What an extraordinary day! We took our prepared plates to the studio and home of the ceramicist Katinka Kielstra, where she and her husband, Robert, greeted us with coffee and Prosecco, and Katinka helped us glaze them. I have never drawn or painted, but I have to say it was a magnificent experience. Some of the women, as you see above, were exceptional artists, but all the plates turned out to be quite beautiful.
After a scrumptious lunch of homemade lasagna prepared by Katinka, we walked up the hill a short ways to the olivewood studio of Stefano Geminani, who demonstrated how he creates olive bowls and other beautiful pieces on his hundred-year-old wood-carving machines. It takes a minimum of 15 years to produce an olive wood bowl, because it takes that long for the wood to season. Sadly, his daughters have no interest in carrying on his craft, and he is forbidden from hiring or teaching anyone else the skill because his ancient machines have no safety equipment. When Stefano retires or dies, another tradesman of the old craft will be gone forever with no one to take his place.
As we walked back to Katinka’s, I was struck by the vision of the hills that hold these beautiful orchards and groves. They are stunning in their variations of color and depth—punctuated by bright red poppies and other colorful flowers; the wisteria especially was extraordinary.
Back at Casa Fiori, Karolina prepared another delicious dinner with wine, and limoncello for dessert, of course. On Wednesday, Katinka will bring us our fired plates to bring home. Tomorrow, a day at the market in Lucca.
Walking through the olive orchard at Il Gallo