"I thought -- and now I know -- that Italians claim more time for their lives." - Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
Ah, Italy. Memories of 2003. Memories of abandoning my first blog (titled The Big Picture):
"I abandoned my first blog somewhere in the vicinity of the Duomo in Milan. Strolling in the shadows of the cathedral, I noted families walking slowing in the plaza, laughing, immersed in the languid Sunday evening tradition.
Waiting in line that thick July evening for my nocciola gelato was savored just as much as the first lick of the cone.
Italians perfected “Il Dolce Far Niente" ("the sweetness of doing nothing") to an art and I was an ardent student." - "The Artistic Gifts of Women Bloggers", New Communications Review, July 22, 2005, Evelyn Rodriguez
I only have time for one anecdote: A friend shares that his Stanford semester abroad program was at a lush villa outside Florence. Back home, his Palo Alto dormitory was called Casa Italiana and everyone spoke Italian in the hallways and their Italian chef was the envy of the campus. Tom recounts, "In Italy, I'd walk into stores with my sister-in-law [Italian] and she nods, 'Bella' when just the right shirt or tie is brought out. Whereas here, I'm greeted with clerks asking what color I need or if it the jacket is for an interview. I know bella when I see it, feel it. It's not a matter of function."
In Italy that April 2003 it felt ludicrous to be squirrelled away after hours in my client's offices flinging out blog posts when the streets and smells of Italy beckoned.
Back in Silicon Valley, I never picked my original blog back up because I realized it was missing an essential vital ingredient: passione. I was too self-conscious. Or, in other words, I was contained.
"For many Italians, passion is an emotion we simply can’t contain. If it is there, it must come out." - Simona
The other day I wrote in my journal: The secret to life -- Don't resist it. I believe it's not physically going to Italy that calls us so much as psychicly going to Italy. It's living the vita Italiana that's highly contagious.
Contagious? I should say seductive. "Go to Piacere Mio. It's a very seductive kind of store," Sara, my calligraphy instructor says. Yummy, I can't wait to go:
Owner Nancy [Verdtzabella] is enthralled with Italian culture. "I love the beauty and care they put into everything," she said of the Italian merchants. - "New downtown stationery store offers paper imported from Italy", Los Altos Town Crier, December 17, 2003
Murano glass pens, luxuriant Italian paper, a flamboyant love of writing personal handmade letters and notecards rather than e-mail, and they visit, know and like the suppliers they carry -- what more can one ask for in a store? (Btw, I'm making my own business cards by hand now. Each it's own piece of art. That's another story.)
Yesterday, via Jeff Nolan's blog, I stumble onto a new VC blog from Tom Cole at Trinity Ventures that was love at first sight too. The first post I saw front and center on the new Consuming Ambitions blog was about chocolate. Déjà vu.
Called Consuming Ambitions, it might just as well be called Consuming Passions (uh, but that site is already claimed by a porn site). Any VC that blogs about the top 5 ways to enjoy heirloom tomatoes rather than the top 5 tips on negotiating your term sheet is on my ever-shrinking list of blogs to read.
"I'd never guess that Amy would gravitate to gardening," says Jerry, a former Hollywood film executive and now a marketing consultant. A lifelong urbanite, Amy [Giaquinta] had been involved in media too, working in television production about ten years ago." Now, their two-acre Napa Valley estate is home to organic heirloom tomatoes with "names like Moonglow and Aunt Ruby's German Green...Today she has an informal business, supplying seedlings and tomatoes to friends and local chefs with kitchen gardens." - "Tomatoes: A Love Story", Food & Wine, August 2006 (I noticed this eco-epicurean issue of Food & Wine laying at IDEO's offices the other day.)
The Italian mindset flourishes in the angel community too. Via Tom Cole's blog, I revisit the Angel Forums site. In addition to the usual suspects, I note the Angel Forums portfolio is onto this post-industrial boutique artisan trend:
- A very avante garde restaurant experience (restaurant, art-gallery, stage and club) named the supperclub ("Supperclub is founded by artists and therefore art will run through the veins of the club forever.")
- The yummy Charles Chocolates (hat tip from Charles Chocolates: invite blogger connoisseurs to your press tastings and tours,
merci beaucoupoops, grazie.) The founder was an art major, btw. ("Everything is made by hand in very small batches using traditional techniques, and all of the chocolates are shipped to our customers within three days of being created.")
- Speciality's Cafe and Bakery ("You will always see ovens, mixing machines, dough, flour, grain, and many other odds and ends a real bakery needs and uses...healthy, wholesome products from scratch")
- Tea Living (children's apparel, global aesthetics with tagline "the world is a big place, especially through the eyes of a child". Plus: "We envision with a sense of art, approaching the process of our work organically—moved by the distinctive beauty of a global source towards the creation of an inspired, original interpretation.")
p.p.s. Have you evere noticed that Panera Bread's warm colors - mustards, olives, plums - and its ambiance seem Tuscan-inspired too?