we could all be heard asking “quanto costa?” in our best southern accents!
A Few Vendor Booths at Mercanteinfiera
Our Goal: A Large Monastery Table
Since Laurent and I had one goal in mind, to find a large monastery table, we were thrilled to find not one but two 18th century tables almost immediately – and decided we best take them before someone else did. One table was fourteen feet and the other was twelve feet – hard-to-find sizes, at reasonable prices and both in excellent condition. We had already arranged to have our “collector” there just in case, so we immediately called him and let him know we had made our first purchase of the day. He would be collecting any items we purchased and taking them to our warehouse in Nantes, France. When Laurent goes to France in April to make a container, he’ll add the pieces from Italy with what he buys in France to be shipped back to our shop in Birmingham, Alabama.
A few things you need to know about Laurent. He’s been importing antiques for 25 years and has his own sources and does his own containers, usually four to five a year. So he was really reluctant about buying anything during this trip. He thought everything would be way over priced, and many things were because it’s a very high-end trade show, but once we started shopping, we realized what a wonderful opportunity we had been given.
even established antique dealers, set in their ways,
can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours
In the two days that we attended Mercanteinfiera, we were able to purchase some incredible Italian antiques and were also able to find sources and make contacts that we will use in the future. Without the AD&CO, none of this would have been possible! We can’t thank them enough! It just goes to show even established antique dealers, set in their ways, can really benefit from one of AD&CO’s many tours. We plan on taking another tour in either Belgium or Sweden as soon as we can. Time is precious. And the time saved having Diva Guides with us to make introductions, translate and negotiate when necessary, and take care of the small details (like reading a menu) made all the difference in the world. Our imaginations could not have dreamed up anything more perfect. The energy, creativity, ingenuity, experience and the professional and personal attentiveness shown to us by Toma and her Diva Guides made this buying trip a truly magical journey.
y Obsession du Jour? Northern Italian Cassapancas. They’re my own personal Casanova making me weak in my knees and my heart all a twitter each time I see them on one of our Italian Antiques Diva Tours. Almost always sold as a pair these carved benches from the Italian Renaissance typically flank the main public rooms in palazzo’s and are the precursor to the modern-day divan. Often with heraldic emblems reflecting the families origin finding these pieces are rarely up for sale because Palazzo owners typically wouldn’t sell these pieces. When it comes to Italian Palazzo Décor they’re considered the “immobile” – the unmovable – and typically would be left in a palace from generation to generation. They definitely make my #MustHaveAntiques List!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
As the master mind behind her aptly named company, Tobi Fairley & Associates, Tobi is far more than a peddler of pillows. Top shelter magazine Traditional Home predicts, “Tobi will be like Cher or Oprah, one of those women for whom one name says it all.” On top of being a successful designer, Tobi offers a comprehensive consulting service providing custom-tailored education, mentoring, and common sense tools to help companies and design firms improve their business.
I had the pleasure of taking Tobi on an antiques buying tour in Italy last month and was impressed by her desire to help other designers succeed and reach their maximum potential. With her award-winning interior design projects being featured on television, blogs, and in several high profile shelter magazines, Tobi now shares her savvy for the business side of her life with clients who want to increase profits and achieve better results in their companies.
I was so thrilled to see Tobi’s designs featured on the April cover of Traditional Home Magazine, along with an extensive spread inside. Her work is also featured in the April issue of Better Homes & Gardens. One thing is for sure, this woman is going places! Be sure to follow Tobi’s blog for design, business, and life inspiration. And stay tuned because The Antiques Diva & Co did a fabulous photo shoot with Tobi while we were in Italy together…you never know what major publication these photos might show up in!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
uongiorno…. No, make that Buona Sera! When the day is done – to close out the work day and start the evening – the Italians like to indulge in an aperitivo before dinner. While technically the purpose of the aperitivo is to stimulate the appetite, (how else would a European’s stomach know it’s time to eat dinner?) it’s really just a wonderful excuse for friends to gather from between 6:00 to 9:00pm to socialize whilst partaking in a few savory snacks before commencing with a 3 course dinner. I still wonder how they stay so thin!
Aperitivo’s are simple – you’ll find a variety of olives, cheeses, and breads being served alongside a dry cocktail or prosecco, which is a favorite pre-dinner sparkler in Italy. In some cases, meats and cheeses paired with puff pastries and other finger foods are set out as tempting treats that could very well spoil dinner if you’re not too careful!
In the spirit of opening our three day VIP tour in Italy, The Antiques Diva & Co embraced the Italian phrase, “Facciamoci un aperitivo” (Let’s have an aperitif!). Each night on our recent VIP TOUR in Parma, Italy we hosted a Prosecco Aperitivo at the Grande Hotel de la Ville for our guests before dinner! Plenty of Prosecco and savory snacks were served while lively conversation ensued as we we discussed the days purchases and plunderings. Some of our VIP designers on this special VIP tour included Tobi Fairley, Mark Cutler, Jon Call, and Denise McGaha.What a fun group we had!
When we bring clients on an Antiques Diva Tour, it’s not just about the shopping, it’s about the entire European experience!
The Antiques Diva®
PS: To book an Antiques Diva Tour or inquire about our Buying Services so you can source antiques abroad virtually, email email@example.com
Dear Diva Readers,
Mercanteinfiera in Parma last week, I was thrilled with the wide variety of items available. I decided to put together a list of my top 5 finds at the fair and tell you a little about why I love these pieces!hile shopping Italy’s largest antiques fair,
1. Pairs of chairs:
From clean lined wood to upholstered rococo, pairs of chairs were everywhere. I always advise that you buy things in pairs if you can because you never know when two of a thing might come in handy!
2. Mid-century lighting:
Unique sconces, chandeliers, and flush mount fixtures were all the rage. Pick up any design or shelter magazine and you will see funky fixtures in all types of homes, be they modest or grand, traditional or modern. Brass and glass are still huge right now, and that was evident in the wide selection of gorgeous mid century light fixtures.
3. Vintage coats:
The variety of styles were amazing. Classic black to statement colors like red and yellow , vintage coats were available in all sizes and all colors. I should have bought that zebra patterned floor length coat!!!
The statuary was absolutely phenomenal. Whether you were looking for large pieces or small, you could definitely find options at Mercante in Fiara. I loved a pair of Sphinxes that would be perfect in a grand entry or even in a garden!
5. Gilded mirrors:
What I love about gilded mirrors is that they are at home in a grand interior but can also live happily in a more sparse environment. Cluster a group of mirrors on a white wall for a trendy look or simply hang one statement mirror for a timeless feel.
I love shopping large antique fairs like Mercanteinfiera because I know that all of these disparate items will be gathered in one place and make my shopping experience that much more enjoyable!
The Antiques Diva
Dear Diva Readers,
Mercanteinfiera – to paint the town red!had to write to tell you about my recent trip to Parma, Italy with a sensational group of clients on a VIP Tour. As you know we normally do private one-on-one tours; however, every once in a while, we get together with a group of VIPs for a meeting of the minds. Where better to get together than Italy’s largest Antiques Fair –
The fair covers five pavilions and is the largest of its kind in Italy with over a 1000 dealers from all over Europe, including Britain, France and Belgium. Together under one roof they offer a vast array of furniture and decorative pieces from ancient Roman & ecclesiastical artifacts to fabulous antiques prints and decorative arts, 18th century furniture to Italian modernism and collectables. The pavilions or ‘Padiglione’ as they are known in Italian are divided into styles; of main interest are #6 which houses jewellery, both precious and costume, 20th century Furniture and Decorative Arts, Vintage and Repurposed.
As Susan, our locally-based Italian Guide explains,
“In Italy there is a little bit of everything but perhaps of most interest are lighting, mirrors and huge amount of paintings and prints (some with great mattes and frames) varying in style from the classic landscapes and still life to contemporary; some are purely decorative others are great masters. There are of course Roman artifacts but if they are genuine one can’t pretend that they go for a song, however some of the religious pieces are a bargain. Italian country is a very different style to French country, cleaner and simpler lines perfect for both a modern and traditional home. There are also lots of fun agricultural pieces which are great finds, for both decoration and repurposing. On the central-eastern side of the country there are many painted pieces; both Florence and Venice were famed for its artisan painters, many of whom moved east towards Le Marche. One can’t dispute that Italian 20th century design was highly innovative and creative, these pieces are still not totally appreciated by Italians and so are good finds too.
In short Italy probably has much more than you ever imagined, it just takes a little time to get to know the country, the people and the business… we know too that half the fun is finding merchandise but when time is short – and time is money – a little help goes a long way! And that my dears, are why we at The Antiques Diva & Co are here to help you.”
Mercanteinfiera Spring 2014 dates:
1-9 March, 2014
To book an Antiques Diva Italy Tour – any time of the year – email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Antiques Diva ®
(Seen here with a few VIP friends @ Mercanteinfiera)
Dear Diva Readers,
I had to write and tell you about the 2013 AVENUE Antiques, Art & Design at The Armory which starts today in the Big Apple. It runs October 9 – 13, 2013.
For the last week I have been in Parma, Italy at Mercanteinfiera leading a group of VIPs on an Antiques Diva Tour. Among those VIPs is Marion Harris who will be exhibiting at the Avenue Show. In the photo below Marion is located just behind me with the black hair.
Hanging out with The Antiques Diva & Co Crew after a hard day shopping Mercanteinfiera. Dealer Marion Harris, who will be exhibiting at the Avenue, was shopping in Parma to prepare for the fair!
Marion bought the most amazing things and she’s bringing them back to New York to share at the fair!!!
Each year, the Avenue show boasts a diverse selection of fine and decorative arts spanning various eras and genres, including English, Continental and American furnishings from the 17th century through Art Deco and Mid Century Modern, not to mention Fine Art, Contemporary Photography and Estate Jewelry. Offerings can be previewed on the Show’s Pinterest boards.
According to Show Director Barbara Goodwin this much-loved “shopping show” is supported by designers and collectors who appreciate the diverse inventory and price points. Renowned interior designers serve on the event’s Design Committee with Co-Chairs Ellie Cullman and Mario Buatta. The show also offers a full program of original lectures and events that enhance the shopping and collecting experience. Make sure to check out the Show and Special Events Schedule www.avenueshows.com/rsvp
Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue @ 67th Street, NYC
PRIVATE OPENING NIGHT PREVIEW BY INVITATION ONLY
Wednesday, October 9, 6:30 pm – 9:00pm
PUBLIC SHOW HOURS
Thursday, October 10 through Saturday, October 12
11:00 am – 7:30 pm
Sunday, October 13
11:00 am – 5:30 pm
Happy Shopping! And if you see Marion Harris do stop by and say Buongiorno and tell her The Antiques Diva® sent you!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
How could I forget…. While I was away in Italy at Mercanteinfiera – a gorgeous antiques fair in Parma, Italy – I never rang the opening bell for The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham in the Parisian suburbs! The “Ham Fair” runs until October 7th 2012 – but don’t worry, if you’ve missed this year’s fair it’s back again in the Spring! Email me email@example.com for the full on details of our upcoming special Spring tours!
I’ve got to tell you the best news I’ve heard all year…this fabulous fair just got better. One of my favorite Swedish and French vendors – Britt Poulsen of Casa Nova Antiques – is now selling at the Ham Fair. Discover her booth at 6 Rue Saint Sabin and you are destined to go home with the creme de la creme of the inventory at Chatou!
I first got to know Britt at the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair in England via an introduction from my locally based Diva Guide in England, Gail. Immediately upon meeting Britt I explained that we were taking clients on a Scandinavian antiques buying tour in May and the next thing I knew my clients and I had an invitation to her gorgeous home in Copenhagen for lunch! Upon entering her apartment where she sells from her home I swooned in delight – not only were she and her husband among the most gracious antique dealers I had ever met, their inventory was first class! The experience was such that I pitched a home feature chez elle to one of the glossies and will be writing about her for a print publication later this winter. In the meantime I couldn’t wait to spread the word and if you are going to Chatou you must drop in for a quick Bonjour! Britt also is one of the illustrious dealers at The Blanchard Collective in England and so I’ll be enjoying some of her inventory when visiting Blanchard’s booth later this week at The Decorative Fair in London also on concurrently in the UK until October 7.
Happy Shopping wherever your travels take you!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Get Thee to the Mercanteinfiera Antiques Fair in Parma, Italy where over 1000 vendors set up shop twice a year in the spring and fall.
For the last decade I’ve wanted to attend Italy’s most popular antiques fair but my plans have been foiled time after time by life, work and other unmovable circumstances and I am aghast to admit this was my first time to come to Parma’s famous fair. Literally anyone who is anyone shops here and I was afraid if I didn’t attend soon I’d have to turn in my title of Diva. This year I decided come hail or high water I was going to make attending Mercanteinfiera my top priority for the fall. When I was invited by the fair to participate as a VIP in their Top Experience it was the icing on the cake… serendipity stepped in, taking me by the hand and paving my way to pleasure, plundering Parma. As they say, good things come to those who wait, but “Mio Dio”, don’t wait too long! Consider this your invitation to join me and my locally-based Diva Guide Susan Pennington next year at my new favorite European antiques fair – Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy!!
Mark your calendars and book that airfare baby because the next time the peddlers come to Parma is the 2-10 March, 2013 and 5-13 October, 2013.
What I liked about the fair – aside from its unbelievably convivial atmosphere, abundance of antiques conveniently corralled in one locale, down-right delicious Italian food for every meal and wide variety of inventory at all price points – were the people I met at Parma. In addition to locals and tourists shopping this sensational antiques source I was surprised by the number of top American antique dealers shopping the fair during the trade days. I couldn’t turn around without bumping into someone I knew – or wanted to know – stocking their stores. A highlight of my recent trip to Parma was attending a special dinner at Cordial Verdi with the fair coordinators. I was beyond honored when asked to be on their advisory board to share my advice on how to make this fair more accessible for dealers and tourists wanting to shop the fair.
Having the chance to shop next to the top antique dealers in the USA, including legends such as Marion Harris, Carl Moore Antiques and Alhambra Antiques as well as a slew of designers, architects and “personalities” (such as Seymour Stein), gave me a rush that was better than caffeine or Prosecco…. neither of which were in shortage at the event.
In addition to having great inventory for sale, the fair really worked towards simplifying the process for exporting antiques from Italy, putting a system in place to help foreigners shopping the fair obtain the appropriate export paperwork. On site English-speaking shippers certainly helps in this regard.
Following you’ll find a few highlights of photos taken this weekend at the fair – for more photos make sure to follow me on Facebook @ The Antiques Diva & Co or visit the fair’s Facebook site in English The Merchants Fair Parma Italy or in Italian Mercante in Fiera. The fair continues to run until October 7th so if you’re in Italy at the present moment, drop what you’re doing and Get Thee to Mercanteinfiera!
I’ll look forward to seeing you in the Spring at the Mercanteinfiera! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on private tours of the fair with locally-based Diva Guide Susan .
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
ondon is calling!! Forget the Olympics there is a new game in town!
The Autumn Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair will be held from 2-7 October 2012 in the purpose-built marquee in Battersea Park, London SW, affectionately known as “Battersea” or “the Decorators’ Fair”. Perhaps the reason I love this fair so much is that it is aimed at a knowing audience decorating either their own home or that of a client and looking for a certain eclectic style from metropolitan chic to classic country house English and Continental furniture, period mirrors and lighting, works of art from all periods to the contemporary. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!! All this and more, including a tempting selection of one-off, individual accessories with an enviable choice for the collector, from tribal works to pictures, treen, ceramics and glass will be holding up the walls in marquee this autumn.
Why don’t you pop over to my locally based England Diva Agent’s website Antique News and Fairs and read what more she has to say about it!
You can also get more information by visiting the Decorative Fair website.
Now with all this information on the upcoming fair you might be downright disappointed that with late notice you can’t pop across the pond to attend the fair! Have no fear – the Decorative Fair will be back again – see details below.
Winter Fair: 22-27 January, 2013
Spring Fair: 23-28 April, 2013
Autumn Fair: 1-6 October, 2013
Planning your Antiques Diva England Tour to coincide with the plan would be brilliant! If you’re interested in either a Girls Getaway or a To The Trade Antique Shopping Tour in England, you could start your tour by attending the fair shopping like a world famous interior designer – using sources those same designers would rather you not know about. And then the next thing you know we would bebop you around Britain hitting more decorators sources in Britain. Whether you’re looking for cerebral or academic antiques, the old school decorative look beloved of England’s Country Houses or the quirky brave look of the modern dealer, booking an Antiques Diva Tour to coincide with the Decorative Fair would guarantee you saw the Best of Britain! Go Team GB!!
Stay tuned for my Facebook and Twitter pics coming Live From The Fair!! This year I will be touring with fair with a group of London Design Bloggers on a special behind the scenes tour. Shhhh… Don’t tell anyone but I’ve already had these bloggers custom-made Antiques Diva shopping totes prepared for their tour! Aren’t they gorgeous? These bags are for our VIP tours – when you book your tour make sure you ask about how you can qualify to be a VIP – no, make that VID – Very Important Diva!!
Last but not least before I close and go catch my plane to Parma to attend Mercanteinfiera , I want to tell you about one more special offer. While our tours run year-round and can always be catered to your travel dates, we are starting to offer special tours on set dates available exclusively to our trade clients. We’ve got some trade dates available this fall – email me me email@example.com to find out more and join us in England for special trade tours between October 15 and 22 and again in November 7 til the 14.
The Antiques Diva®