Antiques Diva Italian Travel Advice

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;”>If you’re heading to Italy for a Roman Holiday this summer, read on.  The key to antiquing in Italy during the summer months is preparation – many markets close while vendors take their own holiday!  A reader and former client recently emailed asking me (and my locally-based Tuscan Guide) about the markets in Italy this summer and I knew that we had to share our advice with you here on the blog.

Diva Reader Kim writes:

Could you give me ideas for markets in Italy that would be good to hit when I travel to Italy late July/early August…Venice, Rome, Florence, Portofino….

I esp. love shoes, purses, linens, etc. Thanks! Hope you are well. Love keeping up with your biz! What a life you lead! Cheers!

Thanks in advance,

Kim

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Antiques Diva Guide Susan responds:

I have to confess market shopping in Italy during the summer months can be a tricky time as many of the monthly flea markets close. Those that don’t close most certainly slow down in the heat of the summer months, so the pickings are slimmer, but on a more positive note those that are open you will find have incredible deals as the competition is less fierce!

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Another option are the ‘mercatini d’usato’ which are a great and growing resource;  not only are pieces on consignment from private clients but the stores also do estate clearances and really have fabulous things from Murano lighting fixtures to collections of paintings as well as furniture and decorative arts from all periods.

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If you’re going to Venice, Rome, and Florence, you will find these stores – we almost always include these in an itinerary on an Antiques Diva Tour. They’re sort of like the Italian equivalent of a British Charity Shop – but everything in them is Italian and vintage!  Of course it’s important to check who is open and when to co-ordinate with your travels. Generally the flea markets in Florence which happen on the 3rd and 4th weekend of the month close in August. In Rome, the biggest market is at Porta Portese which is every weekend, closes for the middle of August for two weekends. Ferragosto, which is August 15, is a the most important holiday on the calendar and in true Italian style, whole families shut up shop and go to the beach or up to the mountains for their annual family vacation – so there won’t be any shopping that day either!

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You mentioned that you love shoes, purses, and linens, and of course Italy being the queen of fashion is the king of vintage, having so many renowned designers.  For Italians the ‘bella figura’ weighs heavily,  that is, making a good impression, and it’s quality not quantity that matters. Designer labels are important but Italians are also thrifty so they look after their precious possessions and never throw anything away!

Linens too are wonderful; in the times of the share crop farmers each farm would have its own loom.  You can find bolts of linen for next to nothing, as well as sheets, crochet bordered bedcovers, and monogramed pillowcases in the consignment stores, many of which have been hidden for years in the wedding chest as part of the dowry—some not even opened!

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The key to antiquing during the summer months in Italy is preparation. Know where to go by finding out when each market it open and taking note of special holidays when everything will be shut up. If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva tour of Italy any time of year, don’t hesitate to email us at to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to take you through this enchanting country—Diva style!

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva®   

Antiques Diva Resources

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;”>While at The Antiques Diva & Co we’re known for our customized private antique buying tours throughout Europe – our contacts go beyond “just antiques”.  Our local Diva Guides are our greatest assets because they know their regions like the back of their hand… and they have contacts beyond your wildest dreams! Many of our clients are interior designers, which means finding antiques is just one thing on their long to-do list to finish their projects.  In Italy our local Diva Guide Susan has not only antique sources but so much more! Her little black book of artisans and skilled craftsmen is bulging with brilliant ideas.  In addition to sourcing antiques we can also help with new custom Italian furniture either from reclaimed or new materials that can match or coordinate with your antiques.

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Locally based Tuscan Diva Susan explains, “We know that being a decorator or buying for your private home is very different to being an antiques dealer. How often does one look at a piece and say, ‘If only it was a little shorter, a smidgen wider…’ Sometimes the European measurements just don’t match up. Or perhaps you found the perfect table but need twelve chairs instead of just four. With this in mind, it occurred to us on our travels that for you as a designer, maybe we can help with this dilemma.”

Over the years we have gotten to know and become friends with lots of interesting artisans – Italy is famed for its design, taste, and talented craftsmen. Albeit this latter category is a rare and dying breed so we have traveled far and wide to seek out the best small family-run businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation to ensure our clients find the artisans for which they are looking. Passion and pride play a fundamental role in their dedication and success.

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Traditional Elements

We have a source that is fantastic at making high-quality ‘antiqued’ furniture. In particular they have a beautiful range of marquetry dining tables, chairs, and cabinetry and will make bespoke pieces just for you. This eliminates your problems with length, width, height, and style of legs or finish. And better still, we know from past clients that their prices are a fraction of those in the USA.

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Painted Pieces

The father & son business we work with specializes in painted furniture of fine artisan quality. You’d be forgiven for mistaking it for old! The furniture consists of Italian style chests, buffets, cupboards, as well as sconces and chandeliers. The plus is that you can choose the color and the hardware. They use Farrow & Ball, so you will know exactly how the color will turn out, and their standards are high.

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Forged Iron

Tuscany in particular is well known for its ironwork. Our blacksmiths—and truly they are much more than that— are a family of 3 brothers, their father, and nephew. Together they are quite a force, designing and creating some of the most handsome hand-forged wrought iron around, many taken from centuries old designs, but others surprisingly contemporary. They also love to make original and unique pieces of furniture using old wood and adapting older pieces.

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These are just a few of our friends to whet your appetite. We have many, many more sources throughout Europe that can customize, restore or even build pieces to your specification. In fact, we have connections that can customize centuries-old fireplaces or even help you adapt antique staircases, gates, and fountains for your projects! We guarantee that your clients will be delighted with the end result because we have worked with these craftsmen for years.

If you would like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Toma Clark Haines and Susan, Italian Diva Guide, Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Yours truly,

The Antiques Diva®