Basket Weavers- Artisan of the Month

Basket weavers,  the  artisan of the month, came to my mind when in need of a particular basket to carry 2 liter size  bottles.   When I began to fix our abandoned 500 year old house in Tuscany years ago  I questioned  my neighbor  where was the  best place to buy baskets.   I was surprised when Lina  suggested  that I go next door to her uncle who makes the baskets. You can order what you want in size, shape, color, strength and he could fulfill your request in a day or two.  It was hard to believe but she proved to be right and I became a regular friend and customer of Pietro.  I was fascinated with his ability to take my  order, then go out of his house and pick some branches from his willow tree or if needing a large basket,  some wild branches of  cane that grow profusely in our area. After a good soaking they would be ready to use.

Pietro weaving his baskets

When he passed away I asked Santina, his daughter,  who would now make the baskets?  I was afraid of the answer which I  often hear about the artisans of yesterday. “ Nobody does it anymore”. Sure you might find someone in a village that  continues this craft but not as seen in the past . Their tools were usually  a sturdy garden clipper, a bucket  of water and all kinds of pliable materials that were either  found in the woods are cut from the fields:  plant roots, trunk bark,  willow branches, honeysuckle reed, and to me many other  unknown  products of nature.

Elizabeth picking up orders for Villa Lucia

Pietro  would make house visits to fulfill orders.  He was particularly busy during the grape and olive harvest when orders for holding grape and olive baskets were hard to fulfill. I remember in the late 80’s during the grape  harvest all our baskets were made of natural products by Pietro. Today they are all colorful plastic containers  industrially made to mass product. I feel  fortunate to have a number of the beautiful artisan made baskets by Pietro.

Grape basket Pietro made for me

We had over a dozen of these harvest baskets, over 3 feet in height.

These are but a few of the baskets he made for me to meet my needs from a big weeping willow tree in  in his yard.   The dark color is the natural color and the white comes from young branches he had peeled to their white base. I loved watching him first make the base, creating a framework to meet my request and then  filling in the spaces with the chosen material using his creative skills.

laundry basket 3 feet high (3)

Drying fig baskets, 3 inches high,

laundry basket 3 feet high (1)

Laundry basket 3 feet high

not easy to find a basket for 2 liter bottles, only plastic for one liter bottles (2) 3 inch high basket to dry figs to fit all our fireplaces  (2)to fit all our fireplaces  (1)

Basket weaving may be one of the oldest  and widest spread crafts in the world. Its  origin is difficult to determine since  necessity made one creative with whatever product was available to make whatever was needed. A soft rush may make an angling basket for fishermen in Scotland, in Italy a basket for carrying grapes  and  in Japan the soft rush could be woven into a tatami, the traditional floor cover .

The craftsmen today may purchase  ready to use products such as natural reed, split wood ( flat, round, or even) which after  a soak in water  would be ready to use.  As for the exact shape and style, guess my option is to shop for it or settle for one of the industrial plastic mass produced baskets.

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Fun in Italy with My Sister-Friends

Just spent  two wonderful weeks  traveling alone with my 13 year old granddaughter Laila.  From Rome to  Abruzzo  to our Tuscany farm followed by a  fabulous  week with friends at their  tuscan seashore home before going  off to  romantic Venice. There  daughter  Michelle joined us and then led us to a new and exciting  experience  to Croatia.

 

Laila-s first night in Venice (1) Love this girl (1) With our friends for a week in Castiglioncello IMG_2750  Michelle arranged 5 great days in Croatia (1)IMG_3096

We three ladies had so much fun that it reminded me of great  friends I refer to as my family of sisters that have given me such wonderful memories together on both sides of the Atlantic. I feel  very fortunate living where I want to live and be visited by all my wonderful friends from across the ocean. Is it Italy? Is it away from the pressures of home? Is it  having fun with only ladies? Whatever it is we seem  to laugh alot, have loads of fun doing nothing special other than enjoying the simple pleasures of life in Italy.

No men allowed, Call us next week, maybe.

No men allowed, Call us next week, maybe.

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Shirley gets a pizza lesson and then he is out the door.

Have no idea what in the world we were doing

Have no idea what in the world we were doing

Elizabeth's eyeballs ready to drop.

Elizabeth’s eyeballs ready to drop.

Early riser gets the first cup of coffee,

Early riser gets the first cup of coffee

Didn't know you would love the eggs that much

Didn’t know you would love the eggs that much

Desert ladies enjoying Cinque Terre.

Palm Desert ladies enjoying the sea at Portovenere.

Can you image if we drank?

Can you image if we drank?

Barbara they are suppose to burn, then you peal it off

Barbara they are suppose to burn, then you peal it off

AT 3 am we are still full of vigor

AT 3 am we are still full of vigor

After our week, Lela goes to Paris to manage hotels.

After our week, Lela goes to Paris to manage hotels.

So they said they never smoked, Umm

So they said they never smoked, Umm

Fun with the ladies in the kitchen.

Fun with the ladies in the outside kitchen.

Opera Pacific Week of Culture with the Opera Board.

Opera Pacific Week of Culture with the Opera Board.

She may be crazy but must say loads of fun

She may be crazy but must say loads of fun

 

 

 

The Australian Ladies kiss the wrong Mr Furti.

The Australian Ladies had to meet a man at the train station, They learned how to kiss and kiss on greeting,  He kissed back, Then he boarded the train with a smile, They realized it was not Mr Furti they were suppose to meet.

Those Italian ladies  hate to wash forks

Those Italian ladies hate to wash forks

Tomorrow can't be better than today

Tomorrow can’t be better than today

 

Ok Ladies, I shall get back to you.

Ok Ladies, I shall get back to you.

Tonight we dress for carnival

Tonight we dress for carnival

You can't hide. He will find you

You can’t hide. He will find you

He found her

He found her

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a week decided maybe a few men could be invited, ssssso

After a week decided maybe a few men could be invited, so

 

got some cowbow hats and had a party

got some cowboy hats and had a party

a little dance music helps as well.

a little dance music helps as well.

Fun being a cow girl.

Fun being a cow girl.

never met him before but he is fun.

never met him before but he is fun.

 Hats can change a person

Hats can change a person

she was shy before this

She was shy before this

 

 

1She breaks her angle and laughs non stop

Janet breaks her ancle and can not stop laughing, The doctors said they never saw anything like this.

 wonder what she is on.

wonder what she is on.

still laughing...

still laughing…

still laughing

still laughing

I refuse to get into that Italian chair.

Had to wheel her out but she refused to get into that Italian chair.

Love the attention

Love the attention

 

 

ma queste donne sono pazze (  crazy ladies all they do is laugh)

ma questa donna è pazza! Ma che cavolo sta facendo? Si è rotta una gamba e ride… ( crazy lady, breaks a leg and doesn’t stop laughing.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needed some fresh air in  Rome so went out to help the trash collectors at 2 am.

Needed some fresh air in Rome so went out to help the trash collectors at 2 am.

Melinda having trouble painting her carnival face

Melinda having trouble painting her carnival face

karen joins me for an International, all expensive cooking week in Liguria

Karen joins me for an International Cooking competition, for an all expensive paid week  in Cinque Terre

Janet what you make me buy, I shall never use this cape.

Janet what you make me buy, I shall never use this thing, and I never have..

Janet and Renato peaking into my room

Janet and Renato peaking into my room

singing while cooking

singing while cooking

 

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Guests at the Tasca Vineyard  Estate in Sicily

Guests at the Tasca Vineyard Estate in Sicily

My scandinavian sisters (tuscany girls) for 25 years we have had monthly dinners. Here they join me in Portovenere, Italy

My Scandinavian sisters (tuscany girls) for 25 years we have had monthly dinners. Here they join me in Portovenere, Italy

Melinda's girls ate the whole container

Melinda’s girls ate the whole container

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mignatti

 

Ialians love those tomatoes

Ialians love those tomatoes

 

ladies having fun in the kitchen (1)

 

Croatia (2)

Venerina my right hand for 15 years

Erna in the kitchen

Erna, a sister-friend for over  40 years

 

ladies having fun in the kitchen

Rusty, a sister-friend of over 40 years as well

 

Still one of the very best weeks years ago, Four great friends enjoyed Rome to, Venice for carnival, and then a long night when two forgot to get off the train.

Still one of the very best weeks, years ago, Four great friends enjoyed Rome to Venice for carnival, and then a long night when two forgot to get off the train at midnight.

 

Now this is when we might miss the men.
Now this is when we might miss the men.

 

Next month we cross the Atlantic to the Pacific to see life with my sister-friends in California.