AO Journal

#Italy Strong

As the global virus continues to evolve, we hope you are staying strong, healthy, and above all, safe. Our hearts go out to all who are affected by the pandemic, particularly the citizens of Italy. From Sicily to Venice, the Italian spirit, courage and resilience is truly remarkable.

Courtesy of Toma Clark Haines

One of those touched is friend of ArtOrigo and ex-pat Toma Clark Haines, otherwise known as the “Antiques Diva.” The Oklahoma City ex-pat, who now resides in Venice and operates the world’s largest antique buying tours in 16 countries, shares her thoughts with us on the current state of affairs and shopping online.  “The world as we know it will not be the same, so online shopping will continue to be a major trend, particularly in terms of antiques,” she says. And when shopping for Italian antiques and art, she advises that it’s all about establishing a relationship with the dealer. “When buying online, the best way to have confidence in your purchase is to first buy through a reputable source like ArtOrigo (who has already started the relationship for you which is a major selling point). Nowhere is this more important than In Italy where people do business over dinner and online can create that whole ‘dinner experience’ for you through interaction. Italians like to engage on an emotional level so don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

And always the fashionista, she admits that shopping online at 3 AM with a glass of Prosecco in her leopard pajamas can be a welcome pleasure. “The great thing about shopping online these days is you don’t have to get on a plane. I firmly believe it’s going to be the primary way people will do business.”


Galleria Esposito

We would also like to shine a spotlight on ArtOrigo’s Galleria Esposito, a three-generation family business located in an ancient 14th century building in Florence’s antique-rich Via Maggio district. Specializing in Italian and European antiques and art from the 1700s to present, owner Chiara Esposito has a penchant for eclectic. “Italian and French Baroque, Neoclassical and Empire period works of art are among my favorite antique pieces; but as I love art in all its forms, I love my inventory to be always eclectic and now my customer can find also Art Deco and design,  Mid-Century Modern and vintage pieces and fabrics as well.” The gallery is also a hot spot for book signings, workshops, contemporary art exhibitions and even fashion shoots. 

Esposito espouses the benefits of online shopping, noting, “My personal trait within the company has certainly consisted in the strong belief of the potential of the online market and pushing it as much as possible, as I have an international clientele of loyal customers and new contacts who trust our service and our brand even if they live on the other side of the world.” And while it’s hard to predict the future, she practices positive thinking. “At this precise moment, it is difficult to make predictions, but I believe that people will want to make their homes even more comfortable, cozy and welcoming. The search for beauty, and the piece that will satisfy our eye and our soul doesn’t stop even in these difficult moments. Italian design and craftsmanship will always be at the top of customers' wishes.”



Also located in Florence is the luxury home furnishings store Flair. Founded in 1998 by Alessandra Tabacchi and Franco Mariotti, the glamourous store housed in a 15th-century riverside palace on Lungarno Corsini is a haven for vintage contemporary furniture, lighting, sculpture, art, and accessories. Flair’s design aesthetic revolves around a color palette of black and white as a mark of style, as they detail their look “remains faithful to a linear style and negates the concept of minimalism for minimalism’s sake. A Flair that is personal, the research of a natural approach that is far from the hyper-decorative and the overly used rigors of contemporary design.” From works by A. Murri, Ian Meyer, and Monica Gasperini to Marzio Cecchi and Willy Rizzo, Flair is a virtual treasure trove of unique one-of-a-kind collections. 

While we hope and pray that circumstances change soon in these unprecedented and unsettled times, one thing is for sure, Italy will be back and stronger than ever. Brighter days are ahead.