We left Rimini Monday morning after our Beelight
meeting with Antonella. We decided to take the coastal route to Marcon outside Venice to visit our glassware supplier Due Zeta
, and then a further drive northeast to Udine. The total drive along the coast is about 5 hours.
So here is our Italian driving tip for the trip. Actually 2 tips. There is traffic everywhere. And lots and lots of trucks. The coastal drive was beautiful but painfully slow mired behind convoys of trucks seemingly in slow motion averaging maybe 62 KPH.
Second tip - there are speed traps/radar stations everywhere. Every. Where. We were told if you exceed 10 KPH over the posted limit, you’re guaranteed to get a ticket and making a mandatory budget contribution to the local authorities. So don’t say we didn’t tell ya if you decide to drive.
Marcon & Udine
So after much driving we visited Due Zeta’s warehouse and showroom in Marcon where we met Debora and got a great look at so many styles and colors of hand-painted glassware.
The MIIO March continued north and east where we returned to Udine to meet our good friends at Alma Tonutti
. We stayed at the Royal Ambassador Hotel
in the center of Udine near the train station. An acceptable accommodation if it is a brief stay and especially if you are traveling by train.
Tuesday morning we met Fabio Vicario at the Alma Tonutti factory in Tavagnacco just outside Udine where Fabio is getting ready for a major internal move of operations to the second floor of their building. We got a peek at many new styles of one of our most popular suppliers and are really excited about next season’s choices. Fabio took us to Centro Udine for a great lunch and conversation at Antica Maddalena
(highly recommend!!) and a nice walking tour of the historic center.
Good luck to Fabio on his Japan and Korea trip and we can’t wait to bring you more Alma Tonutti craftsmanship and beauty at MIIO next season.
It is always great to see our amazing friends Marcello Marinelli and the Fulchir family at iVision
in Martignacco, just outside Udine city. This is our third visit to the factory now! IVision is really where our JB3 and MIIO dream officially started way back in July 2021. We are so grateful for their enthusiastic support from day one of our new premier sunglass brand.
Marcello and Eva Fulchir gave us a tour of the factory and a refresher on equipment processes and styles - the factory is just exploding with growth! We toured the new training and showroom center where the JB3’s are on display with many other top iVision brands, which we enjoyed modeling! We then had some great fun presenting everyone with gifts of our own “mariano.” lino shirts
and some JB3/MIIO promo tees and hats. It was off to dinner with everyone at a local ristorante where Stefano Fulchir brought us some gifts as well! We had some great pizza and pastas and a lot of laughs!
On a personal note, it is just wonderful to spend time with the Fulchir family patriarch, Carlo Fulchir who presented us with his new book, too. I’ve got to hone up on my Italian reading skills! And of course a special thanks to Federico Fulchir for translating my always lively conversations with his “papa” Carlo. So much fun and such a special joy to share our family time with the iVision team. Udine is a great city and well worth a visit.
Next, we left Wednesday morning to Maristoca to meet with Parise
, a new supplier, and LineaSette
, the master craftsmen of porcelain ceramics and one of our early customer favorites. We had a great introduction meeting with Alessandra and Massimiliano at Parise with their gorgeous artisan crafted leather and cotton woven bags. And thank you for the coffee!
Next, we met with Emanuele at the showroom and then visited the factory after lunch. We learned that porcelain ceramic urns are a growing business, too!
Maristoca is a great small town with a long history of ceramics businesses. It has an amazing castle at the center of town where we had an incredible lunch at Osteria Madonnetta
sampling delicious local antipasti, bigoli pasta dishes and local vino bianco. If you are anywhere near this area, take a break and check it out.
After, we completed the drive to Bergamo to meet with our very special friend, Marco Ferrabue, on Thursday. Arriving in the early evening, we found a GREAT place for dinner called Casa Ernesto
in the city itself near the Stazione. While they didn’t have two of the three entrees we ordered, the antipasto tradizionale was amazing. And there were about 6 different styles of steak offered and what we ordered was delicious. And we ended the night in great conversation with two new friends, Giorgio and Simone, then joined by the chef and the owner later, whose family ran a macelleria at the exact location for generations prior. A wonderful surprise and highly recommend.
Wow, did that ten days go by fast! Our final business meetings were with a great supporter of MIIO, now a dear friend, and our invaluable resource that helped us launch branded linen shirts - Marco Ferrabue.
We met Marco in late 2021, when MIIO was a very early idea and linen shirts just a dream. Marco is our fabric supplier (and guru) from Canclini in Como and we were quite excited to visit his home city of Bergamo for the first time. After a brioche and cafe, Marco took us for a quick walking tour of the old city which was just spectacular. An absolute must see for anyone visiting Bergamo. Wish we could have spent more time there! Marco then took us to meet a new Italian brand producing amazing knitwear - men’s and women’s - Scaglione. Colors, styles and fabrics. Bellissima!!! We have got to find a way to get some Scaglione into MIIO. Stay tuned!
Then we met with PDA, a shirt finisher owned by a business contact of Marco’s who we met last year - and with some big news. PDA will be the new finisher of our “mariano.” lino shirts, which should arrive to MIIO in many new colors and some much-improved fits in early fall ‘23. Very exciting! We were able to spend very productive time with Sylvia, who will oversee production, and we watched her team in action working on a very well-known brand of linen products at the factory.
We took a quick lunch break nearby (great local blonde lager birra called Viola) and then met the PDA boss Oliviero at another of his factories to see some further designer finishing work being done.
We then visited the nearby Pernici
candle factory for the first time. So many amazing scents that we hope to add to our collection soon!
After these super productive meetings, we took a mandatory rest and then hit a local restaurant in the main city - Osteria Dell’Albachiara
. A GREAT spot for dinner and we HIGHLY recommend. It is a true small neighborhood gem, and the owner (Ivan) is an unforgettable character. We shared some good laughs and amazing jamon artesano cut straight off the leg by our host. And used our fingers as instructed! A great way to end the work portion of the trip and our first visit to Bergamo - una bella citta indeed. With an airport, train hub and beautiful old and new city neighborhoods, Bergamo should be on everyone’s list to visit.
Thank you to everyone who followed our journey! It was an incredible trip, with lots of food, wine and WORK! We are so happy to be able to do something we are truly passionate about. Stay tuned for updates about new products sourced on this trip!