Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Una Tartaruga (A turtle)

“Even a turtle doesn’t get anywhere unless he sticks his neck out”

About a year ago we received the news that we would indeed be returning to the States in July.  Though this was expected, it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow.  We weren't just on vacation, we had a life in Italy.  And a wonderful life at that.  We had learned a better way to live and were so so happy.  It seemed unimaginable at that point to return to the rush of America, to trudge through Walmart, to trade typical long four course meals for restaurants trying to turn tables, to trade outdoor markets for the strip malls of suburbia.  I was worried we would lose it all and go back to the way things were.  So together with my husband, I thought of a plan.  A way to bring  some of the life back with us.  A way to remember the slow pace, the gathering of friends… a way to remember how to spend days in “a wonderful waste of time”. 

In March 2011, I started building company to bring the best of Europe to America.  The goal was a perfectly curated shop of European gifts and home d├ęcor with a focus on quality, authentic merchandise.  I spent a year learning the ins and outs of import/ export regulations (not fun), months building relationships with my favorite Italian vendors (more fun), and each day gathering lists and lists of those quintessential items that bring to mind life in Europe (this is where I thrive). 

We found ourselves in places we never thought we would be and establishing relationships with people we would have never met otherwise.  The meetings with the owners of the hand loomed cashmere company were always incredible.  This beautiful couple from Milan and were the most stylish people I have ever met.  He wore super tight blue velvet suits that looked incredible and she was never seen without five inch heels.  In the true Italian way, we always had coffee before talking business.   The drives to Bologna to find the Fed Ex that would ship to the United States were less fun and communicating in Italian about duties for the exports was harrowing but still memorable.  I’ll never forget the day the scarves were photographed.  It was June and at least 90 degrees and we had mannequins dressed in sweaters and scarves on the side of a country Italian road.   People stopped their cars and turned around to ask what was happening.

I must tell you, in so many ways the plan has worked.  Of course we have moved on and are embracing life here.  We don’t live in the past.  However, at the same time I have a DAILY reminder of the life we had and I absolutely love having a way to share it.  Writing the product descriptions is enjoyable as it brings to mind so many memories.  There is a story or a reason behind every item on the website.  I also adore staying in contact with my vendors in Italy (and having a reason to keep up my Italian), from the amazing photographer whose gorgeous photos fill the website to my source for Italian leather bags.

I named the company Via Montebello which was the street we lived on in Ferrara, Italy.  The logo is inspired by the street sign.  The online shop is filled with all things beautiful from Europe.  In fact all of the merchandise has lived the European scene for a portion of its life.  We do not sell reproductions.  From the softest hand loomed cashmere to hand painted ceramics, all items are in limited quantities.  Some are the only one of its kind.

With the founding of Via Montebello, I am definitely sticking my neck out there, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  So far it is working out to be un bello venture.

Check it out if you wish… www.viamontebello.com