Bah, humbug said the Scrooge Midge as she stared at the masses of cars outside the mall and struggled to drive past it on the super crowded highway. Bah, Bah, BAH, HUMBUG said super angry Scrooge Midge when she saw all of the Black Friday news shots of herds of people trampling into the evil BOX STORES that plague the American landscape. How can Scrooge Midge get back in touch with the Christmas Spirit? How can Scrooge Midge get in touch with her inner Santa and put down that bottle of Scotch? She can go into the gift closet and start reminiscing about where she bought the baubles for her family and be proud that she thought about gift buying for Christmas when she was still in Pontelandolfo. Even prouder that she was shopping uber-local from people who live and work in a minuscule Italian village. Whoa – look at this –
Seeing the necklace made me think of Ornella Romano, the charming and creative owner of Oro Giovane. The first vision that popped into my head was Ornella sitting on the outdoor couch at Bar Elimar with her daughter Olga Addona under the blue morning sky, drinking cappuccinoS. I didn’t really know them well but smiled and said “buon giorno.” As I did every – oops Jack caught my lie – most mornings, I went to the bar, ordered a cappuccino, sat outside with my lap top, sipped the best cappuccino in the world, stared and did my writing. When I went to pay I discovered that my caffè had been paid for by Ornella! Grazie tante! Welcome to village life.
My talented cousin Carmela Fusco creates dolls dressed in historic traditional garb. Before I found Carmella and started a relationship that has spanned many years, I visited Pontelandolfo, wandered into a small shop and bought a doll for myself and one for my niece. Years later, I realized my first connection to Carmela was the doll!
She sells them now at Ora Giovane and some years ago brought me there to meet the owners, Ornella and her husband Rossano Addona. During our visits, we often stop in and have bought some pieces, but never really spent time getting to know Ornella’s family. This trip was different. We would run into the family in the piazza listening to music, sipping a prosecco or taking the sun. Like many of the small business owners, they would sit outside their shop on nice days and talk to other shop owners, gossip with villagers and include outsiders like us in daily life.
Olga Addona attended the goldsmith specialty high school available to students from the Province of Benevento. Can you imagine – a public school where talented art students can learn goldsmithing! Unfortunately, because Pontelandolfo is not on a regular bus or train line it is difficult for students to attend the school and there has been a huge drop in enrollment. Sadly, the school is closing this year. Hey Arts Folks – WHAT A GREAT OPPORTUNITY! Why not reopen it for artsy American adults! Charge a tuition! Bring some tourist dollars into town.
I am passionate about shopping local – and yes I do shop locally in New Jersey. My meat comes from farms not factories, my meds are from a family owned pharmacy, etc. Shopping in Pontelandolfo is really like a walk back in time when Main Streets were thriving and everyone knew your name and if you acted like a wild child any adult would call your parents.
I truly enjoyed popping into Oro Giovane and foraging for fantastic gifts. The family owns two shops on the piazza – one is just jewelry, art and tchatchkes.
The second shop has great purses and accessories. Santa – Babbo Natale – loves family owned shops, artisan studios and well – anything local in the USA and Italy. So will you when you visit my other hometown – Pontelandolfo!
Huzzah – I just remembered – NOW SANTA GETS TO WRAP ALL THIS SWAG! BUON NATALE!
Oro Giovane’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/orogiovane.gioielleria?fref=ts