Sunbonnet Sue rows her gondola to Italy!

The lovely Sunbonnet Sue takes on the role of gondoliere today, and she certainly has the costume for it.  She’s looking quite sharp in sparkly woolen beribboned hat with its gay ribbons and a sharp red-and-white stripe shirt.   Her skirt is made from a small piece of embroidered fabric that I purchased in the souk in Damascus in the late 90’s.  (It makes me happy when I find an odd scrap of fabric and an old memory to go along with it!)   She definitely looks like she’s enjoying her tasty strawberry gelato cone, after all that hard work rowing!  You might note that I went back to Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials (see blogroll), where I found the Holbein stitch (a variation of the running stitch) to make Sue’s hair a little more interesting.  All in all, she’s a good-looking boatswain, and Sue’s taking her rowing as seriously as Giorgia Boscolo, who. in August 2010, became the first female gondoliere in Venice.  Sunny Sue is such a feminist!

Gondolas, which once served as a real means of transportation in Venice, at one time numbering around 10,000 in the Venice Lagoon.   But these days, with just under 500 gondolas licensed in Venice, they are mostly used to provide tourist rides over the Grand Canal although modern-day gondolieri have exchanged the long poles for more practical oars.  I’ve heard that the gondolas used to have little cabins or awnings on them, presumably to protect the passengers and their goods from the weather, but you know me! I prefer to believe that the cabins allowed privacy for lovers on their way to their private assignations.   I’m sure there’s a little bit of truth in both.

But while Venice is certainly a lovely city with sense of romance, I personally much prefer Rome.  What I especially love about Rome is that every time you walk around a corner, there’s something interesting, historic, or just plain fabulous to look at, to examine, and to learn about.   You can find gazillions of resources for visiting Rome, so I’m going to talk about what always interests me — quilting and quilt shops in Italy!   If you just love fabric and textiles in all of their shapes and forms, then check out Bassetti Tessuti on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.   Bassetti Tessuti is the perhaps the largest fabric store in Rome (could even be Italy, it’s that big!), and fabric lovers will think they’ve died and gone to fabric heaven.  Imagine all those luscious piles of fabric….Of course, it’s to be expected since Rome is almost as much of a fashion hub as Paris or New York.   You might be able to find some forms of cotton at Bassetti Tessuti that you can use for quilting, but I pretty sure you won’t want to cut into one inch of it….

But are there quilt shops?   Well, there is an Italian Assocation of Quilting and Patchwork — if you read Italian, you can check out (     I know of one, Il Mondo di Pezza ( on the Via Tommaso Arcidiacono, but I’ve never visited it.   For the dedicated quilter, it’s probably worth a visit just to find some cool Italian fabric for your quilts.  Il Mondo di Pezza is the likeliest place to find quilting cottons and notions as well as the likeliest place to find out what’s happening on the Italian quilting scene and meet some Italian quilters.   Hey, Italy’s not only about the food!   Okay, we really like the food too, but you know what I mean….

So, I miei amici (my friends in Italian), I hope you grab a cappuccino, a gelato or some other Italian treat, and find some inspiration in this blog to quilt, to embroider, to applique, or just to row your own boat the way you want to — with or without passengers.   To help you get inspired, I’m going to leave you with this beautiful lavender bougainvillea spreading its fabulously wonderful color along a fence.  Have a good one!