Italy has a reputation for high quality local crafts, but the country’s artigiani – traditional artisans – have struggled to compete with the increasing commercialisation of their country in recent years. Indeed The Guardian reported that Italian artisans were turning increasingly to the internet and the convenience of selling to supermarkets, in order to try and make a living. It seems that the traditional crafts of Italy are in danger of being lost to mass production, with the demise of uniqueness and quality that such a move usually entails.
However, my wife is determined to fight for the country’s artigiani. From our Italian base in Le Marche Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, a co-founder in our family-run company Appassionata, is supporting and working alongside local artisans. The individuals that Dawn works with are often the third or fourth generation of their family to carry out the specialist local crafts. Their workshops range from tiny warehouses to ramshackle wooden huts.
Dawn explains,“I feel privileged to have had the chance to meet and support so many talented artisans in Le Marche. Appassionata’s ethos is to support small local businesses and to help the region’s economy wherever possible. Many of the artisans we work with have tiny facilities at their disposal but what they produce is incredible.”
We are showcasing the items she has bought in the two unique homes that we have restored on the beautiful Estate Giacomo Leopardi in Montefiore dell'Aso.
Casa Leopardi is bursting with traditional Italian character. The lamps and light fittings are made by self-taught artisan Alfio Giuffrida, who developed his passion as a child while sitting at his mother and grandmother’s knees while they made lampshades.
The Brinci family, who have been running a blacksmith business in the local town of Petritoli since Eugino Brinci set up there over 200 years ago, have worked alongside Dawn to design and manufacture terrace railings and gates, fireplace doors, ornate ties and stair rails.
Casa Leopardi also features bespoke pottery created by brother and sister team Annamaria and Emanule Bozzi, from Montotone, who keep traditional craftsmanship alive while Grandfather Mario sits at the pottery wheel teaching his grandchildren to follow in his footsteps.
We spent months working on the landscaping around the house and developed any ideas for plants and layout from our new friend Lalo. His family have been growing plants for over 60 years. His grandfather started the business in partnership with a man who owned some land in Grottammare, but now based in the Menocchia valley below Massignano. His grandfather would work the land to create the nursery and the two men would split the profit at the end of the year. Lalo exports a great number of plants out of Italy and is always looking for more opportunities.
With spectacular views over the crystal waters of the Adriatic and the distant Sibillini Mountains, Casa Leopardi is the perfect picture of rural Italian living. Interior designer Dawn has worked hard to ensure that the interior of the house matches its magnificent setting. The unique pieces sourced from the local artisans are subtly complemented by Dawn's highly individualised antique collection. The result is a house that encapsulates all of the historic charm and local tradition that Italy has to offer.
Dawn continues, “Our passion for Italy has allowed Appassionata to create something truly wonderful in our properties. We are delighted that by offering our fractional properties we are able to share this genuine slice of the Italian dream with more than one lucky individual.”