Unveiling the Box "Mirabilia"
Take a glass of wine, a glass of fresh and mineral Verdicchio, with its typical floral scents, but also another sparkling white wine will be perfect for immersing yourself in the atmosphere of a summer around the Marche region. Take a look at the map of Italy, the shape of the Marche region.
Now open your My Box from Italy, so the journey can begin with your imagination, where you least expect it, to discover places that are not part of the common tourist itineraries.
No one sees us, no one judges us by how we are dressed when we are at home. No stress due to means of transport.
So the atmosphere is perfect to start our journey in complete relax.
Discover the surprises inside Box No. 5.
Coccio of Fratte Rosa- Daniele Giombi
Fratte Rosa is a beautiful town in the province of Pesaro and Urbino perched on a hilltop in a panoramic position. The charm of the town and its traditions, from winemaking and gastronomy to craftsmanship that bestows magnificent ceramics in unique shapes and colors, make it an ideal place to switch off and indulge in a weekend of peace and tranquility.
In the Fratte Rosa area, an area at more than 400 msl characterized by soil made up of clay and limestone, some local farmers have rescued from oblivion a niche product, a particular type of fava bean, the “Favette dei Lubachi.” The farmers' centuries of experience have revealed that the particular type of soil in the area, which the locals call "Lubachi," is very suitable for the cultivation of this variety of fava bean, which, precisely because of the clay, is richer in starches and polyphenols than other varieties, making Fratte Rosa fava beans more flavorful, tender, and sweet.
There's still a mill that can grind them to obtain fava bean flour, a food that, due to its gluten-free nature, has experienced a strong rediscovery by local restaurants in recent years. Indeed, this fava bean flour is part of the culinary history of this area, from the earliest times, it was used to make bread and "Crescia," a flatbread similar to the piadina ( Typical Italian flat bread from Emilia Romagna), that you can find in Emilia Romagna, a culinary legacy of the Byzantine army stationed for centuries in Romagna and northern Marche.
Again thanks to the presence of the clay soils, another centuries-old tradition developed in this area, that of ceramics production, which continues to this day in Fratte Rosa thanks to the surviving artisan workshops and potters, custodians of an ancient tradition made up of forms dating back to the late Middle Ages. For MBFI, I visited Daniele Giombi, who for many years now has been running a small workshop in a well-kept old farmhouse, positioned among the lush hills of the hinterland a few kilometers from Fratte Rosa.
In his hands, raw clay is transformed into everyday utensils that still retain traditional medieval forms. Several steps and sensitivity are required in the hands to achieve the curves that characterize these artifacts.
The production of "folk pottery," or utilitarian pottery, mainly used for baking, containing, storing, and heating, was a very flourishing business in the past and a source of livelihood for the country's many families who engaged in such production.
Cooking food using this material just like in the past has been greatly re-evaluated today and is recommended by nutritionists because it is one of the secrets to healthy and wholesome natural eating.
The main property of earthenware is that it allows slow, even, and consistent cooking at low temperatures that do not alter the flavor of foods. Earthenware is a very porous material, capable of capturing and retaining flavors and fragrances.
Earthenware pots are useful for cooking a great many foods, from legumes and vegetables to fish and meat, and can be used on fireplace embers, induction hobs, and in the oven, and washed in the dishwasher or by hand like any other utensil, without special care.
For the Mirabilia box, I chose for you a cooking pan from Daniele's workshop. After an initial firing, which is meant to dry and consolidate the clay, the artifact was dipped into the liquid that is used for glazing and decorated with dark brush strokes of the typical purplish hue of Fratte Rosa pottery. Your medieval saucepan can be used both to put sauces, beans, and gravies on the table and to cook on the stove actual single servings of whatever you desire.
Do you need a little tip? Look forward to future Newsletters, you'll find a tasty recipe to make with your medieval Fratte Rosa pan.
Handmade paper like in medieval times - Manualis
In this wonderful journey through the Marche region, I decided to pass through Fabriano to bring you a piece of the history of papermaking.
Today only two Master Papermakers remain in Fabriano to carry on the ancient tradition of this city. Both are over sixty and as is often the case in these workshops, there are no young apprentices to carry on the tradition. Fortunately, however, in 2018, three young men decided to roll up their sleeves and reopened the newly bankrupt craft paper mill where they were previously working as employees. They revamped the business, experimenting with new types of paper and creating a new, super-customized offering, especially for artists, for whom they create paper with grain and weight upon request and give the possibility of inserting in the paper a recognition watermark or UV fibers, which enable you to recognize the uniqueness and originality of the paper and thus of the artwork as if it were a banknote!
A wonderful and ecological return to tradition and quality is accomplished in Manualis' workshops. The sheets they produce are 100 percent cotton or hemp, made one by one in the vat following the ancient techniques handed down over the centuries by Master Papermakers. But that's not all!
In the 1200s, the paper was created by macerating rags in water and animal gelatin glue. Manualis makes special papers from recycled materials provided by the customer, be they plain scraps of paper and cardboard or remnants of cloth of any kind such as silk, wool, cashmere, jeans, leather, or more, to create a unique, custom-made paper.
The only difference is that animal glue is replaced with cotton sheet cellulose, which is more expensive and of higher quality than plant cellulose because it does not contain lignin, a chemical compound derived from wood that is used to give paper strength but requires highly polluting manufacturing processes.
Moreover, the recovery of rainwater and waste minimizes the environmental impact to almost zero.
Fashion houses such as Fendi and Chanel have chosen Manualis paper to make the books for their new collections, and other major brands are having eco-labels made from recycled materials from their productions to manifest the exclusivity and sophistication of their brand.
For you, inside Mirabilia there is a Cotton Paper Clutch containing a Pink Hemp Paper envelope, which you can jealously guard and pull out just to tell this story, or use for a card for an important occasion that deserves a fine paper to convey your message. I also wanted to add two sheets of paper decorated with flower petals and two sheets made from denim fabric, so that you can touch the innovation combined with the ancient techniques of traditional handmade papermaking. With My Box from Italy, stories are not just words, they are a beauty to touch.
The Lace Jewel - Iolanda Ottavi
Offida is famous for the laborious and patient art of delicate bobbin lace. The oldest known laces are those dating back to the 15th century that adorn the gowns of St. Giovanni da Capistrano and St. Giacomo della Marca preserved by the monks of Monteprandone.
Various historical records confirm the presence of Offida lace in the 16th century.
It was not until centuries later, in 1950, that the first Bobbin Lace Fair was held in Offida. The art of bobbin lace, skillfully practiced by the women of the village, often sitting in small groups in front of the doorway, has been handed down from generation to generation, from a simple handkerchief to a fine game of weaving, for the production of artifacts of rare value and beauty.
The bobbin lace design is made from patterns drawn on oiled paper, pasted on cardboard then perforated along the edges.
The design that characterizes each lace is stopped on the bobbin, a cylindrical pillow, with small pins. The bobbins, laden with thread, weave the patterns of lace around them. The art of Offida lace thus finds in the weaving of the bobbins a gesture of great skill and the creative act of stunning decorative works, the production of which is covered by a specific Disciplinary.
A distinctive characteristic, almost a symbol of the lace makers of Offida and the village, is a small butterfly, reproduced in a light flight. Lace is used to decorate tablecloths and sheets, make furniture centers, and embellish handkerchiefs, dresses, shirts, and gloves. New ideas and insights into the application of the art of lace to local craft production come to fruition in the creation of small objects for furniture or more strictly personal use.
Listening to the sound the bobbins make as they pass between the lacemaker's fingers is mesmerizing; it is fascinating to think about how much history there is in that gesture, which was already practiced exactly that way in the late Middle Ages. As with all ancient arts, there are not many people still practicing bobbin lace in Offida, although there are associations dedicated to teaching this ancient art with the hope of still passing it on over time.
To bring this story to you, to give you a chance to "touch" it and really hold the authenticity of Italian handcrafted products in your hands, I contacted a special artisan.
Over the years, craftswoman Iolanda Ottavi has delved into the various techniques of bobbin lace, eventually developing a new interpretation.
Iolanda was the first to experiment with the use of lace to create real jewelry, through the use of metallic thread, gold, stones, pearls, and diamonds, again using the bobbin lace technique, for applications on wedding dresses, jewelry, and dresses and accessories for major fashion shows, and applications for furniture items.
Her works pick up the traces of an ancient past to combine elegantly with an all-new design that is keeping up with the times. The truth is that Iolanda no longer practices the art of bobbin lace, although her workshop is still legally open, some hardship has forced her to put aside her passion.
The request of an enthusiastic girl in love with beauty, art, and traditions helped awaken in her, an artisan who has made a small piece of history of this ancient art, the desire to weave the threads again. And that is how I managed to get something really special for Mirabilia, a bracelet from Merletto Gioiello. Iolanda Ottavi created a limited number of bijoux in two color variations, gold and silver.
Iolanda making a silver bracelet for the Mirabilia Box.
I spent a rainy afternoon with her walking through the alleys of Offida and then visited her closed store. I was lucky enough to get to know her stories and see her precious creations collected in photo albums of major fashion shows jealously guarded in an archive of fashion history and memories. The difficulty of crafting lace with this technique is obvious just by looking at how the crafting is done, but the time, the time it takes to create, despite the speed of the most experienced hands, like Iolanda's, the time cannot be quantified. I asked her how long it took to embroider a small leaf. After a few seconds of silence, a sigh, with her eyes hinting at a smile, her answer was simply "A long time."
It takes a long time to embroider with a bobbin. And it is the value of time, the past, and history that I want to bring you in a box from Italy.
Acqua del Conero Perfume
Sometimes smells awaken our sweetest memories, bringing us back to reliving the atmosphere of a place and a special time.
I think of the feeling that the blooming wisteria gives me, to me it represents the beginning of summer and the end of school. Even now that I'm grown up, when I smell that warm, pungent scent, I feel good, light, and free, even though I'm actually long out of school. I wanted a scent for Mirabilia that could convey to you something more about this land. That's how I found Giampaolo and was able to visit a small perfumery and body wellness products workshop right by the sea. I got to see with my own eyes the workshop and the two girls dedicated to hand-packaging perfumes. Giampaolo proudly showed me the packaging of their products, because every single label and every little box that contains the perfume bottles is folded and closed manually.
I have chosen for you a handmade perfume produced in a small workshop in the Marche region and named after Monte Conero, a promontory located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. A symbolic place in the Marche region, where a famous and fragrant Mediterranean plant grows well: a unique Lavender, organically grown on the hills of Conero, to which the characteristic marine microclimate gives a very special olfactory aroma appreciated by everybody. All Acqua del Conero products are strictly made in Italy and created with respect for the environment by skilled artisans, who have been in the perfumery and wellness industry since 1995.
The ingredients are of natural origin and contain no toxic or animal components.
From the crystal-clear waters that lap Mount Conero, once ravaged by fierce pirates, comes a sought-after and pleasant fragrance, an essence reminiscent of the magic of the sea and the serenity of sunsets with the smell of Lavender.
A fragrance that will convey to you the atmosphere of a region beautiful to visit in all seasons.
Fine wool and pattern to make your own neck warmer - Sibillana
“Healthy breeding with respect for the environment and animal physiology.”
Nowadays, everything we wear is produced industrially, and in such a fast-paced society we don't have time to stop and think about how our T-shirt got to our closet, where it came from, and how much and what places in the world were polluted to produce it.
I will not dwell on environmental pollution and textile industries. Instead, I will tell you about Sibillana, a small company in the Marche region that stands out for its very short supply chain and for putting the environment and animal welfare first. Sibillana was born thanks to the courage of Giulia and her husband, and indeed, it takes great courage and generosity of spirit to allow oneself to be carried away by a dream into such an adventure.
In that Blog News I share with you the extra-ordinary beginning of their adventure.
Inside the Mirabilia Box, you will find a precious skein of Sopravvissana wool, dyed using natural methods and processed by a very short supply chain in the Sibillini Mountains in the Marche region.
The Sopravvissana sheep is an endangered breed, native to the Marche region, now raised mainly along the Apennine ridge between Marche, Umbria, Lazio, and Abruzzo. It is one of the Italian "Merino-derived" breeds, born from the crossbreeding of local Marchigiana sheep (of the Vissana breed) and French Merino rams of the Rambouillet breed, donated by the people of France to the Pope and distributed in the then papal farms during the 18th century.
Sibillana is a niche product, quantities are limited, and each batch is processed individually to allow traceability of each skein. In the spinning plant located in Montefortino (Fm), it is possible to process very small batches in purity. The processing cycle, from freshly sheared fleece to spinning, is done with a very low environmental impact, the resources used come from renewable sources, and even the packaging is entirely made of recycled paper.
If you want to check for yourself, you can visit them!
Giulia has set up an interesting little museum on the history of wool processing and will show you how she accomplishes the process of dyeing yarn in a totally natural way, with the help of the sun and plants from her vegetable garden.
The beauty of imperfection
You may find small plant fragments in all Sibillana products, which at first glance might appear as a flaw; in fact, the way Sibillana sees things, this is a virtue. Each stage of fleece cleaning has a very low environmental impact. No chemical additives are used in the washing stage, and the removal of straw or dandruff is done solely through a mechanical and manual process. Therefore, the presence of straw is synonymous with respect for the environment and thus, according to the philosophy of this very small company, with quality!
Along with it, another gift! A pattern to follow so you can make your collar!
I sincerely hope you enjoyed the selection of Italian treasures in this August edition, let me know in the comments or leave a review on website.
Get your Mirabilia, very few are still available!