Elio Barati’s perfumery shop in Florence marks its entrance with a mosaic star. This shop immerses Elio in the artisanal world he loves, but he harbors a regret. As a young man he created a full-fledged perfume of jasmine, iris, and cypress at the renowned Ecole des Parfumeurs in Grasse—a fragrance his idealism and stubbornness boxed away before ever bringing it to light. A second star now brightens Elio’s life, his daughter Romina, an artist. She has her father’s unrealized talent, a precise and intuitive sense of smell. She’s also inherited more challenging traits of Elio’s: unbridled ambition and an insatiable wonder for the world. But changes ripple through modern-day Florence. Artisan traditions wane; and when Romina tells her father she has no intention of running the family business Elio fights to hold on to the Florence he cherishes. Confronting the lost opportunities of his youth, Elio is thrust into this journey by five spirited women: his Greek mother, Elena; his mentor Palma; his soul mate, Marina; his astronomer wife, Sofia; and finally his beautiful artist daughter, who like the city of her birth, shows him how tradition and modernity can and must co-exist. Now he must alter his own path by harnessing the transformative powers of the fine and artisanal arts.
Hi everyone! Here’s another book on Italy that you might love. Thanks to Italy Book Tours:
About the Book:
The Books and Research that Inspired The Artisan’s Star
by Gabriella Contestabile
While I didn’t know it at the time my research began when my father gave me a copy of “The Passionate Sightseer” by Bernard Berenson. Even though the pictures were in black and white and the story of little relevance to a nine-year-old it sparked in me a lifelong passion for books, travel, art, and Florence. Years later, research for ‘The Artisan’s Star’ led me back full-circle and unexpectedly, to the same dog-eared book my dad gave me decades ago.
I added countless other books over the years, notably Kinta Beevor’s “A Tuscan Childhood”. I wanted to better understand Florence in the 1950s, even though I have vivid memories of Italy during those times when my parents would take us back to our hometown, Avezzano, every summer. So many of the references to dress, food and practices in “The Artisan’s Star”, are from my own experiences. I still remember the Fiat Cinquecento my aunt picked us up from the train station in, the sarta (seamstress) and sarto (tailor) who would make our clothes, my grandmother lifting a huge urn filled with water from the stone fountain and carrying it on her head through the center of Antrosano, and the first time I tasted Nutella (the original) spread on crusty bread.
Michael Edwards’ book ‘Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances”, my travels as an international cosmetics executive through the villages of Tuscany and the fields and perfume laboratories in Grasse to launch a Tuscan-inspired fragrance, a week working in a family -owned perfumery in Florence, and multiple seminars with master perfumers gave me an appreciation for perfume, as an art form.
So perfume became the metaphor for Elio’s life journey, for all our life journeys in fact. The immediate top-note of a perfume introduces us to the scent. It sparkles like youth and its multiple possibilities. The mid-note, as the perfume warms on the skin, parallels our middle years when we put down roots, raise families, build careers. And the base note, the warmest and most sensual part of the scent, represents our later years when it’s too late to realize the dreams of our youth, but the ideal moment to imagine a richer, more profound dream, one that probably involves ‘giving back’ in a meaningful way.
The Artisan’s Star is a brilliant book for anyone who loves Florence and Italy. It talks so much of the wondrous city that is Florence that you can’t help but fall in love with the town again. I was transported to the land of perfumery and poetry. Contestabile’s writing style is very stylish too and she really knows her art. The book has beautiful descriptions that makes me want to visit and stay in Florence. However, despite all of this I think the book is better suited to people who have already been to Florence or Italy in general. Hence, I would give the book 3 stars!