Many of you know, I have a beautiful Italian mother. She lives in Trieste Italy, but for years while raising her family, she lived here in the US. I remember affectionately all that she taught me about keeping a home and decorating (one in the same) too. After all I learned all my skills and everything I do well from my mother Lucia! So with that in mind I asked my Italian girlfriends, what they fondly remember about their mother's teachings of home keeping and decorating. Here's what they said;
Maria C. said, "The most important decorative part in my mom's house has always been the "centrini all'uncinetto", all around the house at the bottom of vases or ceramic decorations or a big one at the center of the table." These were traditionally handmade by any woman in the house and this craft was also a big part of the "housewife learning skills" before getting married."
Enza said, "The two tips I remember from my Mother the hand embroidered linen sheets and pillow cases. She would fold them over so the embroidery would show. And she always had the formal rooms wall papered."
Maryanne said, "She loved white or cream colored lace tablecloths. She always kept one on our dinning room table. When we ate outside, she would use a plastic white lace tablecloth! My grandmother was fond of very ornate furniture. The more curves it had, the more she loved it. I remember them very well because it was mine and my sister's responsibility to polish these ornate pieces and it would take us forever to do them. My mother in law loved intricate glass figurines that she kept on her tables, buffets, dressers, etc... Many were Murano glass."
Maria M. said, "She keeps a lace ecru runner on the dining room table with crystal which goes with everything."
Annette said, "My Italian grandmother's concept for home design was that everyone should feel comfortable and welcome in your home. She chose her furnishings for comfort first and style second. She also decorated with eclectic style using family handed down items along side drawings from grandchildren and photos of family to fill her space. And of course everyone was always greeted with a big hugs and the loving words "are you hungry honey, I have some fill in the blank (soup, spaghetti, meatballs, etc) in the kitchen I can heat up."
Theresa said, "She was a pretty plane Jane and kept everything and didn't throw away anything."
Rosie said, "She did everything, very well and with pride. From painting the house to making the mattresses, cleaning, cooking, washing everything by hand, making curtains, bedspreads, knitting, crocheting, etc. She liked to paint white the antique furniture pieces that we had. Oh, oh, she took Ikebana classes and made wonderful arrangements. She loved to cook savory and sweet. There is so much she could do.... I am tearing up so I will leave you with this: her favorite decorating tip was to love everybody, being sweet, sweet, sweet, caring and generous."
It was clear to me after reading my Italian girlfriend's responses that Italian moms decorate from the heart. They keep the home in good running order, and they make it look lovely at the same time. This is a gift, and this is our gift by virtue of birth. Thank you friends, and thank you to our Italian moms!