CHIAVARI, Italy – This past weekend Chiavari hosted the 156th Tigullio Fair. The fair was made up of artists and artisans of every type, including sculptors, painters, those who work with mosaics, those who create the designs in the piazzas using black and white cobblestones, people who make macrame’, lace, silk and velvet, transform blank walls into works of art using the ancient technique of trompe l’oeil, those who paint on silk, on porcelain, pottery makers, and even those who make the Chiavari chair, the number one product that put Chiavari on the map. And more.
|Raoul Cuneo' Castillo and Cinzia Caloma|
The more included people who run small workshops making everything from boats to children’s clothing. It reminded me of the days before business became big business and everyone knew the town shoemaker, the dressmaker, the carpenter, and the guy who could fix your roof or shoe your horse.
Italy has always been a country of small businesses, family owned, antique traditions handed down from father to son, generation after generation. And that included farmers and wine makers as well as those who produced olive oil.
|I Miei Bijoux by Elena Augelli|
The fair itself is a long-held local tradition. It was organized by the Economic Society of Chiavari, which was founded on April 15, 1791 by a local Marquis and a group of nobles and businessmen. The sole purpose of the organization is to promote and protect the culture, economic activities, art, education and environment of Chiavari. The Society is nonpartisan and does not favor or discriminate against any political party, religious, social or school of thought. That is straight from their web site and I must say, I’m impressed.
|La Buccia by Magdalena Mirca|
I met some pretty amazing people at the fair, including a woman who makes children’s clothing, another who makes jewelry, one who makes handbags and yet another who makes wedding dresses – all handmade, all Italian and all top quality goods. I didn’t have a chance to talk to the boat maker, but it looked to me that the boat on display was the type used to teach kids how to sail. This is a land of sailors, after all, and just about every town along the sea offers sailing courses for kids during the summer. The small boats are called ottimisti, or optimists, which is the most perfect name for them, as all the kids are optimistic at this stage of the game.
I'm sorry to say wasn't able to talk to everyone or get their name, but I wanted you to see them, or at least their product anyway. I'll try to do better next year.
I didn’t know what to expect from the fair, somewhere in the back of my mind were visions of guys selling slicer/dicer/cabbage shredders and miracle knives that can cut through steel, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was more like a ‘getting to know you’ party, with people happy to talk about how they spend their days producing things we actually need and use. It was nice.