Facciamoci un aperitivo

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Buongiorno…. 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!


Antiques Diva Italy

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!

 Mercanteinfiera in Parma

Mercanteinfiera in Parma

Mercanteinfiera in Parma

Mercanteinfiera in Parma

In the spirit of opening our three day VIP tour in Italy, The Antiques Diva & Co embraced the Italian phrase, “to-italian-aperitivo-and-drinks-in-italy/” target=”_blank”>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 tobifairley.com/” target=”_blank”>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!

Antiques Diva Italy

Evviva! (Cheers!)

The Antiques Diva®

PS:  To book an Antiques Diva Tour or inquire about our Buying Services so you can source antiques abroad virtually, email to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com

Diva of the Day – Susan

Dear Diva Readers,

Over the summer on our company blog I’m featuring each of The Antiques Diva Guides.  Today we’re presenting Susan our Personal Shopping and Sourcing Consultant in Italy.  Meet Susan!

Italian Antique Tours

Which Tours do you lead?
Italy… in the main the middle of which includes Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche, but we do occasionally venture north or south of the border.

What do you like about your job?
Being able to indulge and share my passion not only for antiques, vintage… and salvage but to share Italy too.  It’s often the clients that push boundaries, challenge me and introduce me to new things… quite apart from the fact that they constantly remind me why I’m still living here in Tuscany after more than 20 years (when I first moved here it was supposed to be only for 4 months)!

Italian Antiques Tour

What do you consider your specialty in helping clients? What do you enjoy about helping clients.
An intimate knowledge not only about where to shop (and how to get there, no mean feat on the roads here), but a deep rooted understanding of the culture, traditions… and ways of doing things.    I love the enthusiasm and joy found in everyday things by clients, many of which has been lost in their everyday lives, but we here often take for granted, it puts everything back into prospective.

Where did you grow up?
British by birth, Welsh by choice, Mid-Atlantic by nature, Italian by adoption.

What do you do when you’re not working? Hobbies? Interests?
Oh dear so much seems to revolve around food, but after all I am in Italy so… cooking and wine… which means eating, drinking but best of all entertaining

I love creative projects, mainly related to decorating, but I’m fascinated too by the nitty gritty of the actual building work, restoring and restoration.

Books, books, books, far too many!  I love day trips to special places and  in the summer  escaping to the archipelago islands just off the Tuscan coast on our tiny boat.   It’s only a hour away but it’s a total break, fishing, reading, swimming… and relaxing.

Favorite spot to vacation?
I visit the States at least once a year, usually to get together with friends and family, but also for inspiration and a good dose of ‘we can do’.    I love America – and Americans!  But I also like going to far flung places too,  China, South Africa and Egypt  have been some of the most memorable trips.  I recently took a long awaited trip to Morocco and was well rewarded (not to mention did lots of shopping too!)

Do you have a favorite museum or work of art that inspires you?
I can’t pin point any one as there really are so many, I am a museum and exhibition addict.  As a child I was exposed to the English country homes and gardens which I still adore of course, but I am also excited by contemporary painting and modern furniture too.

In the area where you lead your tours is there a special place you like to go? Perhaps it’s an area of town or a favorite cafe to drink your coffee?
In Italy food and wine plays a lead role in any relationship, whether you be with friends, business colleagues or clients, so time must be taken to explore and enjoy this adventure too.  An important part in any tour is the right place to refuel, and it’s as much about the characters in the cast as the food on the menu.

What do you think is the hardest thing for clients on tour? What do you recommend to help the client with this problem?
Preconceived ideas of what they are looking for coupled with a fear that they won’t find anything,  then a feeling of being totally overwhelmed and not being able to make a decision… or the other extreme getting totally carried away.   Our role is not just to be a guide, a confidant or a translator but also to be a friend, to be rational, thoughtful… and a psychiatrist at times too.

Guest Blog – Paper Marbling in Florence

Dear Diva Readers,

Today’s blog comes to you from Tuscany and your Antiques Diva Guide Susan P as she shares details on her recent Paper Marbling Workshop in Florence! This workshop is just one of the insider’s tips on Italy that we offer access to on our Antiques Diva Italian Tours!

So ta ta from me and Buongiorno from La Dolce Diva Guide – Susan P

The Antiques Diva®


Diva Guide Susan P

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Just a stone’s throw from the famous Boboli gardens and the Pitti Palace, not far from the hustle and bustle of Santo Spirito, tucked almost anonymously in one of those many narrow Florentine streets is the workshop of Omero Benvenuti, bookbinder since 1967.  From outside a dusty window front reveals little of what jewels are held within.  A small but impressive display of beautifully hand-worked, leather-bound books and a mirage of coloured Florentine marbled paper pieces from letter racks to pencil holders, little boxes for stamps to carefully displayed papers, all of which he has created himself.

We had come to try our hand at making Florentine marbled paper under the watchful but auspicious eye of Omero (his name a wonder in itself meaning Homer).  A passionate and gentle soul, a true Florentine artisan, more concerned with his craft than commerce, choosing only the best quality natural leather, colours and glues and following traditions passed down through generations.  He proudly displays his inherited antique embossing tools and demonstrates their use using fine gold leaf.   Whilst we are there one of his ‘regular’ clients came to collect a 19th copy of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ that he had rebound and covered

He guided us to the back of the single room store.  There he mixed for us five acrylic-based colours with water in little pots carefully lining them. Alongside was a large tray into which he poured a liquid which he had prepared the day before that must be left for at least 12 hours to rest.  Of course each artisan has his own secrets… but Omero did share his incredible recipe; the ingredients were mind boggling; algae, water, Arabic gum, the yolk of an egg, a sachet of icing sugar all boiled up together.  We noticed some rather dangerous looking medieval tools, which turned out to be his homemade combs.

We were given free reign to choose and apply the paints as we wished which was great fun! Colours are applied to the surface of the oily water in splatters using a paint brush,   Best results are obtained using no more than six colours – one colour after another starting with the darker shades and then the lighter ones to create a dense pattern of several colors, which  slowly expand.  At this point you can lay the paper directly on the surface of the liquid, which we did try and came out with more contemporary designs,  but more often motifs are created stirring the colour spots with a thin stick and the metal combs: first a comb with straight and narrow teeth and then a comb with triangular teeth. Each artisan uses his own-developed combs, enabling him to obtain unique motifs. Even the same comb produces very different decorations used in different ways.

Now a paper sheet is carefully laid down on the water, paying attention to avoid that no air bubbles remain between the paper and the water surface, as this would result in black patches … Omero didn’t quite trust us to do this so we left it in his capable hands.  He dragged the sheet of paper over a rod to draw off the excess liquid… we waited with baited breath, feeling sure it was all going to smudge… . But what a wonderful surprise the final results, the colors being so much more vibrant than they appeared in the tray… it was hard to believe that it really was we who had created them!  


Susan P – Your Dolce Diva – tours/italy/” target=”_blank”>Leading Antique Shopping Tours in Tuscany

The Arezzo Flea Market

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>The ancient Tuscan city of Arezzo with its Roman ruins, medieval walls and renaissance architecture was home to many famed architects and artists alike – Piero della Francesca, whose murals adorn many of Italy’s great churches and Giorgio Vasari, creator of the Medici corridor that runs across the Arno – to name just two of Arezzo’s famous artisans.    Arezzo has always been a magnet for art lovers.  Susan P, my Antiques Diva & Co colleague in Italy offering Antique Shopping Tuscan Tours explains, “It’s no less so today – when the first weekend of the month the town centre is transformed into one huge flea market with over 500 vendors.

Antiques Diva Tuscan Tour Guide Susan P shopping in Arezzo

Susan advises Italian Flea Market pilgrims to browse the stalls climbing up to Piazza Grande and San Francesco at your leisure, taking time to chat with the vendors, lingering over their Italian accents.  “You’ll enjoy the cast of characters hawking their wares,” she explains with a twinkle in her eye.  The vendors love to share stories of their treasures – some of which are even true!” she adds, noting “Some stories the vendors tell have to be taken with a pinch of salt.”  But what salt it is… regardless of pedigree, the treasures in Arezzo abound – whether vintage pieces from mysterious scientific instruments to antique toys and furniture, fascinating paintings and religious relics to second-hand crockery, glass, kitchen and cooking items.  The market is filled with all varieties of silver as well as a slew of vintage and antique ceramics and yellow-paged books perfect for decorating your shelves. In short, Italian Diva Guide Susan P promises, It’s impossible to go home empty handed!”

On my last trip to Arezzo, this Little Piggy came home with me!

“Oh the things you will see,” sighs Susan P, Tuscan Antique Shopping Tour Guide

“And that’s just the Flea Market in Arezzo,” she exclaims, “There is much more to discover once you venture off the main arteries from a gallery of small antique shops, to lampshade makers and great hardware stores.”



Email to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com for more information

Arezzo 2015 Dates:

January 3-4, 2015

January 31 – February 1, 2015

February 28 – March 1, 2015

April 4-5, 2015

May 2-3, 2015

June 6-7, 2015

July 4-5, 2015

August 1-2, 2015

September 5-6, 2015

October 3-4, 2015

October 31 – November 1, 2015

December 5-6, 2015

Ciao Bella,
The Antiques Diva®
(seen below, shopping in Tuscany)