Cut me and I bleed red, white and green. I’m putting it out there so you understand that what I’m about to share is not meant as judgment against all Italians.
This happened a few years back, I was in Rome with my Italian BFF Lauretta. We ended up in a place favorited by tourists and in spite of our ‘I’m not falling for it’ motto, we wandered around a few bancarelle, trinkets booths. Big mistake. It was our last day in Rome and since it’s not like we never go there, neither of us needed a souvenir—but. Yes, here comes the but.
This particular bancarella, was minded by a middle age woman, soft spoken, no heavy mascara—in other words, not your typical charlatan. We chatted, another big mistake, she had some hand painted china cups and some darling ceramic mugs, only two of them. One had a scene of Fontana di Trevi and the other one had the most delicate and beautiful rendering of a detail from the Sistene Chapel ceiling. She explained the beautiful hand painted ones were done by her younger sister, a once promising artist who could no longer paint due to some degenerating eye problem. This was all that was left of her work. And also the reason there were no product information marking the bottom of the cups/mugs. Hand made, you understand, right? We practically begged her to take our money.
I ended up with the Sistene Chapel one. I so cherished my Roman treasure that I never, ever used the mug. It sat in the cupboard among my most precious pieces. Yes, I collect mugs. My family knew better than to get a mug from that shelf. Last month I moved. The kitchen is smaller, less shelves. I had help unpacking. Somehow the Roman masterpiece got used and ended up in the dishwasher. By the time I figured it out, the only thing left of the hand painted design is what you see in the pic. I had to use tweezers to unclog the dishwasher drain from the pieces of colorful plastic that were stuck to it. I’m sure if that Italian vendor was reading this she would gently explain that the problem is not the hand painted part, but the American detergent I used to wash it with. Ah, Italia! Forever.