This weekend I spent most of my time at the Artigiano in Fiera at Milan – which translates to “Craftsman” or “Handyman” and roughly means to me – all things made by hand and/or homemade.
What it also meant was a chance to get closer to the people that are making things, which is something that I’ve really been fascinated by lately. Which is why I like looking at a site like Etsy.com, which has brought together tons of artists and crafts(ladies) for jewelry and other handmade items.
Artigiano in Fiera is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of the year. Kilometers and kilometers of booths of craftsmen and small-scale manufacturers that I wouldn’t have been able to get introduced to otherwise. There are 10 pavilions, the majority of which are dedicated to the Italian regions, with 1-3-5 showcasing the Lombardy region, 2-4-6 showcasing the other Italian regions, 7-8-9-10 showcasing other parts of the world including Russia, China, India, and Europe.
There is something for everyone there – handmade soap, furniture, jewelry, scarves, ceramics, wine, fresh mozzarella, quilts, paintings, wooden flowers, kites, persian rugs, table settings, olives, cannoli, restaurants, lace, lamps, hookahs, tapestries, stemware, ornaments, wooden sculptures, heating systems, internet, custom-made shirts, hats, bread, liquor, and….more.
*takes in breath*
You can outfit your house, find a Christmas gift, or just take the Sunday “passegiata” walk for a change of scenery, although this really isn’t recommended. Because in the end, it’s not a walk in the park.
It’s a war.
Artigiano in Fiera is really a modern-day natural selection. It’s a test of wills and skills to keep going through the thousands of people to get the best product samples, the latest fad or the cheapest deal on that lamp you’ve been eyeing.
And like all good natural selection, it preys on the weak.
Mother with a baby in a stroller? Time to destruction: 45 minutes
Mother with a baby in a sling? Two hours
Mother with small children? 53 minutes (give or take 10 minutes if sweets are bought)
Old men on their Sunday passegiata? 1 hour, 10 minutes
Young couple? Until whichever meal is the closest
Haggling casalinghe (housewives)? 4+ hours
Saturday and Sunday I saw most people dropping like flies and leaving due to the confusion, the chaos and the CHOICE. Because we all know, sometimes too much choice is not a good thing. Especially in my case, I nearly go crazy from it, and in the end, that’s what got me. I only made it to three hours because my head self-combusted from too much choice.
I stood in the middle of one of the pavilions, debating whether I should head back to Southern Italy, go through India again or if I should give another look at the display in China. My brain couldn’t calculate the best solution, so in the end, I left.
But I’ll be back.
Let’s give a little credit where credit is due – here’s a few videos I managed to film – I was so close because I was pressed up against whatever divider separated man from the animals (us being the animals).
[Note: Embedded videos - click through to site if you don't see them]
Making Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian sweet. The cinnamon one was sooooooo good.
Here’s a closer look at my Hungarian treat, Kurtoskalacs. It was a bit spongy like bread and the outside was crisp, and the best part was that you got to peel it down the same way that he put it on the baking roll holder. Yum!
A man putting touches on some pottery.
Making la Focaccia Ligure – there was a line about 30 people deep for this.