by Melinda Gallo

I love artigianato

Today I went to the Mostra internazionale dell'Artigianato with a new girlfriend of mine. I love artigianato (handicrafts), which is the slogan for this year's mostra (show). I am always amazed by the beautiful objects that these artists create and share with the world. I look forward to this mostra every year.

Because it was Saturday and Friday was a holiday, the city has been filled with Italian tourists. I was a little worried that the mostra would be crowded, but we decided to try our luck. We arrived a little after 10 a.m. after having a coffee and pasta (pastry) at my favorite bar and then walking through town past Piazza Repubblica, the newly restored Santa Maria Novella church, and the train station.

The last few days, the weather has been sunny but cool. The temperatures are inching up a little bit, but while we were walking in the shade, it was a bit chilly because of the cool wind.

There were only a few people waiting in line when we got there, but we were able to quickly purchase our biglietti (tickets) and go through to the main padiglione (pavillon) without much struggle.

Florence is famous for its artigiani (artisans) who create artistic handcrafts with wood, ceramica (ceramics), and pelle (leather) to name a few. But, many people probably don't know that there are many other artigiani who make custom shoes, clothing, unique handbags, jewelry, and much more.

I love to walk down the aisles and go towards what attracts me. When the handicrafts do interest me, I walk up to the stand, look at everything more closely, and compliment the artist. Every person that I spoke with today was incredibly sweet, open, and kind to me. I had previously met a few of these artigiani because I have already been into their shops downtown.

One of the women that was there makes her own jewelry. My friend and I looked around and when she looked up at me, I said hello to her. She didn't recognize me at first, but then suddenly remembered me and even was able to tell me the present that I bought for my girlfriend last Christmas.

We talked a little and she told me how difficult it was to be at the mostra because it's a thirteen hour day for almost ten days. Most of the artigiani work alone, so they have to attend the mostra every day, show off their work, interact with the public, and try to sell what they have lugged to the mostra.

Before we left, she handed us two free passes to get in for free. She said that she didn't know who to give them to and if we'd use them, she'd like for us to have them. I told her that I'd come back to see her again, which I plan on doing before the mostra ends.

After we walked through the main paviglione, we waited in line to order some lunch and eat outside on the benches. There were different types of food to buy, like Japanese, a trippaio (tripe stand), German sausages and sauerkraut, panini (sandwiches), and pizza.

We continued our visit of the other paviglioni and then walked back through town to have a drink and a dessert in Piazza Repubblica. The sun was shining and everyone at the mostra and in centro (downtown) seemed to be in good spirits especially us.

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