Milestones

Julie Jurden
At Modigliani, we have begun a new collection called Milestones to bring meaningful traditions to our customers that they can share with family and friends. Our first milestone celebrates the new home.

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A Season for Giving. Rett Syndrome and the Angel Plate

Julie Jurden

As October arrives, most of us begin thinking about the fast approaching holidays. It’s the time of year when we look forward to sharing our precious time with family and friends, and enjoying the traditions and festivities of the season.

Additionally, it’s a time of year where many of us want to extend our generosity beyond traditional gifts through the giving of our time and money to those causes that have special meaning to us, for whatever reasons.

For us, October carries a great importance because it’s Rett syndrome awareness month.

What’s the significance to us? Because, it was just 18 years ago when our family first met a wonderful young lady named Bea. Ever since that introduction, she’s been a blessing in our lives along with her parents, grandparents, and sister.

If you’re not familiar with Rett syndrome, it’s a rare non-inherited genetic postnatal neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and begins to show its effects in infancy or early childhood. It can often be misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy, because it causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor, and autonomic function. These can then impact learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.

As one can imagine, Rett syndrome can present numerous challenges to those living with the disease, as well as those caring for them. But with therapy, assistance, and endless amounts of unconditional love, every single one of them can benefit greatly by participating in typical life activities like school, social, educational, and recreational programs. Even our Bea was able to attend her first prom like any other young girl her age.

Years ago we made the decision to do something to not only help raise awareness about Rett syndrome, but to raise funds for the incredible research underway.

Hence the Angel Plate was born.

In 2014, we started by producing one each year with the idea to create a set of four that could be displayed together on a wall or shelf, or used during special occasions. We explained the significance to our artists and partners in Italy, and they have been honored to design and produce Piastra Angelo with great care. 

2017 marked the final year for the Angel Plate Collection. These plates are a one-of-a-kind gift, limited in number and signed by the artist. 100% of the profits go to Rett syndrome research. You can order a single plate or collect all four as we still have a few from the previous years available. In addition we will continue each year to give 10% of all of our sales  for a week in October to benefit Rett Syndrome research for years to come.

While we know our contribution is a very small one, we like to think that we’ve been a part of helping further research, and ultimately finding a cure for Rett syndrome.

The amazing news is that researchers have been making wonderful strides over the past several years. Their research strategy has yielded unprecedented results.

If you’d like to learn more, visit www.rettsyndrome.org for ways you can support this important cause.

We are incredibly grateful to all of you for your continued support. Thank you on behalf of all of us, and most importantly, our lovely Bea and her family.

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Portichetto Blu: Design Inspiration from Architectural Continuity

Julie Jurden

The artisans of Modigliani have repeatedly been inspired by the tremendous architecture of Italy which has translated into the ceramic dinnerware and accessories they create. We are thrilled with their latest inspiration taken directly from the portichetto of Italy in their newest collection, Portichetto Blu.

In Italy, a portichetto is a long open yet covered walkway that connects to a building—where one side is attached to the building exterior itself, and the other side faces the open air revealing the view. In English, we refer to this architectural element as cloisters or arcades.  

Besides being a respite from disagreeable weather, portichetto are typically designed with repeating arches and columns, often integrating ornate patterns and embellishments that bring symmetry to the flow and frame the vista with artistic composition. The intention is to welcome you in, keep you close, and engage you with community.

Across Italy, you typically see these cloisters attached to churches, monasteries, museums, and as part of other public structures or venues. 

Some famous and recognizable examples include the very large Piazza San Marco in Venice. This mecca of tourism is surrounded by long stretches of portichetto providing protection to the thousands of shoppers and diners that walk its halls daily. The perfectly lined archways on the adjacent Doge Palace point skyward to a second story of walkways, making it a stunning example of how practicality and innovative design marry into enduring architectural form. The gentle patterns and scallops in our Portichetto Blu Oval Platter brilliantly mirror the harmony of the ceilings and flooring of the Doge portichetto, with repetitive soft arches and spiraled curvature. 

The repetition in the narrow cutouts and pattern of the Portichetto Blu Round Serving Bowl, Oval Bowl, Dinner Plate, and Mug offer a sharp parallelism to the progression and pointed arches of the Cathedral Monreale overlooking Palermo, Sicily. The clean lines pair magically with the subtle curves, just as our newest collection has achieved.

In Florence there are massive portichetto surrounding the long narrow courtyard which connects the two wings of the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most visited galleries in the world. Visitors line the walkways for a chance to walk the venues largest collection of Renaissance art and to stand where it has been said that the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo once gathered for recreation, conversation, and for work. 

 We love this idea that these stunning structures were then, and still are, the center for coming together in community, collaboration, and discussion. And that’s exactly how we see our new collection. We hope that the inspiration of the many portichetto all across Italy elicits the same spirit of connection, conversation, community, and the sharing of new ideas and great food.

We’d love to hear what you think about our latest addition to the Modigliani family. Can you picture your table filled with these distinct pieces—vessels for your famous antipasti platter or a mound of cacio e pepe pasta and a hunk of warm and crusty bread? 

Check out the full collection here and get your family and friends to the table for some memorable connection time.

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Chicken Skewers

Julie Jurden
This delicious marinade work perfectly on chicken and makes delightful chicken skewers.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • the zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • the zest and juice from 1 orange
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

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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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Summertime Popsicles

Julie Jurden
Summertime may be winding down, but the hot weather still calls for cool beverage and treats. Here is our favorite popsicle recipe that is so simple, yet so delizioso!
  • Thinly slice a couple of lemons and limes.
  • Place 4-5 citrus slices and a few fresh mint leaves in each popsicle mould.
  • Fill with lemonade.
  • Freeze.
  • When ready to serve, place popsicle in a glass and top with your favourite bubbly.

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Simple Pasta with On The Vine Roasted Tomatoes

Julie Jurden

We believe pasta is a delightful dish, even in the heat of summer. Our team threw together this beautifully simple main dish that is sure to please every palate. 

INGREDIENTS
  • Several tomatoes still on the vine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt & coarse ground pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces angel hair spaghetti
  • ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread them out on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the spaghetti.
  3. Put the pot back on the burner over medium high heat. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and the seasoned bread crumbs. Cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, lemon juice, and other seasonings and cook for another minute. Put the pasta back in the pot and toss to coat. Add the pasta water just a tiny bit at a time to keep things moving. You won't need the whole cup.
  4. Add the roasted tomatoes and sprinkle with a little more seasoning to serve.

To make this dish extra special, serve on our Porto Venere Fish Dinner Plate. This entire collection brings a whimsical flair to any meal.

Recipe slightly adapted from Sugar Dish Me.

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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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Love, Life, and Luck - It's Wedding Season

Julie Jurden

Photo of italian wedding with bride and groomIt’s June and that means wedding season is in high gear. For many of us, save-the-dates and wedding invitations have made their way to our mailboxes. The cadence of shopping, planning, traveling, toasting, celebrating, dancing, and drinking has just begun. While our heads spin with those inevitable years when everyone seems to be getting hitched around the same time, making it difficult to simply enjoy a celebration, it is fun to witness familiar traditions, sometimes reinvented for modern brides.

We talk a lot about traditions here at Modigliani because they mean so much to Italians. For Americans, traditions more often come from something started in our own families, whereas Italian traditions are steeped in religion, history, culture, and even superstition. And many incorporate symbolic meanings. Weddings are a great example where superstition and symbolism are significant in Italian traditions. While today’s modern Italian bride may not carry over many of these traditions, there are some that remain.

Grooms used to be the ones that selected and paid for the bridal bouquet as a final gift for his beloved and would often present it to her at the church. Today the bride likely selects the bouquet, but they may still continue with the tradition of the groom presenting it to her as a gesture of love.

Small but meaningful actions to bring luck and abundance to the couple were prominent in the past. Brides used to wear something green the night before the wedding for good luck and grooms were known to carry a piece of iron in their pockets to ward off evil spirits. The bride would never wear anything gold on her wedding day, other than her wedding ring, as that too would bring bad luck.

While in the U.S. we say it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding, in parts of Italy it was seen as bad luck for the bride to see her own reflection in the mirror. If she really wanted to see herself in her gown, she would have to remove a shoe or glove before gazing in her mirror. And in some cases, a bride would even rip her veil for good luck.

Speaking of shoe removal, the tradition of the groom removing the brides garter is also a tradition in Italy. However, if the bride did not wear a garter, one of her shoes would be removed and tossed to the crowd for luck instead.

Another tradition that has mostly gone the wayside is the cutting up of the groom’s tie. Once destroyed, the pieces would then be passed to guests in exchange for money.

And one tradition that has been mostly upheld is the carrying of la borsa, or satin bag, by the bride during the reception. The purpose is for guests to place envelopes of money into the bag to help pay for the wedding and the couple’s new life together.

 

italian wedding favors that looks like leavesThe giving of bomboniera is also something that continues. These are small pouches or boxes of candy coated Jordan almonds meant to symbolize the bittersweetness of marriage. Each pouch must contain an odd number, usually 5 or 7, which are considered lucky numbers.

During the reception, there is a dance called La Tarantella, or the tarantula, which again, is how guests wish the couple good luck. Participants stand in a circle surrounding the couple while holding hands and moving in a clockwise direction. As the music plays, it eventually kicks up tempo which signals reversing the direction and repeating until everyone collapses together at the end – very popular even today.

There are a number of other traditions that Italians across various regions have upheld over the years or have modernized for today’s world, but the importance of celebration and bringing luck and love to the couple continues in a myriad of ways.

One thing that never changes is marking the occasion by showering gifts on the happy couple. If you’re a bride-to-be or buying for one, Modigliani offers a gift registry for unique items anyone would love. Starting a new life together with beautiful, handmade Italian dinnerware is perfect. Preparing meals and hosting dinners for family and friends is something many look forward to as a new couple. Let us help make that experience even greater with the art and artistry of our distinctive ceramic dishware, flatware, and one of a kind pieces.

And to all the soon to be and recent newlyweds, buona fortuna e auguri (good luck and best wishes)!

Register with our Gift Registry today!

 

Photo credits:
Bride and Groom:  iStock Photo Credit: Hreni
Wedding Favors:  
iStock Photo Credit: budrio

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Carpets of Blooms, It’s Infiorata!

Julie Jurden

Spring turns to summer and blooms and buds are bursting with life and growth. No matter where you live, flowers are making their grand entrance and the air is filled with a lovely fragrance. From daffodils to hydrangeas, and roses to peonies, the season is flush with color. It’s time to celebrate the flower.

carpet of flowers in ItalyItalians welcome the beauty of the season with a brilliant and artistic flower festival called Infiorata. Introduced by Catholics in the late 1700s to mark the Sunday of Corpus Domini, this feast for the senses is celebrated throughout Italy. 

Infiorata means “decorated with flowers,” and Italians do just that. Stretching more than a mile in many cities and consisting of hundreds of thousands of blooms and seeds, locals put their artistic skills to great use as they create incredible flower panels that carpet the streets. A competitive tradition, these patient artisans spend months producing the designs and then sketch them on the ground with chalks, coffee grounds, and soil. Then comes the meticulous effort of filling in these mosaic masterpieces with mounds of flower petals and greenery.

Designs are typically themed, and the creative result is brilliant. Teams consisting of anyone from students and coworkers, to families and friends, everyone gets in on the fun. Gathering the day before and working feverishly through the night, often shrouded in tents for secrecy, they are removed by Sunday morning for the visual reveal.

Once complete, tourists and locals along with official judges gather to walk the long stretch and view the lush petal-filled streets taking in the artistry and aromas. End-to-end, the vista of a thick petaled floor is fantastic. The blanketed streets can be seen for what feels like miles and the perfumed air transports you to a lush meadow.

Later in the morning, and after all that hard work, the official religious procession departs from the town church walking through the flower panels. A long-held tradition, the children race through leaving petals scattered and skewed to the winds before the final cleanup.

And sadly, that’s the end to a fantastic, albeit short-lived, annual custom.

We love the thought of filling our own surroundings with loads of fresh flowers, but we’d rather keep them around for just a few more days.

If you feel the same as we do, why not peruse our handmade Italian vases and bring a bit of Infiorata Spring living into your home. No need for back-breaking work here, just insert your lovely stems into one of our many colorful handmade vases or exquisitely hand-crafted pitchers. Both are perfect for a brilliant floral display. Mix and match with our other ceramic dinnerware, open the windows and doors, and welcome the warmth and freshness of this glorious season.

 Infiorata Photo Credit: alessandro0770

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