Commonly Asked Questions
How did Calabria Treasures come about?
Calabria Treasures is the brain child of two Calabrian women, Barbara Aiello and Lidia Cosentino, who live and work in the region and who are dedicated to helping their own village of Serrastretta and surrounding small towns to combat the hardships brought about by a stagnant economy, made worse by Covid 19 work restrictions.
According to government statistics compiled between April and June 2020, Italy’s unemployment rate soared in southern Italy, with the highest rates (nearly 20 percent) recorded in Calabria and Sicily.
In addition some of the disparities in unemployment are the direct result of gender bias as nearly one in four Calabrian women are without work. Couple these statistics with the fact that wages in Southern Italy are far below the averages recorded in all of Europe, small towns in Calabria are especially vulnerable.
That’s where Calabria Treasures comes in. Barbara recalls, “Several months ago I greeted my neighbor who was busy cleaning and organizing his workshop. He had amassed a pile of items that were no longer useful to him – among them an old ceramic olive container and ornate handles from a broken window frame. I looked carefully at these items and it occurred to me that there are American, Canadian and Australian families with Italian Calabrian roots who would appreciate having a memento from the area that represents their ancestral home. Couple heritage with economy and our Calabria Treasures consignment program was born!”
Lidia and Barbara found studio space and began to gather these vintage treasures, assuring locals that any item they offered would net them one half of the selling price – a consignment program that would put Euros in the pockets of Calabrian families, many of whom are struggling financially.
Lidia says, “Our Calabria region is hurting. Year after year it has to deal with an unstoppable emigration of young and old as they move to the north of Italy and onward to other countries as well.” Lidia and Barbara hope that Calabria Treasures will, in some small but significant way, begin to reverse this trend.
Where do you find these Calabria Treasures?
In storage spaces and sheds, in “cantinas,” and attics, textiles, ceramics and vintage items of all kinds are just waiting to be discovered as a Calabria Treasure.
Barbara Aiello, is an Italian-American and one of the founders of the Calabria Treasures project. She says, “It is fundamental to our Italian upbringing that you never throw anything away. When an older relative passes on, the furniture, the dishes, the knickknacks from the home of the recently departed are given to surviving family members who just incorporate them into their homes. A typical Calabria house may be stuffed with chairs, ceramics, desks and “armadii,” (clothes cabinets) that once belonged to grandparents and great grands. I often say that redecorating is not a part of Calabria life – so much so that If Martha Steward had been Italian she’d be out of business!”
The Calabrian idea that nothing is ever thrown away forms the basis for Calabria Treasures. Barbara and her partner, Lidia Cosentino posted flyers throughout their village, asking residents to donate an item for sale with the understanding that the former owner would receive one half of the sale price. Lidia created a document stating the consignment policy, including a provisions that after six months items would either return to their owners or the asking price would be reduced.
For those with roots here in the “toe” of the “boot,” a visit to the website can serve as a trip down Memory Lane. The ceramics with their distinctive Calabria design, the textiles woven by hand, the handmade chairs with the “raffa” type seats will evoke memories for those who once lived in the region or who listened as “nonni” told stories of their growing up in Calabria.
What is the condition of your items?
All of the items we’ve gathered for Calabria Treasures have been gently used, some for more than a century. Others have been preserved in cabinets, particularly the signature Italian corner cabinet, or “angolieri,” and have been a part of local household décor for years.
Some pieces are rusty while others, like vintage tablecloths, may have a small stain. That’s because these items are real treasures, having been used with love by Calabrian families for generations. For example, the fireplace ceramic cookpot is blackened on the outside because it was actually placed in a fireplace – the only source of heat for cooking the family meal.
If you’d like to know more about the item you are considering for purchase, send your question via email to Calabria Treasures at: Rabbi@RabbiBarbara.com
We’d love to hear from you!
Is shipping really free?
Shipping to the North America, including all of the United States and Canada, as well as shipping to countries in Europe is included in the price of your item.
Shipping to other locations is calculated at cost from Italy.