Festa della Primavera

Julie Jurden
Spring and the beginning of summer bring the most stunning flower festivals in Italy. Festa della Primavera is a spring festival that signifies Italia is in full bloom!

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The Summer Whimsy of an Open Air Opera

Julie Jurden

Summertime brings a myriad of activities that draw us out of our winter cocoons and welcome us into the vastness of fresh air, lush nature, and endless open skies. If you’re lucky, you get to do more than hustle the kids around to their summer activities, or worse, be chained to the office desk all day. Hopefully, there are swimming pools, barbecues, campfires with marshmallows, time in the garden, and maybe a few lovely afternoons swaying in a hammock with a tall glass of lemonade. 

Ah, summer.

Photo Credit: LuigiConsiglio

One of our favorite summer pastimes is getting outside for some of the great outdoor musical performances that come with the season. Yes, there are music festivals and numerous concerts just about everywhere you go, but Italy has some of the finest venues and programs for indulging in the experience of an open-air opera.

As you might expect, opera was actually born in Italy—it has its roots specifically in Florence in the early 1600s. And it also touts some of the greatest composers in the world, including Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini. Even great composers from other countries wanted their theatrics performed on the stages of Italy.

But the special thing about listening to opera in an outdoor theater is that not only do you get to see and hear some of the greatest performances and stories ever told, but you also gain the benefit of the beautifully lit night sky for added ambiance. And the energy and festive atmosphere are completely different than what you might experience inside a more confined opera house. It’s often much more casual and conducive to social interaction versus the quiet and restrictive formality of an indoor opera house.

Across Italy are a number of summer opera programs carefully orchestrated and visually mastered ready for the barrage of tourists to fully enjoy. And usually the venue adds to the specialness of the evening. 

For instance, the Opera Festival at the Arena di Verona, the oldest opera festival in the world. For more than a hundred years now, this Roman amphitheater is transformed from June to September into the world’s largest open-air opera theatre. The stunning ancient structure can host up to 15,000 guests, which is perfect for the summer festival which typically showcases approximately five works and 45 total performances.

In Rome, the Teatro dell’Opera performs part of their summer season in the Opera di Roma Festival at the Terme di Caracalla, a most magical archeological site of the Roman Baths and the most unique spot for a theatrical stage. With 8,000 seats, you can expect to choose from three theatrical works in this striking setting.

At the Festival Puccini held in Tuscany’s Torre del Lago, where the composer lived, composed most of his operas, and is buried nearby, you can enjoy between 4 and 5 performances of four operatic works along with the more than 40,000 spectators the festival attracts each year.

 There are so many great operas and venues, far too many to mention. But luckily for all of us, there are options here in the U.S. that often host opera indoors and out. One of the great outdoor features for many locations, like Ravinia or Millennium Park in Chicago, or Central Park in New York, is that you can watch performances while picnicking on the sprawling lawns. 

 And that offers us another opportunity to pack some of our favorite Italian dinnerware pieces along with a great bottle of wine.

Our Mediterraneo collection is a perfect option for serving up beautiful summer fruits or a refreshing tomato salad as you take in Verdi’s La Traviata. Or serve up a crumbly, nutty cheese and a crusty baguette from your Legna olive wood board while you sit back and listen to Puccini’s La bohème.

No matter what your choice of musical genre, take full advantage of these final weeks of summer before the season slips away. Seek out a festival or concert of any size. Grab your best friend or the family and pack a delicious meal. Stretch your arms and legs across your picnic blanket and sip that luscious pinot noir or crisp rosé. Enjoy the moment and listen with your whimsical summer heart.

“Opera is one of the most important art forms. It should be listened to and appreciated by everyone.” --Luciano Pavarotti

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Summer Escapes: Italian Beaches and the Deep Blue Sea

Julie Jurden

italian beachSummer is here, and the climbing temperatures have us obsessed with thoughts of lazy, sun-soaked beach days and crystal blue water for miles. Whether you’re lucky enough to live near an oceanfront destination, a lakeside retreat, or maybe a sparkling swimming pool, the draw of lounging by the water with a great book and a refreshing cocktail is a luxury in and of itself.

If you love the beach, Italy has some of the most exquisite of oceanside oases in the world. From the more popular locations such as the Amalfi Coast, the Island of Capri, and the entire Cinque Terre, to the less traveled, more secluded spots like Calabria, Gargano, and the Argentario Peninsula—Italy is surrounded by seaside magnificence. With the Mediterranean as it’s canvas, the beaches and seaside communities become treasured masterpieces for Italian visitors to explore.

While we celebrated our Independence Day here in the U.S., we immediately pulled out the wide variety of Italian dinnerware Modigliani has that evoke the wistfulness of long summer days and mounds of freshly caught seafood. Just browsing these fun collections and imagining the many meals we could serve gets us excited for alfresco dining and beach worthy picnics.

One of our favorites is the Panarea collection. Named for the smallest yet prettiest of the Aeolian Islands just off the coast of Sicily, Panarea is a chic little spot that attracts the wealthy and famous, yet it’s still an affordable option for the rest of us.

The backdrop of this idyllic location are whitewashed adobe cottages draped in bursting bougainvillea flowers against the deepest blue of the sea. A respite for relaxation and quiet, this peaceful island offers romantic views, majestic rocks and cliffs jutting from the sea, and boasts one of the few sandy beaches in the Aeolian Islands to embrace it all.

It’s namesake collection brings a touch of relaxed whimsy and fun to the table with its coral colored sea creatures in playful display. Filling one of the larger bowls with mounds of freshly caught crab or a luscious lobster salad would be a great summer treat for friends and family and would get anyone into summer mode.

If your table needs more color and a hint of nautical inspiration, our Porto Venere collection might be more your speed.  

Portovenere is a sweet little village that sits between Cinque Terre and the Gulf of the Poets. Despite this seafront location, it isn’t considered a beach resort like other towns in Liguria. But it does offer a few lovely beaches and bays where you can sunbathe on land or on a boat.

This handmade ceramic dinnerware reflects the vibrant colors of this lovely coastal village and gives a nautical nod to the quaint harbor in the center of it all. We can almost taste the sea as we imagine a fresh grilled fish, or some briny oysters presented on a piece from this happy collection.

We hope all of you in our Modigliani community can enjoy a few good days and nights at your favorite waterfront destination. Don’t let the season whisk by. Grab your shades and head to your favorite beach before the summer months are but a distant memory. And don’t forget to pack a picnic!


iStock Credit: Cristinatrif - photo of Amalfi Coast



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The Italian Holiday: Dolce far niente!

Julie Jurden

A guest post by Tara Jantzen


This month is more than half over and many of us in the U.S. are thinking about back-to-school and the end of our summer vacations. While we’re exhausted from shuttling the kids around to every summer activity or outing, and now dreading the inevitable workweek, most Italians have closed up shop and are still at the beach or in the mountains for the entire month of August. They are ready for dolce far niente, or, the sweetness of doing nothing.

On August 15, Italians celebrated Ferragosto, a public holiday coinciding with the religious celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s marked across the country with fireworks displays and processions of locals carrying statues of Mary. It’s also a period of relaxation and completely disconnecting from work life. It means spending time with family and friends, soaking up sunshine, enjoying great food and wine, and doing pretty much anything other than work.

This is what they call ferie, or holiday.

Italians have a very different perspective on work and holidays than we seem to have in the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, we usually intend on being completely offline and fully engaged in the leisurely life. But inevitably, we grab for the smartphone or open up the laptop. The Italians are different—they have this holiday thing down to an art form.

First, you’ll likely hear most Europeans say they’re “going on holiday,” whereas Americans are “on vacation.”  The word vacation originated in the U.S. with the affluent as they ‘vacated’ their estate homes for other extravagant locations—a term that never quite caught on in other countries.

Secondly, in Italy work fits around social and family life, not vice versa. They experience everything quite fully, including their work, but they separate the two much more easily and happily than Americans. You’ll never hear of Italians forgoing vacation days like we heroically do in the west. They relish in their personal time and don’t take it for granted even for a second. They live in the moment, and they live passionately.

And you certainly won’t hear of them spending their holidays attending cooking classes or volunteering for a social cause. They take rest and relaxation quite seriously, and they almost always do it with their extended families in tow.

Spending time with the family, la famiglia, is extremely important to the Italian culture, and it goes well beyond the nucleus members of parents and children. Italian families are consistently inclusive of the entire extended network—grandparents, cousins, in-laws, grandkids, you name it. The children often continue living with their parents well into their twenties and even thirties, until they themselves are married.  But they are raised to remain close into adulthood, integrating their future families into the larger group, and so on. They take great care of each other and thoroughly enjoy spending time together. It is the Italian way.

Italians aren’t big on planning every moment of their holiday in advance like the rest of us. They tend to rise late and mull the day’s plan over an espresso. Always accommodating these social creatures, they stay as a group and plan accordingly. 

And they often plan around the simple pleasures of food and wine. You’ll often find large families gathered on the beaches dining in the local cafes or picnicking together in the mountains—just as they would at their home tables—replicating the large meals carefully and lovingly prepared in mother’s kitchen.

Not veering from tradition in any way, they break for a lengthy lunch around 1-2:30 pm, and an even longer dinnertime anywhere between 7:30 and 10 pm. These extended meals are not just to feed the body, but more importantly, they are social rituals—rituals where they also view alcohol as an important accompaniment to meals rather than inebriation and vacation escape.

If you are lucky enough to holiday in Italy and you happen upon one of these carefree clans, you can’t help but be struck by the pure ease with which they live, laugh, and love together. It’s hard not to be just a bit envious of them. They embrace life and never resist. They lift it up and live within it. It is the epitome of la grande vita!



Tara Jantzen is a freelance writer living in Southern California. Throughout her extensive career she has traveled all over the world, but considers Italy her favorite destination. She’s spent many trips learning first-hand about food, cooking, olive oil, wine, and the spirit of the Italian lifestyle. She has also completed the WSET Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits and hopes to continue her wine education with Level 3 in the near future.

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Introducing Amalfi

Julie Jurden

Lemon groves nestled in terraced hills with a bright contrast between the green leaves and blue sea, the strong scent of lemon blossoms or "zagare", and views that are breathtaking all create the atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. The environment produces unique lemons "sfusato amalfitano" which have a distinct shape, color and flavor, and is the inspiration for our latest collection, Amalfi.

This collection highlights the lemons grown in the terraces groves on the Amalfi coast. The bright pop of yellow lemons in this design is accentuated by a flowing blue detail on a creamy white background. This handcrafted collection features serving and accent pieces that you’ll love using at casual family dinners and entertaining affairs. Pair this bright collection with our Condotti blue serving pieces and Tivoli marine blue tumblers. Limoncello anyone?

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A Message from Italy From time to time, Stefano, the Owner of...

Julie Jurden

A Message from Italy

From time to time, Stefano, the Owner of Modigliani Italia, will provide us news from Italy.


Summer… this is a magic word here in Italy. It means sun, seaside, vacations… and everybody is taking their vacation during August.

Therefore July is with no doubt the hardest working month of the year - but also the most thrilling for me and my staff here in Italy. Before the end of the month we must be ready with all our exciting projects for the fall and have ended all the works for the summer. During July we run and run to finish everything in time. We want to be sure that all the seeds that we planted during these months produce the fruits that we wish.

And so… at the end, here we are! Ready for our vacations and very, very happy with our new lines designed for Autumn 2014.





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Summer Serving Creating beautiful ceramics isn’t the only...

Julie Jurden

Summer Serving

Creating beautiful ceramics isn’t the only tradition in the family of the owners of Modigliani. This wonderful summer tabbouleh was created by Silvia, a member of the third generation, in our Sogno Toscano pattern decorated only with the earth and sky. Check out her website at www.cookingforthesoul.com for more wonderful recipes and stay tuned for more of our favorites.

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