Antiques and architectural elements from Spain, Portugal, France and Italy; reproduction furniture and decorative accessories from across southern Europe; Spanish colonial reproductions and accent pieces from Peru
Mediterrania carries antiques and architectural elements from Spain, Portugal, France and Italy; reproduction furniture and decorative accessories from across southern Europe; Spanish colonial reproductions and accent pieces from Peru; and beautifully made and surprisingly affordable custom furniture from both Spain and Peru. We source antique furniture, accessories and reproductions in southern E
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"Conversations with Marc"
Mediterrania Founder and Owner Marc Gallante is widely traveled and as, over the span of decades, had some interesting conversations with locals over the years. You'll see some of his informal chats here on the Mediterrania FB page.
Here's one from a while back:
“TAXI RIDES WITH JESUS”
Much in the vein of the great Carlos Castaneda's, "Further Conversations with Don Juan", I'm thinking seriously of writing a book titled, "Taxi Rides with Jesus", chronicling the somewhat surrealistic conversations that I've enjoyed over the past 5 years with Jesus Quintana, a full-blooded Quechua Indian who acts as my driver when I'm down in Peru. Perhaps not coincidentally, Jesus is a native of a department in the Andes that is close to Carlos Castaneda's birthplace of Cajamarca, Peru.
During a recent trip to Lima, Jesus and I had the following exchange one night around 9:00 PM while we drove from the factory in Pachacamac back to my hotel in his 15 year old Subaru cab - a smoke-belching, dented, pock-marked monster with sprung Naugahyde seats that is literally bound together with baling wire and shiny silver duct tape:
Jesus: "Sr. Marc, may I ask you a very complicated and delicate question"?
Me: "Of course, Jesus. What is it?"
J: "In what part of Africa is Czechoslovakia located"?
Me: "Actually the country is now known as the Czech Republic, and its located in Eastern Europe, not in Africa".
J: "I don't mean to offend you, Sr. Marc, but that is not possible".
Me: "And why is that, Jesus"?
J: "Because my grandfather is a famous and well respected shaman among our people, and he himself told me that Czechoslovakia is located in Africa".
Me: "Forgive me Jesus, it is certainly not my intention to insult your grandfather or his wealth of knowledge, but I assure you that the country that used to be known as Czechoslovakia is located just north of Austria in Eastern Europe. In fact, I was in the capital city of Prague over a dozen times between 1985 and 1987. Has your grandfather traveled much outside Peru"?
J: "No, I don't believe he has ever left the Andean plateau, Sr. Marc. My grandfather says that he thinks much more clearly with less oxygen and therefore he prefers to live above 12,000 feet".
Me: "Your grandfather could make himself a fortune by giving seminars in logic to a lot of political hacks I know who live at sea level".
J: "Sr. Marc, pardon me, I don't wish to change the subject but I'm still not convinced by what you've said. Is it possible that they could have moved Czechoslovakia to Africa without your knowledge"?
Me: "I don't think so, Jesus. Why do you ask"?
J: "Well, clearly, any country that can change its name whenever it feels like it could secretly move itself to another continent".
Me: "Good point, Jesus. I hadn't thought of that"...
From Marc's Blog:
As a dealer, I like to watch the "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS, primarily because I enjoy pitting what knowledge I have gained over the years with the experts that appear on the show. However, there is one thing that really sticks in my craw about the "Roadshow": almost without fail the experts on the show will admonish people not to touch, clean or restore a piece if they wish to maintain its value. And generally speaking, that's sound advice. However, close to 20 years in the antiques business has taught me that "restoration" is a relative term.
For example, over the years I've found dozens of stunning 17th and 18th century decorative painted pieces in the northern Spanish regions of Old Castile, La Rioja, Aragon and Catalonia that were covered in the 19th or 20th century with oil base house paint. You see, in the latter half of the 18th century good decorative painting came to be regarded as "frivolous" and a "sin against God". Therefore in order to avoid problems with Mother Church, many owners of fine painted furniture simply opted to paint over the original decoration. Presto, change-o, problem solved!
According to the very narrow view taken by experts on the "Roadshow", in restoring a painted piece by stripping away later 19th century house paint to reveal the original period painting, we have "detracted" from its value. For obvious reasons, I strongly disagree with that stance, and believe that we are adding to the value of these wonderful painted antiques.
Some valuable information from Owner Marc Gallante:
“Prima patina” is the term used by many Italian antiques dealers, (primarily those located in the north central regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio) to describe the finish on a period piece of furniture that is untouched (i.e., prior to any posterior restoration, superficial cleaning or waxing)...
As most of our clients already know, at “Mediterrania” we have always purchased all of the southern European antiques offered at our Scottsdale, AZ and Santa Fe, NM showrooms completely unrestored. In so doing, we obtain the most competitive prices possible and are able to ascertain what, if anything, has been done to the pieces over the course of their lives.
In addition, by sourcing completely "raw" pieces we are able to carry out any restoration needed at our workshop in Catalonia, Spain in strict accordance with our goal of taking the pieces back to their original, or near original, state. In essence, that is the true definition of "restoration".
We source antique furniture, accessories and reproductions in southern Europe in exactly the same manner as do our Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian counterparts. For that reason, at Mediterrania you have the opportunity to purchase authentic period pieces at price points similar to those of reproduction furniture.
Since Mediterrania is the only U.S. antiques dealer that maintains its own restoration and cabinetry shop in Spain, virtually no other company in America has such a direct conduit to southern Europe as we do.
Our Virtual Tour of Mediterrania is quite spectacular (thanks, web guys). You can see it here:
Mediterrania Antique , Old World, Furniture Scottsdale AZ Mediterrania Antique , Old World, Furniture Scottsdale AZ
Aragón: Of Kings and Painters (part 3)
Period country furniture from Aragón was most often crafted in pine, the most abundant wood found in the region. Antique furnishings and doors produced at higher altitudes in the Pyrenees region of the province of Huesca were most often fashioned in red pine, a beautifully tight-grained and dense wood. Those pieces that hailed from the lower elevations of the more arid provinces of Zaragoza and Teruel tended to be made in honey pine.
The deceptively simple oblique carving on most fine Aragonese pieces, the superb wrought iron work and the lustrous patinas of the woods make antiques from this region among the most sought-after of treasures by top Spanish dealers.
Aragón: Of Kings and Painters (part 2)
The medieval town of Sos del Rey Católico in the province of Huesca was the birthplace of King Ferdinand of Aragón, husband to Queen Isabelle of Castile and León. Located near the foothills of the Pyrenees, Sos is truly one of the most picturesque villages in northern Spain. Every cobblestone street and alleyway that surrounds the Sada Palace (Ferdinand’s ancestral home) speaks of history. One can easily envision the candle-lit late night councils of war that the young king must have celebrated here with his queen and the noblemen of Aragón while planning his next battle in the seemingly eternal struggle against the Moorish invaders who dominated much of the Iberian Peninsula for 774 years.
Born in the tiny rural village of Fuendetodos (province of Zaragoza) on March 30, 1746, Goya is considered one of the most renowned of Spain’s master painters and the Father of Modern Art. Over the 82 years of his life Goya rose from impoverished obscurity to become court painter during the reign of the Spanish monarch, Charles III, a position that he maintained throughout the life of Charles IV and on into the monarchy of Ferdinand VII.
As the new millennium dawned at the end of the 18th century, Goya fell prey to a severe illness that left him deaf and eventually alienated him completely from the ostentation of the Spanish Court. It was during this dark and depressing period that Goya produced his famous “Black Paintings”. As any visitor to Madrid’s Prado Museum will attest, this series of shocking monumental oils depicts in terrible detail the horrors perpetrated by Napoleon’s troops as they took Spain’s capital city.
Another excerpt from Marc Gallante's extensive travels:
Aragón: Of Kings and Painters (part 1)
Bordered on the north by the towering snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains; to the west by the open plains and golden wheat fields of Old Castile; to the east by the gently rolling hills of Catalonia; and to the south by the wildly surrealistic cliffs and forests of New Castile and the high country of Levante, the region of Aragón in north-central Spain boasts the most varied topography on the Iberian Peninsula.
Comprised of the three provinces of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel, Aragón has traditionally been a quiet underpopulated agricultural region in which most country folk still depend upon farming, livestock and forestry for their livelihoods. Interestingly, despite the area’s relative poverty, it gave birth to both the first king of what would one day become a more or less unified Spain, Ferdinand of Aragón, and perhaps Spain’s greatest painter, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.
MARC TREASURE HUNTING
After your meal, perhaps a little dessert?
"Bar Ricchi" (located in Piazza Santo Spirito)
Piazza Santo Spirito 8/9R
50124 Florence Tel: 055 215 864
- For real gelato "conoscenti", Bar Ricchi is the place to go. "Vivoli" (located near Piazza Santa Croce) might be the most internationally known gelateria in the city, but the locals maintain that their gelato is much too sweet. In my opinion "Bar Ricchi" has the best gelato in Florence, bar none. I used to grab a gelato there after lunch, another in the late afternoon and again after supper (of course, that's when I looked much like the Pillsbury Doughboy).
Continuing to share Owner Marc Gallante's extensive experience, here's something he wrote aobut the best eateries in Florence:
My favorite restaurants in Florence
Most tourists in Florence spend the majority of their time on the monumental side of the Arno River visiting the Duomo, the Baptistry, the Uffizzi Gallery, the Accademia, etc. However, for those who really know the city well, in many ways the opposite side of the Arno (known as the “Oltrarno” area of the city) is the true Florence.
Since sampling the local cuisine is half the fun of European travel, following is a list of my three favorite restaurants on the Oltrarno side of the river, as well as what I believe is the best “gelateria” in all of Florence:
"Alla Vecchia Bettola" (two short blocks from Porta Romana)
Viale Vasco Pratolini
50124 Florence Tel: 055 224158
- This is one of my absolute favorite spots - simple Tuscan cooking, exquisitely prepared to bring out all the rich flavors of the ingredients. My favorite meal consists of "crostini" as an antipasto (a liver-based, incredibly tasty, sloppy-joe-like topping served on thin slices of toasted peasant bread), "penne alla bettola" (penne pasta served in a tangy, slightly spicy, creamy tomato-based sauce) and "bistecca alla fiorentina con insalata" (sliced and grilled "Florentine beef chop" served with salad). This meal is to die for!
"Da Ruggero" (approx 5 blocks up Via Senese from Porta Romana)
Via Senese, 89-R
50124 Florence Tel: 055 220542
- Long before it became a popular trattoria for locals, "Ruggero" was a butcher shop (check out the spiral patterns of stone that are laid into the floors). As befits its history, the grilled meats here are absolutely superb. My favorite cut is the "lombatina di vitello" (grilled white veal chop). The "lombatina" with a fresh salad and grilled Tuscan veggies is my idea of a perfect meal.
"Trattoria Omero" (7 or 8 minute cab ride from Porta Romana)
Via Pian dei Giullari 47,
50125 Florence Tel: 055 220 053
- Situated in the hills above the Oltrarno side of Florence, "Omero" is one of the best trattorias in the area. Located in what used to be a separate village from Florence, it is specialized in traditional Tuscan gastronomy and is one of those simple country restaurants with superb cooking that began as a bakery / deli back in the 19th century. My favorite pasta dishes here are the "penne strascicate" (whole wheat pasta in a creamy tomato sauce), and the “pappardelle al lepre” (large flat noodles in hare sauce). The traditional “bistecca alla fiorentina” (Florentine chop) is terrific, and the “pollo schiacciato” (butterflyed chicken cooked with oil and herbs between two white hot bricks) is a house specialty. The veggies, salads and desserts (particularly "crema bavarese") are all excellent.
As you can see from the images below, our skilled craftsman have proven time and again that no challenge is too great. Provide us with a picture, a drawing, or a concept, and our talented artisans will hand craft a custom piece to your exact specifications. Since our custom pieces are manufactured in Spain and Peru, please allow 14 to 16 weeks for international shipping. Contact us today for a quote for your custom piece of furniture.
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Marc Gallante, Owner of Mediterrania wrote this a while back and we're sharing it with you now.
WHAT MAKES AN ANTIQUE, “ANTIQUE”?
The law tells us that an authentic antique must be at least one hundred years of age. However, age is not the only determinant factor as to whether a piece should be considered a true ”antique”: artistic value and merit, uniqueness, historic importance, condition, etc., are all factors that must be taken into account.
Structural integrity, or the degree to which a piece has been restored, may also be used to determine its value and authenticity. As to the impact of restoration on the value of an antique, carefully restoring a piece to its original or near-original state actually lends value to it. That, in fact, is the true meaning of “restoration”: the return of a piece to its original or near original state.
Antiques dealers who do it the old-fashioned way usually source pieces in their “raw” state prior to restoration. In most cases that means prior to cleaning and/or stripping, re-gluing loose joints and waxing. As much as one would like to think that a specific piece is totally “pure”, it is rare indeed that an item crafted in the 16th, 17th, 18th or even 19th century has not undergone at least some degree of restoration.
As a matter of course, most reputable dealers will freely volunteer information to their clients regarding any parts of an antique that have been replaced or restored. A prospective buyer should always ask a dealer if he knows, what, if anything, has been replaced or restored.
Short of carbon dating, one must carefully consider the construction, hardware, materials, style and provenance, as well as one’s own experience and existing documentation on similarly-styled items in order to determine the circa date of a piece with any degree of accuracy.
How can I distinguish an authentic antique from a reproduction?
Although there are many ways to determine whether one is looking at a true antique or a cleverly crafted reproduction, here are a few of the most common methods.
WHAT MAKES AN ANTIQUE, “ANTIQUE”?
1. Does the condition of the piece look “too perfect”? In other words, does it show signs of the usual wear and tear that any piece of furniture would suffer over the course of its life? Additionally, are the areas of wear in the places where one would normally have expected scratches, blows or cuts to occur (tabletops, edges, feet, and around keyholes)?
2. Does the “distressing” (character markings and signs of wear) on the piece in question seem too mechanical, repetitive or heavy-handed? If so, the piece is almost certainly a reproduction. There is nothing more difficult than taking a new piece of wood and aging it convincingly to look like a true antique that has worn or been distressed “naturally”.
3. Do the carved details seem too crisp or sharp? Run your fingertips over the raised ridges of carving: after years of use and wear they should be slightly worn and rounded rather than sharp.
4. Is the finish too “homogenous”? Does it look like it has been uniformly applied (both in color and in “patina”)? Any authentic antique will show asymmetric variations in color, patina and wear.
5. Does the finish have “depth” or is it “flat”? On most authentic antiques that have been sealed and waxed, the light is never reflected off the surface but rather appears to come up from beneath the finish.
6. Are the materials used in the construction of the piece authentic? Composite materials like “chip core” or “medium density fiber” are 20th century inventions. A word of caution: although the use of veneers came into vogue in the late XVIII and early XIX centuries, they were much thicker than those used in today’s modern furniture manufacturing. The use of plywood backs or shelving is a clear sign of recent manufacture or inferior quality restoration.
7. Is the construction of the piece in consonance with its purported age? For example, on most period cabinetry pieces the backs were almost always laid up vertically rather than horizontally. Frequently they were made of thicker and rougher planks than the rest of the case, and were almost never finished to the same degree as the sides, front or top. Another example might be the use of single versus multiple plank tops: XVII and early to mid XVIII century tables were almost always crafted with wide single plank tops.
8. Are the proportions of the piece delicate and harmonious? Centuries ago the proportions used by fine craftsmen were perfect and flowed beautifully. Over the past 30 years I have only met a handful of European craftsmen who were capable of drawing up and reproducing a
WHAT MAKES AN ANTIQUE, “ANTIQUE”?
piece of furniture as well as it might have been done by their
9. Do the hinges, nails, lock plates, hasps and locks appear to be authentic and hand-wrought or sand-cast, versus stamped or mold cast? Have the original spring locks been replaced?
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