Bringing Home A Bit of Tuscany To My Kitchen

Welcome to the 353rd Metamorphosis Monday!

Almost every day sees some kind of metamorphosis in our homes right now with the holidays here. I absolutely love this time of year! Halloween has always been one of most favorite holidays because it’s filled with so many smiles and so much laughter. I hope your Halloween was a lot of fun this year.

I have a small Before and After to share in my kitchen. It’s a little change waaaay over there by the stove. Just to the left of the stove on that small section of granite countertop stands a little Chef piggy.

Kitchen

 

He normally stands alone or with a small, marble mortar and pestle beside him.

Olive Wood Spoons in Hand-painted Pitcher from Italy

 

One of the most memorable things I did on my trip to Italy was to visit the home of Frances Mayes in Cortona. She’s the author of the book that later became the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun.

Frances Mayes Tuscan Home, Bramasole, in Cortona

Just a wee bit excited about finding Bramasole! 🙂

 

After a quick visit to Frances Mayes’s home, we headed down to the village of Cortona to shop and see as much of this hill town as we could in the very brief amount of time we had there. See that alley between the two buildings below? We dined in an excellent restaurant down in the alley called La Grotta. I very much recommend it if you ever visit this area.

Notice the shop off to the far left, the one lit up and showcasing pretty dishware.

Cortona, Italy_wm

 

That window was a flame and I was a moth!

Cortona Italy_wm

 

I mean, could you resist this?!

Shopping in Cortona_wm

 

I really wanted to remember this visit to Cortona, so after shopping around a bit and having a hard time making up my mind, I finally purchased a small pitcher and a pretty olive oil dispenser. The shop-owner promised me that everything in her shop was really made here in Italy. They must get asked that a lot because in some of the shops I visited, the shop keepers shared that bit of information before I even asked.

The hallmark on the bottom of the pitcher says “COLTI BUONO, CasAntonio, Hand-Painted Cortona-Italia.” Being the suspicious person that I am, I wonder if the pitchers are mass-produced someplace else, then just hand painted in Cortona. I saw the same painting/pattern on dishware in other towns we visited in Italy, so that does makes me wonder. Hopefully they are at least all made here in Italy, if not in Cortona, and then shipped to Cortona where someone paints and fires them. Maybe it’s best I don’t know! Ignorance is sometimes bliss, ya know?

I brought the pitcher back (wrapped in tons of bubble wrap) inside my rolling, carry-on bag. Once home, I decided to fill it with spoons and spatulas made of olive wood. I had read that olive wood is super durable and has a beautiful graining. That just seemed appropriate after seeing so many rolling hills of Olive trees during my stay in Italy.

Olive Wood Spoons Handcrafted in Israel

 

I was surprised when I shopped for olive wood spatulas/spoons online, the prices are pretty steep. After tons of googling, I came across a set on Amazon that was hand-made in Israel, yet reasonably priced. It includes 5 pieces for about what one piece costs in a lot of stores online.

I purchased this set here: Handcrafted Olive Wood Set . I’m very pleased with these and love the long 12″ handles. The wood is truly beautiful! The info that came with them says that they are made from pruning very old Olive trees that are no longer producing olives. Since they are handcrafted, they are not perfect. A hole might be slightly off-center in a handle, etc… but I think that just adds to the beauty.

 

Olive Wood Spoons and Spatulas

I filled the Cortona pitcher with the beautifully grained olive-wood cooking utensils, then added in a few other fun pieces for some seasonal color.

Olive Wood Spoons Handcrafted in Israel

 

I already had the yellow spatula. This past weekend I purchased a fall-orange spatula, a cute turkey spatual and a pumpkin spatula from my local Williams-Sonoma. I love how they look mixed in for autumn. (Turkey Spatula and Pumpkin Spatulas can be found here: Turkey Spatula and Pumpkin Spatula) Does this mean I actually have to cook now? 😉

Hand-Crafted Olive Wood Spatulas & Spoons

 

Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!

Metamorphosis MondayMet Monday

 

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Comments

  1. Love your pitcher Susan! All that gorgeous pottery eye candy in the window would make me want a larger suitcase!

    • Dawn Marie Anderson says:

      Susan!
      You look so cute standing there! Really happy girl! Thanks for sharing, the Italian Pottery is awesome. So are the views of the shops.

    • Really! Maybe I should have purchased one while there and filled it up! 🙂 But then I’d to find space everything once I got home. Yikes!

  2. Susan, that is one of my favorite movie and those dishes in the window are gorgeous. My first dish set when I got married, was Caleca…hand painted, heavy, Italian pottery. I love it. Thanks for sharing and for the party!

  3. Thanks for hosting Susan! I love the pitcher and olive wood spoons. The grain on the spoons is beautiful!

  4. The Cortona pitcher looks so pretty filled with the wooden spatulas! Compliments Mr. Pig well! 🙂 Thanks for hosting Met Monday! ~Rhonda

  5. Hi Susan! Thank you for sharing your Italian adventure with us!! I love your idea for displaying the pitcher:) Have a wonderful week and thanks for hosting this lovely party – Christine

  6. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    I’m not surprised that window full of dishware drew you in, lol. I particularly like the pattern with the countryside views.

    Those olive wood utensils are beautiful! The grain is striking. I’ve never seen olive wood before. And I’ve never seen spatulas with turkeys and pumpkins, lol. The pitcher is very pretty, I like the bucolic scene. Nice addition to the kitchen!

    • Pam, it was torture in there, trying to choose. I saw a platter I really wanted, but I had already purchased a platter in Pienza so I didn’t get it. Every town we went to, had a killer store like this. Very dangerous! lol

  7. Hi Susan – love the Cortona pitcher AND the Chef piggy !!!
    Sounds like you had the vacation of a lifetime ( actually you have 2 vacations of a lifetime – which is amazing really ! )
    Thanks so much for the party – hope you have a wonderful week xox

  8. Well, no, you don’t have to cook! You just have to look good in your kitchen, hahaha. I really like your pitcher purchase and the spatulas – how cute is that turkey (and the floral – where’d you source that one?). We have a WV artisan who is famous (a la Martha Stewart published) for his handmade wooden kitchen tools – Stan Jennings of Allegheny Treenware (https://alleghenytreenware.com/). I have several pieces – love the spaghetti fork and bear claws for salad hands. They’re made of WV hardwoods (unfortunately, olive wood is not one of them), and he signs each piece. Have a great week, and thanks for having us.
    Rita

    • Rita, I’ll have to check him out…thanks for sharing the name. Whew, I was afraid I was going to have to actually use all these new utensils! 😉

  9. I love it…moth to a flame. I would be the same way. I am a dish nut! I love your Mr. Pig. I have a similar one who has a chalk board. I apologize but one of my posts includes a product…but I read the rules after I posed it. Oops! You may delete it…Outside Projects.
    Your trip to Italy was such fun for me to follow.
    Sheila

  10. Oh I do love that pitcher! I like the warm rich colors. I don’t doubt that they contract the pitchers to be made by a factory and then have them painted, but I don’t doubt they’re made in Italy. The important thing is that you brought home something to remind you of a special time! Those spatulas and olive wood pieces are wonderful. Too pretty to use!

  11. I’m like you and would have been in that shop in a heart beat. Very pretty pitcher and your new wooden utensils look so stylish displayed that way. However, my eye went to your orange pumpkin pot(?) on the stove. LOVE that! Where did you get it? Vikki in VA.

    • That’s from Martha Stewart. I’m going to use it sometime soon, maybe today…and cook something up to share on the blog. I love the design of it!

  12. Susan, how wonderful you got to travel to Europe, wonderful pictures!!!! Christine from Little Brags

  13. Susan, thanks so much for sharing, your photos bring back happy memories of our trips to Italy. Other than photographs, when we’ve travelled to Italy, Italian pottery has been our number one souvenir.

    If you ever decide to go back to Italy and be in the Umbrian region near Asissi, you MUST go to Deruta. Deruta is an “industrial” town as opposed to a tourist town filled with antiquities.

    Deruta is filled with many, many pottery “factories” which have beautiful retail store fronts. I put the word “factory” in quotes because everything is hand-made in these factories. Deruta is the number one town for manufacturing Italian pottery.

    We have bought some exquisite pieces there, even commissioned some custom-made dishes. On our last two trips to Italy, we actually crafted our itineraries to include a shopping trip to Deruta LOL. :0)

  14. That shop looks absolutely divine. What a wonderful place to shop and then eat around the corner. Thank you for sharing and for hosting the party. Have a happy week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  15. In that display I love the dishes with the trees.

  16. Such a fun picture of you enjoying Italy! I’ve enjoyed reading and seeing your travels. Happy November to you and thanks for hosting!

    • Thanks, Cynthia! I was soooo excited! That house wasn’t part of the schedule on the tour but our guide called a cab for us and he took us up the hill to it. You can walk to it from the town center, if you have time…but we had so little time, plus it was raining AGAIN! So we took the cab. All the cab drivers know exactly where her house is since they get asked so often to take visitors to the area there. We were respectful and tried not to squeal too loudly. lol I found out later, she was in Atlanta signing books, so I guess we could have squealed we wanted over her gorgeous home.

  17. Your pitcher is beautiful, Susan. I think I might have a panic attack if I came upon that shop- so much loveliness to choose from, I can almost feel my heart speeding up just thinking about it. You made a great choice. 🙂

  18. Adding to your home a purchase that reflects your favorite memories from your trip will bring you joy each time you pass that treasure. Good Job!

  19. rattlebridge farm says:

    Susan, you look darling–I’m so glad you made it to Bramasole! The shop window would have drawn me, too. Love your new jug and wooden spoons. Have a great week!

  20. Your moth to the flame comparison perfectly describes me, too! I am immediately drawn to any glassware or dishware anywhere in the world I am. I walked right to similar stores in England when we were there several years ago. Your pitcher is perfect for your kitchen and beautiful new utensils. Now do a tablescape with those fabulous zebra goblets!! =)

  21. Susan, I LOVE your pitcher! I would have a terrible time making a selection in that store. The platters displayed in the window are gorgeous! What a wonderful keepsake from Tuscany!

  22. Thanks so much for the party Susan! Those olive serving utensils are great! Have a great week and take care, Tara

  23. Oh my gosh, be still my little potter’s heart. Mucking in clay most of my life, I appreciate all kinds of clay products. The idea of your pitcher coming from a mold produced elsewhere, is probably accurate. I use to get blank plates that were Italian made for handpainting as they were superior to those produced in the U.S.. The scenes on the pottery and perhaps the initials/number assigned to the painter may help in discerning where it was made. The handpainted ceramics of Italy have been produced since the roman times, and the colors have always been wonderful. Enjoy—it was hand-painted by someone and relfects your glorius trip! Sandi

  24. Love Italian potter and the pitcher is very pretty…Good colors. I used to sell the olive wood utensils when I owned a kitchen – gourmet store in Miami Lakes, FL, many years ago…

    The set of measuring spoons Chef Piggy is holding…is that pewter from The Tin Woodsman? I used to have a set of them and a coffee scoop! I believe his company was bought out by someone else now…

    • Sonia, I don’t think they are, but I’m not sure. I just looked and don’t see a hallmark/trademark on them. My DIL gave these to me, if I’m remembering correctly. Mr. Piggy used to hold a very plain (ugly) set of measuring spoons and these were a huge upgrade. lol The roosters and sunflowers on the spoons work great with the Tuscany pitcher. 🙂

  25. Your pitcher is so pretty, and how beautifully you’ve filled it. Love the turkey and pumpkin spatulas, and the wood spatulas are a work of art. Thanks for Met Mon.

  26. Hi Susan, your pitcher is divine and thanks so much for hosting.

    It made my little potter’s heart pitter-pat. Italian ceramics have always been gorgeous and the history goes back to Roman times. Yes, your pitcher is probably a standard blank produced elsewhere, but I actually bought plate blanks for painting when I did shows made in Italy because they were the best quality available. Far superior to American made.

    A local painter/pottery probably painted and fired it, check to see if there are initials or a numeral (painter’s ID) on the bottom also. Using the same motif and then signing it with a locale, would have been a contract between the maker and the seller, very common. Either way, it is handpainted, beautiful, a reminder of your glorius trip and looks fab in your kitchen.
    Thanks for sharing your trip and pottery, Sandi

  27. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Some how i knew when i saw that window in one of your posts to us, you would buy something from it,i know i almost sent you money for myself! lol Love what you chose.

  28. Jane Franks says:

    Hi Susan! The pitcher is just gorgeous! No, I would not have resisted that shop, either!! A unique idea to add the olive wood utensils — so much a part of Italy, too, and the colored and seasonal ones are perfect! These little touches and changes make such a difference, don’t they, and lift our spirits! Great job! And thanks for the ideas!! Jane xo

  29. Great pitcher!!

    Thanks so much for the party!!

    Hugs,
    Deb

  30. Love the Tuscan jar, Susan. Glad you had fun traveling….Christine

  31. Love the pitcher, Susan! What a wonderful souvenir from your trip! Hugs…Debbie

  32. Your photos are beautiful. I love Under The Tuscan Sun, and watch it several times a year. Thanks for the party.

  33. Love the little pitcher and it’s a perfect reminder of your visit! I, too, sometimes wonder about the origin of some of the locally crafted items. Sounds like you got an authentic Cortona piece. My neighbor who just returned from 3 weeks in Italy brought me a lovely scarf from a store in Florence because she wanted me to have an Italian scarf. I don’t think she noticed that the tag on the scarf read “Made in India”. It was the thought that counted and I’ll enjoy wearing my Indian/Italian scarf!

    • That sounds like something that happened to one of the ladies on our trip. She purchased something she thought was from Italy…forgot what it was now. Anyway, later she was asking a group of use what “Made in PRC” meant. I had never seen that marking but one of the other folks in our group had and told her it meant “Made in People’s Republic of China.” I don’t think she was too happy to hear that.

  34. Love the beautiful Italian pitcher, Susan; it’s perfect for your kitchen! 🙂 The olive wood utensils are so pretty, too. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of traveling is shopping for special items to bring home.

    Glad you had such fun in Italy and have a great week!

    Hugs,

    Denise

  35. Sounds like you had a wonderful visit in Italy. So glad that you are traveling and having terrific tours.
    Thanks for the tip on the wooden cooking spoons, etc. Would be a great Christmas gift. Love the pig too.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Mary

  36. Those olive wood utensils are beautiful, and perfect for the pitcher. Did you have any idea that spatulas came in other than white, especially seasonal motif, before you saw those? I must get out more often!!

    • lol I think I’ve seen them with Christmas motifs before but didn’t realize they had them for other seasons/holidays, too. I bought several in Target that will be really cute for Christmas. My fave was one that has a black spatula top and on one side in white lettering it says, “Nice” and on the other side it says, “Naughty.” 🙂

  37. bobbi duncan says:

    Isn’t it nice to bring back a memory of a trip…every time you see it you are reminded of a wonderful time. The shops look beautiful, as do your treasures. The wood grain on the utensils is so pretty…you can tell the quality is superb.

  38. What great treasures you brought home from your trip Susan!

  39. I love your Italian treasures, Susan! Thanks for hosting. Have a great week!

  40. Love the pitcher Susan, and the way you used it. I have to tell you that I love your white appliances too. We are renovating our kitchen and I would love to have white appliances but we already have new SS (that was here when we moved in). I know SS is popular, but I hate the upkeep and there’s just something about the white that I love. Hope you have a great week!

    • Thanks so much, Kristi! Stainless Steel appliances were already super popular when I redid my kitchen back around 2001, but I bucked the trend and went with white since that’s what I love. I didn’t realize SS appliances required a lot of maintenance. Do they show fingerprints…is that the maintenace part? Yeah, I don’t blame you, no sense in replacing them when they are so new. Maybe you can gradually replace them as they eventually wear out. Of course, now they’ll last forever just because you want to replace them. :)I do love a white kitchen. I was thinking the other day, if I ever downsize to that cottage I keep dreaming of, I would definitely go with white appliances again. I still like the look after all these years.

  41. Oh yes, Susan, I would have been running to that shop! Such a gorgeous window display, I would have struggled deciding what to pick! Your pitcher is beautiful and I love how you filled it with the olive wood utensils and seasonal scrapers. Love your measuring spoons on Chef Piggy, too!

  42. wow! looks like an amazing trip & love your mementos. will make you smile for years to come. enjoy them thanks for hosting another party & have a great week. xo- maryjo

  43. Hi, Susan, and welcome home! It sounds (well, reads…) like you had a wonderful trip! I know you will love that pitcher. It’ll always bring back great memories. I’m happy to be joining your party; thanks for hosting. ~Zuni

  44. Love your new pitcher, and all the other treasures in the window!! I can see I would have spent a lot of money in there……

    The olive wood utensils are beautiful too…… I have a couple of them and 2 olive wood cheese boards. Love the graining on them. And they were purchased a few years ago at TJMaxx, very reasonably priced.

    No, you don’t have to cook now, just enjoy your memories!! xoxo

  45. Linda Page says:

    I love bringing home “useful” items from my trips. Things that just don’t sit on a shelf but actually have a purpose so that I can enjoy using them for years and years. Your pitcher is perfect. You will forever be reminded of your marvelous trip and how much fun you had picking out that pitcher. It looks right at home in your kitchen. And, I love the wooden utensils. Good choice.

  46. Dear Susan, You needn’t worry about your dishes being authentic. It is normal to see similar patterns used for differently shaped ceramic pieces. They are hand painted. It is customary to use a special paper with holes pierced through it which follow specific pattern. The paper is then held against the object to be painted and charcoal is then pounced through the holes. It leaves a faint pattern and artists are then free to add their own interpretation to the patterns. But all will look very similar.
    After the outlines are painted they are then filled in with different underglazes (colors). When dry a clear glaze is sprayed on and when dry will go into the kiln to be fired to around 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. This process takes about 24 hours. It is then that the “magic” happens. Some of the pieces will say “pinto de mano” which also means that they are hand painted.
    Your Italian ceramics will last many lifetimes. Colors will never fade, no matter how hard you scrub. Enjoy your wonderful pitcher.

  47. The pitcher is l-o-v-il-e-e, Susan. If it had been me trying to choose, I would still be there … LOL! Also thank you so much for the link re the olive wood culinary set. (As someone else stated, it would make a wonderful Xmas gift.) -Brenda-
    P.S.: I am still waiting to win the Lotto so I can purchase a villa in Italy and invite you …. ☺.

  48. Susan Fun, fun post copying the pig and pitcher to a new P board to motivate me..A question a bit off topic:

    I have been wondering how I will gather and hold all the info as I’m traveling in Europe next spring-aside from ‘focus’ and concentrate on everything around you do you have any suggestions aside from using photos as your prompters when you begin to put down all your memories, the sights and happenings. I suspect your response will be amazingly basic..& I will be embarrassed for even asking!

  49. I returned from Italy on Friday, Oct 30, with many pieces from a ceramic store in Florence. Through the miracle of bubble wrap, all came home intact. The ceramic stores in Italy draw me like a magnet – there is one in Orvieto that is especially wonderful, where the designer and painter is quite original. Thank you for sharing your experiences – I am not alone!!

  50. I spy with my little eye….. SPATULAS!!! Do you think, it’s something we talk about in the store, that the paint would come off the spatulas if you were to cook/wash them? Or do you think they are for decoration only? I said decoration only.

  51. I love your Cortona pitcher, Susan! I’m going to Florence in a couple of weeks and plan to tour some of the Tuscan countryside. Who knows? Maybe we’ll also have a chance to stop in Cortona.

    • You will love the area, Maria! I hope you get to visit Cortona. If you do, Frances Mayes home, the one she wrote about in Under The Tuscan Sun, is just 2 minutes away via taxi. You can actually walk to it if you don’t mind the hills.

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