Our founders Marco and Alice Margaritelli recently returned from their annual trip to Umbria and Tuscany, combining work with family, fun and, of course, food! The traditional Italian way of life celebrates work and play in equal measures, and this trip was no exception.
After traveling to Italy for 25 years to select handcrafted wares to bring to the United States, the Margaritellis have refined their schedule to an exact science. Each day begins with a piping hot espresso, drunk quickly in the Italian fashion, and then it’s off to work with one of their 17 factories. After working steadily for three hours, it’s time to stop, sit down and enjoy the Italian lunch, a long and leisurely affair which begins promptly at 1:00 PM. At 3 o’clock, it’s back to business with another supplier, perusing the latest selections of artisan-made ceramics. The designs they discover are so incredible and inspiring, says Marco, that they want to buy every single piece!
At 6, the work day ends and it’s time for dinner – either with family or their friends at the factories. One night they were whisked away by their Tuscan suppliers for an amazing seven-course meal at the top of a mountain. Classic Italian meals begins with the antipasto (prosciutto, salami and cold cuts), primo piatto (pasta) and the secondo piatto (meat), followed by even more courses. When you go to Italy, you eat, and eat, and eat, the Margaritellis laughingly said. Alice learned on her first trip (after being filled up just by the appetizer) the key to enjoying the multicourse Italian meal: savor small portions of each and every dish. Their favorite local food? Tartufo (truffles), hands down – both black and white. This Umbrian specialty irresistibly flavors nearly every kind of food, including chicken, veal, eggs and pasta.
While all trips to Italy are memorable, the Margaritellis found this trip to be extraordinarily special for two reasons. To begin with, this trip marked the launch of the first-ever collection that they designed. Used to buying finished pieces, they envisioned a new series of designs, the Nuova Toscana Collection, which embodies traditional Tuscan design with a modern twist—simpler, less ornamental vessels suited to today’s tastes that still retain the classic Tuscan aesthetic. Working one-on-one with the potter, they created their own unique shapes – minimal, refined and elegant. More on this new collection later…stay tuned!
And perhaps most special of all, Marco and Alice attended the Festival of Saint John the Baptist, the patron of his hometown of Marsciano in Umbria. Marco’s father, who recently passed away, was a mentor to the aspiring musicians of the town, and as a result, they dedicated an entire opening evening of the festival to his father, filled with music, poetry, laughter and tears.
I discovered a father I didn’t know that night, says Marco, and it was a beautiful, beautiful night. And yes, Marco (who was once in a band himself) capped off the evening with a traditional folk song in tribute to his father.