This post is penned by my better half and has the potential to start a new series on the blog.
Every room in my house has at least one item that transports me to the exact moment and place where I got it. The stories behind things like an elegant silk scarf, or leather shoes in bright yellow color, or a garnet ring, are embedded in my memory like stamps on the postcard. I smile every time when I hold them in my hands and re-live the memories again and again.
It is the summer of 2013. Lake Como. I want to take thousands of pictures to capture THAT color of the roof, THIS plate of Pappardelle Bolognese, THOSE purple-orange sunsets. My 3-year-old daughter is sitting happily in her stroller with a cone of Stracciatella gelato. She is fully enjoying her first European trip.
We are spending an evening in the village of Bellagio where we already explored a number of interesting points. Right now, we are in the center of the evening market. A village market is an essential staple of the European culture, and going to one is my favorite activity. This particular market is all about antiques – you can find all kinds of treasures here. There are, for instance, old keys to a wine cellar. Or a shot glass that was once a part of a 100-piece dining set but now standing in solitude accompanied only by a silver coffee spoon. Or a chess set in polished ivory that had been forgotten by all but is now waiting to be bought and put back in action. At the heart of the market, there is a carousel for kids of all ages, and all over are numerous stands with all kinds of food and drinks, with soft music echoing the sound of the lake.
As I walk a few steps ahead of everyone, I spot a table with bags: shopping bags, a theater clutch, a lunch bag, a beach tote, and finally the BLUE BACKPACK. It is compact, made of strong canvas with multiple pockets, and will easily fit a bottle of water, a cashmere scarf, and maybe a pair of sunglasses. You can see it has been lovingly used and there is plenty of life left in it.
I want that bag! I need that bag! It will be a great addition to my collection!
The older gentleman by the table is nursing his espresso and nodding in my direction, indicating: go on … try it! You will love it! I am in love already. The sticker on the bag says 18 Euros. I am unzipping every pocket, turning the bag every which way as if I am thoroughly examining it, and practically ready to hand over cash to him. The man puts down his cup, smiles at me, and uses his hands to tell me: 15 Euros. I was willing to pay 18, but now the deal is sealed! In fact, I immediately deposit all of my stuff into the new backpack and happily join my family. I vaguely remember my husband asking me if I really needed another bag, and I have no recollection of what I said in response. The expression on my face must have said it all: the bag belongs to me and that is the end of the story! As I continued along the market stalls, I was overjoyed to have this perfect bag as my souvenir.
Later that night, I looked up the name on the bag, Roberta di Camerino, and was even more pleased with my market purchase. Apparently, this was not a minor name in the world of fashion. The company’s page says that “the bags themselves evoke stories, characters, and emotion”. Turns out I bought a piece of Italian fashion history without even realizing it. How wonderful for me!
Over the years, this bag has become my indispensable companion for both day trips and simple runs to the store. Whenever I pick it up, my mind travels back to that evening in Bellagio, where my little daughter is waiving happily with her melting gelato in hand …. and I want to jump on the first flight to Italy to find my next treasure.