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Mid Century in Florence

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>In most people’s minds, the phrase “Antiquing in Tuscany,” conjures up images of rustic Italian furniture, perfectly patinated terra cotta pots, hand forged wrought iron, and some of the best architectural salvage on the planet. However savvy Mid Century Modern lovers know that mid 20th century pieces also abound in Italy if you know where to look. Just as Italy revived its position as a fashion mecca in the 20th century (think Florence and Milan), so too it produced some of the greatest mid century furniture that is still highly sought after today. Though of course there are the well known names; (Paolo Buffa, Ico Parisi, Osvaldo Borsani etc…), that are sought after , it’s not neccessarily the names that count. There are so many unknown or lesser known furniture designers that possess the same quality, design, style & panache that Italy is known for– but it’s all in the detail!

Mid Century in Florence Chair

If you’re looking for mid century pieces, Florence is the place to go. When we have clients who are mad about mid century, we recommend that they stay in Florence and spend at least one day exploring the shops in the city and another day or two with our Diva Guide in the countryside. There are some extraordinary stores in the city that offer the best of the best vintage inventory. Dashing from shop to shop through tight streets and alleyways is always a thrill, and learning about specific pieces from the very knowledgable dealers is a treat any enthusiast would love.

Mid Century in Florence mid century furniture

As with anything however, prices in the city are higher than in more rural areas. In fact, many high-quality dealers in Florence source their inventory in the countryside… and we know where their sources are! That’s why we always recommend taking at least one day with our Diva Guide to go to these sources, as she knows exactly where to go to find the best pieces at the best prices!

Mid Century in Florence lighting

After driving a short distance outside of Florence, there are several exits off the main highway that lead to different mid century shops and warehouses. Many of these places are by appointment only and have new inventory constantly coming in. These are the dealers who specialize in house-clearings and have first access to estate sales so their stock is often fresh and unique!

Mid Century in Florence dealers warehouses and haus clearings

If Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn shared a house, this is where they would shop! Everything from vintage chairs upholstered in velvet with sexy silhouettes to ultra modern plastic furniture can be found in these off the beaten path warehouses. If you have a thing for buttery leather upholstery and brass feet, then this is where you want to be! Rows upon rows of sleek dining chairs from the 1950s-1970s fill attics and basements while chrome and brass light fixtures illuminate the space.

Mid Century in Florence 1950 and 1970 chairs

Mid century mirrors are quite popular right now and there is no shortage of them in Italy. Minimalist shapes with an organic feel, mid century mirrors blend well into most interiors. Brass frames in the style of Gio Ponti abound and polished wood or lacquered frames are all popular choices.

Mid Century in Florence different style chairs

It’s also good to note that if you’re looking for something specific, these dealers can most likely find it. Our Buying Service allows you to give us a list of what you’re after and we’ll canvas all our sources until we find the pieces you want, then send you photos, information, and prices. This is an excellent way of getting first dibs on unique pieces that otherwise would probably have ended up in the shops in Florence for a much higher price!

Mid Century in Florence unique chairs

If you would like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour or on our Buying Services, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com.

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>O ne thing I love about antiques is the fact that they connect us to the past. And while some pieces of furniture are no longer necessary due to today’s technology, they are still beautiful and can be adapted for new uses in modern life.Take for example the Amadia, an Italian piece of furniture that once graced the kitchens of every Tuscan home, great and small. Originally it was pressed into service while preparing dough for bread-making—a daily activity in each household 100 years ago. Today you can still see amadias in Tuscan country kitchens, but more often than not, they are used for storage rather than a place to store and knead dough.

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Bread is a staple food in all cultures, and has been for centuries. Each corner of the world seems to have its own take on this ever present food, offering diverse shapes and flavors. The preparation of dough was once a common task that relied heavily on traditional methods, always involving water, flour, yeast, and of course strong hands to knead the mixture. Today as you travel in India and Asia you often still see this bread making ritual a part of daily life in their households. If you’ve ever tasted Tuscan bread you’ll know it’s unique in the fact that it is prepared without salt. Legend has it that around the year 1100, the salt trade was interrupted due to a war between Pisa and Florence, resulting in a very high cost for salt. In turn, Florentines adapted by making bread without salt, gradually adjusting to this new taste, referred to as “sciocco,” (without salt), and thus what should have only been a temporary fix has evolved into tradition. (Plus it happens to taste fabulous when dipped in Olive Oil with fat salt and fresh pepper!)

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Prepared once or twice a week, Tuscan bread would be made with locally produced flour, and once baked, would keep for about a week. Every kitchen would have had an amadia, a sort of dough trough, where the dough was kneaded. The amadia was equipped with a board to grind the flour, a rolling pin to roll out the dough, and a storage area. Once the dough had risen, breads were placed on a prepared canvas, the fabric making a fold between each loaf. In the mean time a fire would be made in the oven, and once its flames had died down, the embers would be set aside while most of the ash was removed.  Then came the time to bake the bread! Of course, if there was stale bread still left in the amadia after a week, it would not go to waste. Instead it would be used to prepare a list of exquisite dishes which utilized stale bread such as ribollita, panzanella, aqua cotta, pappa al pomodoro, fettunta, and black cabbage soup.

Antique Tuscan Amadias

Today you can find several different styles of amadias dating from the 19th century up to the 1950’s, each with their own unique patina and style. Clients that take our Antiques Diva Tuscany Tour often remark on these pieces, as they can be found in second hand stores, antique shops, and warehouses. And while their function is no longer necessary, they can still add to the look of a kitchen and act as extra storage or prep space, proving that objects from the past can still be made relevant, even in new ways!

If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Tour in any of our 8 tour countries—Italy, France, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, or The Netherlands— email us at info@antiquesdiva.com.

Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®

Design & Wine at Palazzo Rocca

Dear Diva Readers,

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s we’re looking ahead to a new fabulous 6 day tour called “Design & Wine”  , which will start April 30 2016 in Italy, I can hardly contain my excitement for each part of this experience which will be a combination of dazzling design destinations and delectable wine, food, and antiques. Adam Japko, founder of The Design Bloggers Conference , Jeremy Parzen, founder of Do Bianchi  , and me have worked very hard to put together an itinerary that will thrill the senses and inspire the creative mind.

PalazzoContariniCorfù0I’m particularly pleased to announce that we will be kicking off this tour with welcome cocktails and dinner in a 16th century palazzo called Palazzo Rocca in Venice! This Venetian Gothic fortress palace happens to still be privately owned and is also the place where Prince Charles and Princess Diana stayed in 1985 when they visited Venice.

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Set on a stretch of the Grand Canal between the museum of Ca ‘Rezzonico and the Academia Bridge, the palazzo is a unique magical place—truly a landmark on the Grand Canal— and seems to float on the water. Accessing the palazzo by water, one can simply pull up to the private dock and step into a grand reception hall. If you arrive on foot, you are welcomed into a private courtyard which leads to the same reception room that spans the entire building. Either way, upon arrival at this palazzo, one can’t help but be awed by its beauty.

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We’re so thrilled to welcome guests of our tour to this historically significant place which has played host to important figures including royalty, nobility, poets, composers, and great thinkers throughout the centuries. Inspiration is sure to flow as we discuss the interesting historical treasures relating to the art and architectural attributes of the palazzo, all while enjoying a glamorous cocktail party in what is considered the most exclusive and aristocratic Gothic palace on the Grand Canal.

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For more information on the upcoming Design & Wine tour or to reserve your spot today, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. Space is limited so advance reservations are required. We’d love to have you join us on this fabulous 6 day tour of beautiful Italy!

Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®

Venetian Glass Chandeliers

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Venetian glass has long been a highly sought after commodity, adding artistic touches to interiors not only to Italian residences but also all over the world. Perhaps one of the best known and most appreciated products made of Venetian glass is the chandelier. These intricately detailed pieces seem to float when hanging and they create an atmosphere of fantasy, whimsy and grandeur all at once.

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Many clients that take an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in Italy will stop and stare when they first see these marvelous creations. They’re mesmerizing! The skill of Venetian craftsmen leaves you speechless when you think about each tiny piece being made by hand!

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Sometime around the year 1700, Venetian glassmakers began making chandeliers from Murano glass. Murano glass comes from the island of Murano in Venice and had been used to make lovely items for centuries before this. Being known as the most beautiful and pure glass in the world, Murano glass would be molded and sculpted into flirtatious forms often incorporating flowers, vines and leaves. Glassmakers also used various shades of colored glass to enhance these chandeliers and make them look even more like bouquets of flowers.

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Whether transparent or colored, many Venetian glass chandeliers have arms covered with blown glass. This requires tedious attention and many hours to craft each small piece by hand to seamlessly fit together. While these chandeliers are still crafted in Venice, purchasing an antique is most certainly a good investment that not only retains but gains in value. Often these antique chandeliers come with provenance, having previously hung in palazzos, theaters and other important historical buildings. On our Venetian tours we’re able to visit palazzo’s where you can buy chandeliers straight from the palazzo’s frescoed ceiling…. In essence it’s magic. Diva Style.

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If you would like more information on our Antiques Diva Buying Tours or Buying Services, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help you source the perfect antique Venetian glass chandelier!

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The Antiques Diva in Venice with Venetian Diva Guide Orseola

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva®

Not Your Grandmother’s Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While on tour recently in Milan, clients spotted this lovely vignette at one of our favorite sources. One thing is for sure: There’s nothing stuffy or old-fashioned about these antique and vintage pieces! I love when we find examples of antiques that read young, hip, and oh so fabulous!

Roberta

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Fish & Fleas

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Don’t you just love shopping for Fish & Fleas!

The Antiques Diva®

Mercanteinfiera and The Antiques Diva in Parma

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 30px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>I 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 – Mercanteinfierato paint the town red!

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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.

Antiques Diva and Lynn Yaeger

Antiques Diva Justin Shaulis

Mercanteinfiera Parma Antiques Diva

Mercanteinfiera Parma

Mercanteinfiera Parma

Mercanteinfiera Parma

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 to:toma@antiquesdiva.com”>toma@antiquesdiva.com

Ciao Bella!
The Antiques Diva ®
(Seen here with a few VIP friends @ Mercanteinfiera)

Mercanteinfiera Parma

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®

In the Press: Antiques Diva Italian Tours

Dear Diva Readers,

Perhaps I should have started today’s blog with a hearty “Buongiorno Baby”, for  The Antiques Diva® & Co’s new Italian Tours are in the news! 

Belle Inspiration – one of my favorite online magazines (and coming to print soon) – has just done a giant feature on my company, interviewing Diva Guide Susan P who leads our antique shopping tours in Italy – a whopping 12 page feature discussing Italian antiques.  They discuss where to buy antiques in Tuscany, what Italian antiques to buy, favorite Italian flea markets, how to negotiate for discounts in Italy as well as the tours we offer.  Susan, our Italian Diva, even gives hints & tips on other Italian Lifestyle & Tuscan Travel Tips!

For those of you who are willing to twist your tongue into Italian there’s even a section on Italian Antique Shopping Vocabulary – words you should know before you go!

While articles in Belle Inspiration magazine are usually only available to subscribers, Mimi Bleu – the sensational tour de force and editor-in-chief at Belle – has kindly set the article – An Essential Antique Shopper’s Guide to Italy – in a special publication specifically so Diva Readers can read the news!!!  And while this excerpt of the publication should be saved in your favorites, I have a suspicion you won’t want to miss another word Belle Inspiration has to share! Their Italian issue is down-right divine with 150 pages of Italian Inspiration!

If you’re as much of an Antiques Lover as I am, then this is one article on Antique Shopping in Italy you won’t want to miss!!!

Ciao Bella,
The Antiques Diva®

Book a Tour

The Antiques Diva & Co offers custom planned Antiques Buying Tours for tourists and trade professionals. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or wanting to fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places.

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