We arrived in Fabriano at dusk. Initially, I was disappointed that we did not have ample daylight hours remaining to drive into the city and at least scope out where the Paper and Watermark Museum was located.
All of those anxious feelings melted away when we arrived at the Marchese del Grillo Hotel. Our accommodations were exquisite, our meal delectable, and after being on the road for the better part of a week, my husband and I found it very easy to relax and soak up the surroundings without being eager to move on to the next adventure - even if it was to see where Fabriano paper originated.
There is a back story to tell: My dear friend and fellow CZT, Dorian Eng and her husband traveled to Italy just a few weeks before us. We met for lunch upon her return and she gave me some priceless advice. She said to take little gifts for hosts and tour guides as thank yous along our journey.
Dorian had tangled tiles and little zendala folded boxes and gifted them.
(Dorian's website is Little Bit of Heart and on it you will find a How-to video she made in conjunction with Sakura. )
While I did not have time before we left for our trip to make them, I tucked a zendala tin and supplies into my carry-on bag.
Fast forward to Fabriano, Italy. When we walked into the lobby of the Marchese del Grillo and that fabulous display of folded Fabriano paper greeted us, I knew what I had to tangle to leave as a thank you.
In the crisp early hours of the next morning, as I waited for Lou to be ready to go to breakfast, I opened the side window in our room and parted the thick green, wooden shutters. In plain view was the valley that cradled the city and the mountains beyond, all enveloped by the most brilliant of blue skies.
The window was wrapped in a thick width of walnut hued wood with a desk sized window sill, and a little step up to it - providing a perfect place to tangle.
I began a little zendala box there...
Not wanting to rush, I tucked the tiles into my bag and we headed to breakfast. The atmosphere in the wine cellar was much more conducive to conversation than tangling, and so my zendalas sat patiently beside me and waited.
As we walked up through the lobby to the second floor, just above the staircase, an elegant room greeting us.
We explored every detail of that hall, the Trompe l'oeil painting, fine furniture and wood trimmings, gilding, Murano chandeliers and sconces, and just the right lighting from a long wall of windows...a glorious place to tangle. I pulled up a chair and Lou snapped photos as I slipped into the sweetest time of tangling.
Where was I? Could I really be tangling in a villa on a hillside in Fabriano, Italy? No reasonable thinking on my part could answer affirmatively. Only in my dreams could it be true, and so I must have been dreaming...
Never mind that the Fabriano factory awaited, never mind that we were driving to Rome later in the day, it was a luxuriously relaxing, totally 'zen' time.
This is one of Lou's favorite photographs, and very creative too, I might add...
After signing my name to the tiles, we slipped into our room, packed, and headed to the reception area to check out. Showering many compliments to the clerk about our stay, I asked if there was a manager I could speak to. She said that she would call for him.
We had a happy reunion when he came to greet us. To our surprise, Mario D'Alesio, was also one of our waiters from the previous evening's feast. We explained that we had traveled from Florida to visit the Fabriano factory. He was very familiar, but said that he had lived in the town all his life and had never been through the factory. He explained that tours of the factory are not offered, in large part because the paper for the Euro is printed there and security is understandably tight.
"When you come again, perhaps I can arrange something, but it would be doubtful." he said.
Suddenly it all made sense why my research from home into a factory tour came up empty every time. A contributor to "It's a String Thing", Hilary, who winters in Rome, even offered to have her husband call on my behalf and his inquiry was denied.
That aside, the conversation with Mario was joyful. I explained that I was an artist of the Zentangle Method and that the our work is done on Fabriano paper. He was genuinely interested.
He explained that the Museum was a working paper factory and that we would be most pleased to go there. I felt more encouraged about our chances of experiencing what I hoped for in Fabriano.
When I presented him with my little gift, he was so grateful that it made me teary eyed. He paused for a moment, gazed intently at the box in his hands, and when he looked up, smiled and said, "You make us feel too important."
It may as well have been his birthday - and mine too, because he signaled to his receptionist and in Italian asked her to find something for him. She rummaged through a wooden bench just to the left of where we were standing and produced a small green journal.
Mario presented it to me and said "Fabriano makes these for us to give to our special guests, and I'd like you to have this,"
The journal was made of hand pressed paper with a relief of the villa and the words: Locanda Marchese del Grillo, Fabriano
By this time, I was laughing and crying and feeling so at home. It was one of those moments that instantly melted into my heart and I knew that I would be able to bring it to mind in all of its detail and emotion, no matter how much time passed. It was magical.
We asked to take a photo and Mario said that we should get one with his mother, too. Giddy, we followed him down to the kitchen. His mother, Emanuela, happened to be cooking in preparation for a large party later in the day. Mario explained that his sister is also a chef, but was at home that morning. We exchanged warm hugs, laughs, and stories.
There were so many coincidences...Mario's father worked in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in tougher times in order to send money home to keep the family business thriving. Both Lou and my own grandfathers, fathers, uncles, cousins, and even Lou himself worked in the Pittsburgh mills. Lou's grandfather immigrated to the United States from Italy to work in the same mills.
I wore a necklace made by Su D'Alessio (Delicately Detailed Pottery) and we marveled at the similarity in their names.
We posed for this picture, Mario held my zendala creation, and I held the journal he gave me while his mother and I joked about holding our chins up for a more flattering photo ~
Here we were, living worlds apart, yet connected by so many things, most of which were love, gratitude, and appreciation.
|All wrapped up in my Zentangle® scarf and|
ready to visit the Fabriano Paper and Watermark Museum
|Arrevaderci, Marche del Grillo!|
To be continued...