Daily dose of gelato in hand, I meander through the back alleys and narrow streets of Florence’s Oltrarno quarter. A few blocks from the Arno River, away from tourists and crowds, lies a quiet neighborhood of Florentine artists. Peering into the artisan workshops and studios, you discover a rich part of Florence’s culture and history. Bookbinders, silversmiths, paper marblers, sculptors, marble craftsmen, perfume makers, potters, shoemakers, metal workers. Some of these craftspersons apprenticed under a master or studied with an instructor. Many are members of artisan families, and the skills and practices were handed down through the generations.
You can’t just be you. You have to double yourself. You have to read books on subjects you know nothing about. You have to travel to places you never thought of traveling. You have to meet every kind of person and endlessly stretch what you know.
-Mary Wells Lawrence, 88, advertising executive and first female CEO of a NYSE company
Susan McVicker and Katie Gilliam describe their chance meeting as a God thing. With a mother-daughter age difference, they both marvel at the timing of their worlds coming together and the adventure that unfolded. Susan says she “couldn’t possibly have imagined that her art would someday help women on the other side of the world.” Four years ago Susan came across a dilapidated shoe box filled with her late grandfather’s
I hesitated, wondering if I was truly headed in the right direction. Following my instructions, I turned down a deserted alley, made more gloomy and lonely by the heavy San Francisco rain and gray January morning. The alley consisted of back doors and fire escapes and garbage dumpsters and Chinese signs. I came upon one tiny English sign and smiled – I was in the right place. The Golden Gate