It is our great pleasure to announce that author and scholar Laura Morelli is partnering with Manimenti to bring our collectors invaluable insight about artisan traditions in upcoming articles for our online journal The Expert Eye

Laura Morelli holds a PhD in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to international publications. Laura Morelli is the author of the Made in… and the Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts guidebook series. The Gondola Maker, an award-winning historical novel about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction. To learn more about Laura Morelli as well as the subject of authenticity in the arts, you can visit Laura Morelli’s web site and blog at

"For two decades, the artisanal traditions of Italy have been my obsession." 

A chance encounter with a multi-generational family of woodworkers near Milan in the 1990s kicked off a journey from the Alps to the islands to interview makers of beautiful objects from gondolas to gold rings. In Sardinia, I watched an 88-year-old woman work a wooden handloom her grandmother had taught her to use when she was five. In Umbria, I witnessed a ceramicist draw inspiration from a 500-year-old fragment at his side. In the gastronomic capital of Parma, I saw an inspector poke a ham hock with a horse-bone needle, and draw it under his nose to rate its quality. I have only begun to peel back the layers of Italy’s rich artisanal history.

It is the stories and people behind these great traditions that captivate me. Whether makers of Florentine leather or Neapolitan mandolins, contemporary Italian artisans I interview tell me how important it is to them to pass the torch of tradition to the next generation, to make certain that their special knowledge endures. One of the most impressive things about Italian workmanship is that—even with the sophisticated technologies available today—no one has improved on the hand-wrought designs of these masters. Even in the twenty-first century, their work is recognized around the world as a benchmark of quality.

So many artisans are quietly turning out masterpieces in studios across the Italian peninsula. I am thrilled to partner with Manimenti to help bring these unsung heroes and their work to a wider audience. Like the books in my Authentic Arts series, my work with Manimenti is intended to lead you beyond the souvenir shops to discover the stories and the people behind extraordinary regional traditions. If you want to immerse yourself in the richness of Italian artisanship—and just maybe bring home a treasure that’s unlike anything else in the world—you’ve come to the right place.
— Laura Morelli, PhD