As you know I have just returned from a trip to Italy and there is too much to tell in one blog post so I am going to share it in stages. This week I will give you a brief summary of our trip leading up to my visit to the embroidery association in Arco.
We started off with 3 days in Rome where we happily re-united with my daughters Stacey and Tessa who live in London. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb apartment right by the Spanish steps. Of course we did all the touristy things like visiting the Vatican, St Peters Basilica, Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona Square. Not only was this the start of a love affair with one of the most beautiful Countries in the world but also the start of an ever increasing waistline as we ate our way through mountains of delicious pasta and pizza at traditional, cafes and restaurants!
We then traveled by train to the charming city of Florence where my daughter’s and I did a cooking class in the Tuscan countryside and learned how to make pizza and gelato.
The handsome Italian chef patiently persevered with my clumsy attempts to toss the pizza dough, finally waving his hands in the air in despair and telling me I needed to practice!
From Florence we went by train to Verona the city of Romeo & Juliet, where we hired a car and made our way to Lake Garda.
With the help of google maps we managed with great difficulty to negotiate the challenges of driving on the wrong side of the road! We spent 8 days in lake garda at an Airbnb apartment near Salo – There are no words to describe the beauty of the lake and surrounding towns, hopefully the photos will give some idea of the stunning scenery?
Whilst there I visited the Arco Embroidery association about an hour away. Arco is a small town at the top of Lake Garda near the border of Austria. The association consists of of approx 30 ladies who meet weekly in a small village hall just outside of Arco.
Rewind a few years back – I received a lovely email from Ilaria(who speaks English) on behalf of Giovanna, saying that my books had greatly helped the ladies with their needle painting and if I was ever in Italy they would love to have me as a guest at their association. At the time I was touched by this message, and thought how wonderful it would be to visit this little village and meet these ladies but never thought it possible!
I was warmly greeted with hugs and excited Italian chatter by Giovanna, Ilaria and her Mum who met us and drove me to the association. Once there, I was overwhelmed by the heartfelt welcome of the ladies who had prepared tea, coffee, champagne and yummy Italian cakes and laid out their work in anticipation of my arrival.
With Ilaria translating I recounted the story of Giovanna’s email and how I never thought it possible that I could be here – Tears came into my eyes and in an emotional meeting of the minds, we all agreed that our common love of embroidery could overcome time and space and allow us to meet, though thousands of miles away. To be among these salt of the earth, Italian ladies and to witness some of their exquisite embroideries was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Next week I look forward to showing you some of their embroideries and sharing with you a bit of what I learned about the traditions of their embroidery, how the art has been passed down through several generations and continues to be a major industry in the lives of both young and old today.
Meanwhile, wherever you are in the world keep smiling and happy stitching.
Ciao, arriver derci!