I cannot even begin to express in words the gamut of emotions I experienced during a most amazing week shopping at the largest Antiques fair in Italy, Mercanteinfiera. (Sigh.)
As you know, I love antiques, and my dear friend Toma Clark Haines of The Antiques Diva and Co. invited us to antique shop with her and her team of skilled and oh-so-connected guides through five buildings of the finest Italy has to offer. We began our adventure with a prosecco toast the first evening, meeting our fellow travelers, then whisked away to a private dinner in the outskirts of Parma. Parma is known as the “stomach of Italy” as it is the home of Prosciutto di Parma ham and Parmesan cheese so the food was absolutely amazing. And, with the expert planning and research of our guides, we enjoyed all Parma had to offer in a small ristorante on the outskirts of town, f52. It was a great way to kick off our trip!
The next morning we arrived at the fair not knowing what we were in for. If you saw any of my “insta-stories” or follow my Instagram, you could tell my excitement. As special guests of Mercanteinfiera, we were allowed early access to shopping. The fair didn’t open to the public until two days later, even early buying was the following day, so we were there to actually see all of these historic treasures coming off the trucks. It was so thrilling to see the dealers unloading (read: unveiling) these relics.
My favorite find was the absolute first thing I saw. I almost stumbled over a fellow attendee as I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the most beautiful PAIR of terra cotta dogs. I mean, I died. I followed the two dogs, half in their crating, being wheeled into their booth. They were the most perfect color (I like to call it bleached terra cotta) and in perfect condition. They were approximately 40” tall. The dogs seemed to be a greyhound, as they were larger boned than a whippet, sitting atop a ruffled pillow. Win. Win. Win.
My other novelty I came across were these charming children figurines. They were cast bronze with gold gilding. Their faces were carved ivory. Need I say more? What I loved about them were their charming stances and faces. I mean, if you are going to have children in your home, these were the perfect ones. I’m sure they would mind their manners and never talk back.
Throughout every building there was anything and everything you would want for a home and all types of Antique Shopping for any taste. Chandeliers, oil paintings, reclaimed frescos, casegoods, upholstery, rugs…I could go on and on. The fair housed mostly Italian antiques, but we did find a fabulous set of English Queen Anne upholstered chairs that were a very good value. The fabric alone cost thousands originally and were in excellent condition.
What I was a little surprised by was the garden section. They went all out on presentation here. Large trees and boxwoods (my favorite) were arranged in parterres with antique statuary and fountains. There was a vendor selling reclaimed greenhouses, which were fully assembled for review and painted in fabulous colors. I so wanted to get one as an enclosure for our annual fall party, but alas, it was too big for my suitcase!
All in all, Mercanteinfiera was, without a doubt, the most sophisticated and savvy accumulation of antique dealers I have had the privilege to shop with. Dealers had their documentation and provenance of many of the items I found. They really knew the history and background of the items and the lessons I learned were fascinating and entertaining. Isn’t that what dream Antique Shopping trips are made of? So now, when I dream, I dream of Italy.