I was headed towards a hardware store at the end of Via dei Coronari in Rome. I didn't realize it was a famous street lined with antique stores. I was happily window shopping, admiring chairs, tables, gilded mirrors and sterling silver. Also came across Gelateria del Teatro hidden in one little side street. The hardware store was a bit hard to find, but I stumbled on this very interesting shop selling antique tiles. These are glazed hand-painted decorative tiles that were removed from houses in southern Italy, mostly Sicily, Sardinia and Naples.
The owner of the shop was a gentleman called Carlo Maffetonne, who had been to Manila, and has good friends/customers here. He told me their names but of course I forgot their names too. All I was interested in were his old tiles! He showed me his inventory which he had in his computer. He kept saying that the tiles were from the 700 or 800 period. I didn't know if he meant they are from 700 or 800 AD? I had been in Rome for a few days now and everything I'd been seeing was ancient--the colloseum was built in 80 AD, so 800 didn't seem too impressive to me then.
I left the shop because I had to meet the rest of the family for dinner, but not after looking over many of his tiles. But what would I do with a few pieces? Over dinner I couldn't get my mind off the tiles! I knew I had to go back and get at least four of them. Maybe I could hang them somewhere in the deck area.
The next day, I made sure I made my way back down to the store, got gelato again at Gelateria al Teatro, walked down this wonderful street very slowly until I got to the end. I chose four tiles, bargained a bit, and got it all packed up with bubble wrap ready to stuff into my suitcase. They were about 30 euro each! I was and still am so thrilled with this purchase ( bought the tiles to the left of the tiles pictured above--but now I realize that the one in the picture is more my type!)
The next day was a Sunday and we went to the Porta Portese, Rome's famous sprawling flea market. They had these tiles below for 11 euro each--but they were nowhere as beautiful as the ones in Senor Maffettone's shop.
I want to buy more of the antique tiles but I just don't know where to put them!