Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Look Up! or you will miss the most unusual things

If you look around you and always look UP, 

there are amazing things to see

Street artist that caught my attention
I often wonder who they are without makeup?
Every day at lunch the line snakes down the street for hot sandwiches.

Two years ago this midget (only 2 patrons at a time) shop opened just a few blocks for the Duomo in Florence.
Select your bread from several oversized loafs, select your filling and the owner will 'toast it' or what you will recognize as a pannini machine.  I tried cheese but it never became a grilled cheese.   Filling and well priced.

Finding Photo Treasures

Seaside fog offers interesting images.

Too often I return from a trip with photos that have not been sorted or edited.

Preparing for a camera class today, I found a memory card with some of my favorite places.

Feb 2017:  adding a few more from an afternoon in Padova

                                 arriving during lunch leaves the streets half empty on  a Saturday

You may even stumble on a wedding

Brave sole will clime to the cupola and stand outside with only a small railing between you and the stone pavement.
I recently found a black and white photo of my trip to the top several decades ago,.   

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Naples: the last 'glove' family

I may have visited the 'last' family run glove manufacturer in Naples

previously posted on Home to Italy

Every glove is hand made

On an adventure with Discover Napoli Destinations (DND) I asked to see parts of Naples I would not find on my own and perhaps meet some of the locals.  Tina with Discover Napoli Destinations spent a day sharing the secrets of Napoli with me.   

Even after several solo trips to Naples while I lived in Sorrento on a sabbatical, I had a travelers' fear of Naples.  My day with Tina was the beginning of a new love affair with Napoli!   

On this day, Tina introduced me to Mauro Squillace,  the director of Omega Gloves founded in 1923.    At the time I did not know how 'famous' Sig Squillace was.     He has had many posts written about him as well as professional videos.  As an  Italian American I understand the hard work a family faces to create a business, a life, a legacy.  

Our meeting was a learning experience for me.  I left sharing the pride of an  Italian family that supports each other, has pride in ever stitch of each glove and glad I had met Mauro Squillace.

I spent the afternoon learning how gloves are hand made in Naples.  It was fascinating.    There is a 25 steps from cutting the leather to the finished glove and each gloves passes through the factory 20 times in this process.
The tanned leather is cut by hand one layer at a time.  No cutting machines.    Before patterns are laid out for cutting, the leather is stretched by a multi step process and color matched via natural light.     There are 12 people working in the main office and 70 working from home. 

Each 'part' of the glove is sewed separately and passed on for the next assembly.  Each worker specializes in one thing.   A machine stitched glove can be sewed by machine in 3 1/2 hours.


Cutting and finishing are done at the main office 'factory'.   Omega is the only company  cutting the leather  by hand.  "Other companies use machines to cut the leather."   The majority of the sewing is done at home by women who are part of this extended 'family structure' and work at home.   An amazing network of local women who stitch a single part of the glove and pass it on to the next woman .  This is similar to an 'at home' assembly line.

In this video you will see how a glove is cut from the leather piece.   Amazing.  Just excuse my poor attempt to converse in Italian.............but the result is worth it.

Photos of Italians are the only souvenirs I take home

Two women working in the office stitch gloves with manual sewing machines (circa 1900's is my guess)  that would interest any antique dealer.  Over the years repair parts have been salvaged from other machines.   

Just one line of stitching per pass on the machine and then on to the next item.

  * I asked if these skills were being taught to younger Italians?  "As business owners teach to their sons, also the home sewers teach to their sons.  In 2013 there are no problems with labor, 1st because we are the last ones (glove companies) and many work only for us now, 2nd with this economic crisis (in Italy) people are back to do manual work."

Every glove is created one piece at a time.  Each part of the glove such as the gusset that is at the base of the thumb, is done by the same person and the item is passed on to the next sewer..

Each glove is inspected, a detailed process that insures high
quality.    Sig. Squillace explained that different areas around Naples specialized in a particular glove expertise:  The piquet stitch, in Naples proper, hand sewed gloves from the province of Caserta
and the small towns of Fringhelllo and San Marcellino have matrons' who collect the gloves and divide the work among
the women sewers.  

Even more interesting, "working form home is very important
for us in Naples.  Without medical assistance if you have an ill person at home (an elderly relative or even a child) working
from home is very important to a family.

"A local version of village within the city the camorra is
based on family"  Apparently the BBC did a story on the

After this great visit I have other experiences scheduled  with DND.   

Next:  the tour of the subway, the curse in the gold market and shopping at the local street markets.
I will be returning  a 3rd time for a new adventure with Tina

Tina was my guide and translator for this experience that tourists would rarely ask about.   Working with a local allowed me to go beyond the usual museums, monuments and churches and have a unique experience.

If was an instant connection with Tina and soon I felt as I was traveling with a best friend.  Her endless knowledge about the history of Naples was extensive.  Several times she stopped on the wild ride through the crowded streets of Naples, to share a story with intrigue, history or just a fun background. 

Read more from the original transcript of this meeting to find some fascinating things about Naples and how il familia is so important
and how the influence of the mafia is changed.

I was the guest of Discover Naples Destinations but the opinions are my own.