Thursday, May 1, 2014

Florence Italy Artisan Fair

Dear Art-Loving Friend,

     Today is the last day for Florence, Italy's "Mostra Internazionale dell’ Artigianato" or as my friend calls it, "The Ethnic Fair."  She looks forward to it every year.  This was the first time that I had ever attended.  It is held in the Fortezza da Basso, a huge contemporary exhibition space and former stronghold for the city.

     We went on Sunday, with the reduced entrance fee of only 4 euro (instead of 5,50).  [It is azalea season here, so the entrance was pretty.  Inside there are TONS of booths and they are organized in various sections. 

     My sister and brother-in-law are a big fan of beers, especially the flavored beers or regional brands.  This book caught my eye long enough to get offered a shot of beer for breakfast.  [Alex says this means "Success." ha]

The following shot was in the home and garden section, I think.  It seems so Italian to me and is a fun idea:

     I enjoyed the building containing recycled crafts that featured hand-made practical things from everyday objects.  Although well designed, I am not sure that the purses made from inner tubes and tires would suit me.  I could smell them from a fair distance!  However, there were many clever and some attractive ideas. 

     In the section of health products, my friend and I got to sample "Ass Milk" [a Kelly translation!] on our hands.  This lotion is made from donkey milk and appears on the expensive side.  But it felt good and was not at all greasy.  Naturally, I bumped into a friend of mine.  He patiently waited to say hello until I was done with the ass.

     The rich colors of spices never cease to charm me and there were several booths offering up these colorful and tasty treats.  I just wish that I knew more about what to do with them.

     Enjoy some of the largest loaves of bread that I have ever seen:

     And what patterns these umbrellas en masse make!

     My friend and I spent most of the time in the lower level of one building... what she calls the Ethnic Fair.  It is arranged by country, so it reminded me a bit of Disney's "It's a Small World" or Epcot... I bought rocks, but there were plenty of other temptations.  The little girl dresses are from Madagascar and really adorable.  Just another reason to go see that island country.

     I had to get the dog shot in since I love dogs inside... who knew really until I had my own companion.  He changed everything.  Italia is definitely open to allowing dogs in anywhere.  I just wish that Firenze had more public garden spaces for the animals to enjoy.

     This next is an image of one of the several varieties of 3-D "carving" machines.  I know that sculptors are jumping on board this idea of scanning their designs or creating sculptures on a computer and then cutting them out using a program and automatic blades, but for me, that is just not sexy enough and takes the tactile fun out of it for me.  However, the technology is in use and I cannot stop "progress" even if it ruins my own career.  And truthfully, I am still fascinated by machines. and engineering.

     This last building we entered contained more of the finer arts.  This last image is not a painting.  It is one of the images created in "pietra dura" (literally translated into "hard stone").  It is the fine art of mosaic and each piece of stone is carefully choosen for its colors and patterns and then precisely hand cut to fit into the next shaped stone.  I have mixed feeling for "Pietra dura."  If the right stones are chosen and the design is artistic, then I tend to feel awe when I see them.  If not, they look kitsch and horrid.

     Today is the last day of the Arts and Crafts fair at the Fortezza.  It is open until 10 p.m. today and I am told it is bargaining day more than any of the others were.  Last night was Firenze's "Notte Bianca" and between that and having friends in town this week, I am getting a late start on the day.  Today is also another one of those Italian spring holidays.  So, I need to get to work now!  Thank you for reading.

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