FYI: ItalianNotebook is selling the items mentioned in this note on our online store, ItalianConnections.
Given the amount of products that compete for our attention (and money), one tends to filter out all those things that fall into the “geegaws, tchotchkes, and whatchamajiggy” categories. That said, in this case the brightly decorated kiosk-cart was difficult to ignore.
Closer inspection confirmed that these items were no simple plastic baubles. Or rather, for plastic baubles they were obviously made with the same amount of care to detail and quality that Italians put into finely crafted shoes or expertly handmade jewelry.
The astounded look on my face prompted the gentleman to answer my unasked question.
“My father. He began making miniatures and scale reproductions in 1975. One thing led to another, and here we are, worldwide leaders in miniatures. We now have international licensing from hundreds of brands for thousands of products as you can see.”
I kept on examining the details, down to the perfect labelling and use of materials. The mortadella (bologna ham) looked so real you would have eaten it.
“But they’re refrigerator magnets,” I said, still incredulous of the 2 to 3 inch sized reproductions.
“Yep, it’s frivolous, but someone has to do it.. heheh. Attenzione pero’.. (Careful though..) they are all exact reproductions of their full scale cousins that you find in any grocery store in Italy. And look, the magnet is neither exposed nor visible. See, in this one we make each individual piece of “pasta” inside the “package” to scale too. And here, this mineral water, that’s actual liquid inside, same with all bottles, and it has a “screw on” cap.”
Here’s the original “full scale” version, for comparison.
It was obvious that the gentleman in front of me, named Valter as I was to find out, was none other than the Willy Wonka of miniatures and reproductions. I started to imagine his “factory” with oompa-loompa assistants singing while they work. No such thing. It turns out that just like any great business, he and his family got to where they are with help from a great team, lots of hard work, and passione to spare.
Needless to say, I immediately began selecting pieces, pushing the “Thou shall not buy geegaws” commandment out of my mind.
Only in Italy.
The following photos are of some real items followed by Valter’s “magnetic” miniatures.