Designer Travel Diary: Mark Cutler's Adventures at Italy's Largest Antiques Fair

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Our Chief Designer Mark Cutler has taken over our Instagram account and has recorded his adventures at the Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to catch the rest of his European travels! 

DAY ONE: A Sneak Peek 

Today was the first day of the Mercanteinfiera, one of the largest antique fairs in the world, located in Parma, Italy. Although not as big as other years, this fair promises a bumper crop of everything from museum-quality antiques to vintage clothing and rare books. I have my eye on a few pieces, such as a great flower motif chandelier and a pair of stunning metal urns, either of which would be perfect in mi casa.

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to gain access before the fair officially opened, while the stands were still being set up. There are thousands of stands spread throughout four or five large pavilions, so you can only imagine the chaos! As I surveyed the scene, I could tell by the end of the day that things were ready for tomorrow’s opening.

Tomorrow will start bright and early at 7:30 with a trip over to the venue and the beginning of a crazy day. I am all prepared with a measuring tape, camera and tip sheet.

DAY TWO: A Meet-Up, A City Walking Tour, and Lots of Shopping!

And day two has come to a close, featuring many hours of shopping and some tremendous finds!

Other American designers here include blog superstar Tobi Fairley, Denis McGaha from Dallas as well as John Call from New York City. I just had to get a group shot with them!

The venetian glass chandeliers were spectacular and kept drawing me back, but I have to say the enamel metal daisy chandelier was awfully tempting and would be a perfect thing over a sunny breakfast table. And since I’m in Italy, some of the floor-standing candlesticks definitely caught my eye.

For people with a budget, there were also many treasures to be had. A box of carved wooden tassels I found would make a great display—not to mention some unique vintage puppet heads.

The day ended with a city walking tour, where we were able to see the painted dome of a Cathedral by Correggio, a native son of Parma. His work is one of the high points of the Renaissance and its design deliberately distorts your sense of space. And it looks good now, but imagine what it was like in the 16th century!

There is a famous story about it that I just have to recount for you. Apparently after he finished painting it, the townspeople hated it and drove him out of town. Then, several years later, the church interviewed another artist, Titian, to repaint the dome. He told them to take the dome, tip it upside down and fill it with gold coins, and said, “That is what you should pay the man who painted this masterpiece.” After that, the city embraced this treasure, and the rest is history!

I leave Parma tomorrow. I think I have seen enough of the fair. Now off to will Bologna, then Verona and finally to Milan. I will keep posting the treasures that I find!

Follow Mark Cutler on our Instagram to stay updated on his travels, and find out what decor he’ll run into next! 

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