Monday, January 26, 2004

Day 3 - Perugia and Deruta

Day 3 starts a little later than usual, as we adjust to the new time zone. After making a few morning telephone calls we take a brief stroll down Perugia's Corso Vanucci, the main street in the historic center. We really love Perugia. It's one of our favorite places in Italy, but despite its accessibility and all it has to offer, it is often overlooked by American tourists. We are really excited when our friend and supplier Javier Casuso (D'Arna Ceramics) arranges for an English speaking friend to take us on a walking tour of the historic center on Wednesday. Check back for more details.

After noon we pick up Javier at his studio in Ponte San Giovanni, a small town about 10 miles outside of Perugia, to have lunch together at the Deco Hotel. We have gotten to be good friends with Javier and his wife Marina over the years, and we often have lunch or dinner with them at the Deco Hotel. This place is off the beaten tourist path, serving meals mostly to local businessmen. With Javier's entree, we are always welcomed warmly and have never had a bad meal. They feature an excellent selection of seafood, which may seem odd for an Umbrian restuarant. Nonetheless, the quality is outstanding.

Lunch is a largely social affair and we are fortunate to have Marina drop in on us at the end of the meal. We enjoy their company immensely, as Javier is a Spaniard who emigrated to Perugia and can speak eloquently about his art as well as about Italian life from an outsider's perspective. On the other hand, Marina's roots in Perugia are deep. We enjoy learning about Italy and their corner of it, and spend countless hours comparing stories about raising four children in Washington and Perugia.

We part after lunch with a promise to drop by the studio to see several new ceramic patterns Javier has been working on. We hope to add some of these to our product line.

Then it is off to Ficola, one of the largest ceramics establishments in Deruta. We spend quite a bit of time there selecting new product for the store, including a number of outdoor ceramic tables and outdoor handpainted garden urns for the spring. While we can special order these items, they can take several months to be manufactured and delivered, so if you are interested in one, stop by the store to see what we have in inventory.

Next, it's on to Geribi, one of our favorite suppliers in Deruta. Although we have an appointment with Josephine Durkin, Geribi's Kiwi business manager, we are fortunate to see Gerardo. He is an immensely talented man whose designs, which are modern interpretations of classic patterns, have brought new life to Deruta ceramics and who is a respected and oft-imitated leader in this artistic community. Gerardo is finalizing some new designs to be publicly displayed at a major gift expo in New York and he and Josephine give us an advance look at some of those designs. If you miss the New York expo, be sure to check Bella Italia this spring for their new line!

Although Josephine is busy preparing to leave for the show, she takes us to meet the proprietors of le Case Coloniche, a beautiful agroturismo bed and breakfast inn in the countryside just outside of Deruta. We spend an hour with Francesco and Andrea, the proprietors, getting a tour of the facilities and speaking to them about activities available to their guests, including horseback riding, tours of Perugia, Assisi and other sites, visits to the Perugina chocolate factory and, of course, ceramics shopping in Deruta as well as cashmere outlet shopping in nearby towns. The Case Coloniche is a terrific choice between a hotel and a rental villa, offering many of the amenities of the former with the rustic charm of the latter. They also offer much greater flexibility than most villa rentals, which normally require a weeklong booking and accommodate larger groups only. Rooms at the Case Coloniche (which include simple bedrooms as well as multi-bedroom apartments with kitchen) can be booked by the day for a single traveller, but can also accommodate larger groups as well. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in further information.

We end our evening at dinner at Il Rustichello, a charming Umbrian restaurant adjoining Le Case Coloniche. Josephine knows the proprietors well and we are treated traditional Umbrian fare, including a lot of truffles, served by the mother, father, son and daughter who run the Rustichello (Uscita Deruta Nord, tel 075-972020; closed Tuesdays). Guests at Le Case Coloniche can dine here both well and affordably and stumble home for a good night sleep.

Speaking of which, it is nearly 2:30 in the morning in Italy and we have an 11am appointment with some very interesting people in Todi tomorrow morning, so you will have to check in tomorrow for additional news.

Ciao a presto!
Suzy and Bill

No comments: