As I have mentioned before it is a science to figure out what markets are where and when, markets are scheduled on a certain dates and times  and some markets feel like just pop up out of nowhere. They are the best ones because they are like a diamond in the rough. An unexpected pearl in the oyster, they feel special, secret and I have yet not to find amazing things at these “pop-up markets”.

On Sunday I prefer not to be sleeping and eating like most of Italy I hope and plan to be digging and thrifting. I set out this Sunday with very little plan to do so, but to have a long visit with a good friend in a nearby town… However my belief that if you go looking for inspiration in Italy, you find it, or rather it finds you, and in fact I found this great little market in front of my face on the way to the train station home.

As I walked toward the the train station from afar I could already make out piles and clutter. . .it was a market! A market that looked more like a garage sale. Even better. It was spartan, very DIY, not too much antique but tons of old. I was in heaven. The market was a fundraiser for the not so lucky in life so every stand supported a different cause. I was basically obligated to get my thrift on for the good of mankind.

I was hoping to find the iconic name Missoni on the tag once I unfurled this sweater, but what I found was even better “WHEN PERSONALITY BECOMES STYLE.” Here I discovered Carlo Colucci also a luxury brand that was founded in the 80’s and aimed at extravagantly designed sweaters and jackets. I was not in love with the colors, but now I have another cool name to be on the look out for! Although I left the cozy sweater behind I scored on more seasonally appropriate clothing like beautiful dresses, tattered jeans, bags, a vest and more. There was such a great mix of vintage iconic Italian and European brands, old-school US clothing and ethnic garments from all corners of the world.

My arm was already at full capacity when I wandered over to the last stand. I am not much for books but I was drawn in by a particular item. An ancient book beautifully restored by hand. I picked it up and the old man sitting next to her didn’t flinch. For a second i thought it was mine. Too good to be true. The book’s owner, who I now know is Anselmo, looked over at me losing myself in his book’s pages and kindly pointed to himself. He did not hear me at first because Anselmo is deaf. This did not stop us. He couldn’t wait to talk about his beloved book and I was eager to listen.

I do not even know how it happened, but speaking about the book entitled “The Catholic Woman” that was given to him on his First Communion, turned into exchanges regarding our mutual passion for The Virgin Mary or Madonna in all of her many depictions. He then shared that he was from Manarola, Cinque Terre, so near to me and had a wood shop. I lit up. I have photographed that wood shop and revisited many a woodworking day with my Grandpa Walt through the smell of his fresh cut wood. Little did I know hiding in that wood shop was a hand-picked collection of my girl Mary that streaked across generations. He pulled out his camera and I pulled out my iPhone and we continued to share.

He loved the creations I had made for Storie in Italy with intricate depictions of the Madonna and saints, and was as enchanted as me by  with the small medal pocket-saint statues I had among the jewelry! He shared his favorite of his many statues of the Virgin Mary and  only stopped once he had shown me his Madonna of Soviore the sanctuary above Monterosso where I live. Needless to say, she was beautiful.

As I said good-bye to Anselmo I wanted to tell him my name. After detailed communication about different Madonnas, sanctuaries and feast days, I could not get my name across. I almost gave up then…light bulb! I can spell in sign language, thank you Robert Down Elementary School. I spelled my name for Anselmo and he lit up, a smile that could not be captured in photograph, that split second of warm joy. He then almost immediately looked down and logically exchanged ‘business’ cards. He read my full name and I his. Anselmo Corvara: Museum of Peasant Art of the Cinque Terre. I cannot wait to pay him a visit!

Apart from the emotional recharge I took away from this impromptu encounter I also had quite a pop-up-market haul. Just a glimpse, everything is getting bathed and dialed.

Totally fell for this little pink perfume bottle from Athens, Greece, but the vendor would not let me have one without without the other. The same trick that got my lawn gnome collection started!