Bringing Home Italian Style Part II


I have collected hand-blown glass forever – nothing matches and they all have their own story of the find. This is the time to mix & match and make it casual: porcelain, paper, glass, old doilies, linen all on a background of handmade lace cloth (I think it was supposed to be a bedspread). Remember to follow the Mediterranean tradition of siesta, one that all cultures should adopt.


Pay attention to the details and use the textures and icons seen on your trip: things like a porcelain pendant light, an old steamship towel, rope trivet as a soap dish. Use heavy extra-long tea towelling linen as a floor mat. I have a fascination with mirrors: I had one bespoke made in the shape of a shield, similar to the ones seen in Sorrento, then layered it in with my vintage collection. Wallpaper your bathroom with ropes and give it some art – the number 8 is made out of foam and was very inexpensive.

Gather all the things that remind you of your trip, like a mantelpiece I saw at La Minervetta. For me it was rope, coral, under-the-sea-inspired ceramics & flotsam. A great sideboard or foyer display or 3D diary of your fun holiday adventures.

I painted the edges of books with chalkboard paint, and wrote the titles on the spine with chalk.

Say it with love & say it in lights! This will lighten up any occasion and you can write anything. Just bundle fairy lights together with string or cable tie, then mould into your desired word. It's time-consuming, but worth it. Once you've finished, stick it on the wall with the stickiest sticky tape you can find (but not so sticky it rips the plaster off). I saw so many roadside and alcove shrines throughout Naples & the Amalfi Coast, often with blue lights as crowns.

My family has a running joke about my luggage being heavy and full of stones. This trip was no different – even though I do try to edit it. There's nothing I like more than beachcombing, looking for the perfect pebble, which is grey and egg-shaped. I keep my stone on the stairway, in the bottom of the bathtub, in the garden, on the fence, everywhere. I remember where I picked each one up.

To Read

World of Interiors, April 2009, Vol 29, no.4.
'Original Species' by Jessica Hayns
When I saw this story in my all-time favourite interior magazine, my interest in Naples grew even more. I often travel to a city for a particular sight, building, shop, exhibition, restaurant. Nothing like a small project or pilgrimage.

The Marvellous Museum: Orphans, Curiosities & Treasures
A Mark Dion Project from Oakland Museum of California
I adore all this guy's projects (and his partner, J Morgan Puett's) and have seen many in many countries. His installations & art projects cover urban archaeological, entomologists' sheds, books etc.

The Theatre of Nature or Curiosity Filled The Cabinet by Mark Dion.
I bought this small accordion book of line drawings from Printed Matter, inc. In NYC many moons ago. I refer to it often and it satisfies many a cabinet of curiosity question.

Ulysses by James Joyce
I have many old copies of this book, and often think of the adventurer resisting the lure of the sirens. However, although it has travelled distances with this companion, I am yet to read it! I get swamped and stuck and put it down.

Images of Distances by Franco Sersale
I bought this at Le Sirenus in Positano. The hotel is family owned, and run by Antonio. This is his father's book of photography, printed on beautiful matte art paper. His photographs are of faces & places in remote, magical & beautiful ports around the globe. I feel like ripping them all out and pasting them on the wall.

La Natura Morta Italiana: From Caravaggio to the 18th Century, catalogue from an exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2003.
I lugged this massive book home after being so inspired when I stumbled upon the exhibition in Italy. I even named a paint colour Natura Morta, which means "still life" in Italian.

The Art & Flea Markets of Italy  by Marina Seveso
I have used this throughout Italy for fab, hard-to-find markets. A little hard to navigate if you're not familiar with the geography of Italy, but worth the effort.

To Stay

Le Sirenuse Positano
A family hotel full of antiques & heirlooms. Once the family holiday house, it oozes style and elegance.

L'Albergo Del Purgatorio Naples
This is a treat. You have to become a member, and it's worth the effort. Rambling rooms, you could have a large party here and everyone could stay.

La Minervetta  Sorrento
Red, white & blue, a hillside over the Mediterranean – what more could you want? Not only is the interior spectacular: blue & white stripe tiles and coastal ceramics, but the breakfast is delicious as you contemplate life on the sunny patio. A very personal collection of hand-picked furniture pieces lovingly restored & souvenirs collected from around the globe. Very bold & graphic.

Villa Cimbrone Ravello
I stayed here years ago in a blue & white tiled room. Spectacular, established gardens set high on the hill, looking over the Amalfi Coast.

To See

Zoological Museum Naples
Tens of thousands of insects; taxidermied specimens hundreds of years old, massive whale skeleton and even some extinct animals. Lots of mother of pearl, too.

Tune in next week for more adventures.

FILED 06, Apr 2016

  • SYDNEY SHOP & STUDIO 3.02 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW 2044
  • 0429 589 982
  • SYDNEY SHOP & STUDIO 3.02 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW 2044
  • 0429 589 982