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.

The New Old Home

Antiques Diva Italy Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While shopping in a secret antique source outside of Florence this summer with clients on an tours/”>Antiques Tour I was utterly smitten with the staging of the showroom behind the salvage yard. I thought this bathroom was a wonderful example of how you could make an new house feel old simply by using architectural salvage pieces and antiques. In this instance the copper tub is antique – by positioning it in the center of the newly built showroom it makes you feel as if you are stepping into another time and place. The bold blue wall conjures images of exotic islands in the Mediterranean and the gorgeous gilt antique frames act as art – there’s no need for a painting in them! The piece de la resistance is the marble baptismal along the far wall. It could easily be converted into a sink or fountain. This room works not only because of all the symmetry but also because of the combination of antiques and repurposed items. Decorating in this way is really my passion and I love helping clients find those special pieces that they can use in their own homes!

Ciao ciao,
The Antiques Diva®

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Steal of the day

Antiques Diva Tuscan Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While shopping yesterday in the Oltrarno in Florence with an interior designer client on an Antiques Diva tours/italy/”>Italy Tour we found the “steal of the day” – an old safe. My client and I loved the industrial appeal of the piece however pondered how to use it when suddenly all 4 of us – my 2 clients as well as my locally based guide and I -exclaimed in unison “I’ve got it!” The client has a comprehensive list of things we are looking for and the safe suddenly was crying out to be a repurposed cocktail bar cabinet for the Tuscan villa we were furnishing!

I love nothing more than encouraging clients to think outside the box, er… safe in this instance, stretching the imagination to see how far they can take an object from its original use. A cocktail cabinet in general – even when not housed in such a fascinating piece – is in the words of tocked-bar-ide-119581″>Apartment Therapy “an entertaining investment, a place of intrigue or conversation and a place to get the party started.”

Today we are heading to the flea market in Arezzo to buy accessories and decorative pieces for the project and we will look for some great vintage glasses, a cocktail shaker and some decanters to add to the piece! When creating a cocktail bar you don’t have to have a plethora of choices – rather put the ingredients on hand for a few signature drinks. In the drawers of this piece we could pick up some linen cocktail napkins from the mill at Busatti and perhaps have them embroidered with the name of the client’s house or their initials.

Here’s a peek at some other interesting cocktail cabinets courtesy of tocked-bar-ide-119581″ target=”_blank”>Apartment Therapy!

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy

 Et voila, shake and serve!
The Antiques Diva®

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The Antiques Diva & Co Does Lucca, Italy

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Today we’re taking a mental voyage to Lucca, one of the jewels in the shining crown of Tuscany! It has retained its elegance, story and splendor.  Its history dates way back to even before the Romans.   Much of the city’s wealth however was built upon silk production and leather tanning.  Lucca was able to remain independent of Tuscany at a time when the region was being otherwise conquered and turned into a united Tuscan state. The relative immense wealth and the walls surrounding Lucca led to power brokers in Florence actually having to deal with the powerful merchants and leaders of Lucca – it was the only town in Tuscany not conquered by Florence and remains much unchanged since the medieval period.

Its maze of little streets and alleys brings many surprises from the wonderful artisan shops, galleries and stores to stunning architectural marvels such as the lively piazza San Michele, the old Roman forum.  It remains the heart of Lucca, where children play and the men of Lucca can be found discussing soccer and Italian politics.

The gorgeous church of San Michele, with its elegant Pisan – Romanesque façade, rich in marble inlays – exudes a mysterious Arabian Aura.  Some particularly stunning features are the ancient ramparts that ring the old city that are still intact. The inhabitants built these brick walls in the 16th century for defense. 

On The Antiques Diva® & Co Tuscan Tours you will have the opportunity to walk around the city on the wide, shaded walkways atop the walls… don’t worry it’s not as scary as it sounds!  If that doesn’t tire you out, climb up the Torre Guinigi – the 130 ft. tower even has an ancient oak tree on top!   Lucca was also home to one of Italy’s greatest composers;  Giacomo Puccini, creator of operas such as: “Madama Butterfly”, “La Bohème”, “The Girl of the golden west”, “Turandot”.  In the Piazza Cittadella you can see the statue dedicated to him.

Of course no tour would be complete without a stroll down Via del Battistero and this quarter of the city is known for its antique furniture shops – a message of elegance and style from the voice of our past. Plan your trip to Lucca at the right time of year – the third weekend of the month – and rain or shine you’ll find the monthly antiques flea market with over 250 stalls to peruse.   We will spend the afternoon meandering through the stalls to find treasures for you to bring back home! 

Join us for Special Tours during the Lucca flea market – the 3rd weekend of each month! 2012 dates include:

January 21 & 22

February 18 & 19

March 17 & 18

April 21 & 22

May 19 & 20

June 17 & 18

July 21 & 22

August 19 & 20

September 15 & 16

October 20 & 21

November 17 & 18

December 15 & 16

The Antiques Diva®