Episode #406 Fiore Italia
Today on Life In Bloom, it’s Fiore Italia (flower of Italy) where our projects are infused with facets of Italy and Italian culture. I’ll create an arrangement in a Della Robbia style and a bouquet with lemons – reflecting the famous Amalfi coast. Plus we’ll enjoy some Italian and food, spirits, and inspiration with my friend Chef Jenna.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ― Ruth Reichl
Fiori d ‘Italia – Flower of Italy
Today we’re living a Life In Bloom inspired by Italy. I love to include a theme when arranging flowers and I realized that many types of flower arrangements have origins in Italy. Whether it’s lemons from the Amalfi coast – or including fruit for a Della Robbia style compote – a simple addition or technique can shift the feeling of your flowers in a specific direction. The shift can be obvious, but many times it can be subtle, while still evoking the desired effect. However, I can’t theme a show on Italy without food, right? My friend Chef Jenna joins me for some fun with flowers and vegetables – and shares tips on authentic Italian cuisine from her mother-in-law in Magnago [man yago], Italy.
With that inspiration, let’s explore Fiore Italia- with flower arrangements that call back to Italy in both earthy and stylistic ways.”
Della Robbia Style Flowers
“Della Robbia refers to an artistic style that was characteristic of art produced by the fifteenth century Italian sculptor Luca della Robbia. As a decorative element in borders, his artwork often incorporated various fruits, usually oranges, apples, pears, and grapes. This fruit motif eventually found its way into live arrangements, mostly garlands and wreaths. These creations became known as “della Robbia” style. The most well-known expression of della Robbia may be found in Williamsburg, Virginia, during the holiday season. In the late 1930s, Mrs. Louise Fisher was in charge of flowers and Christmas decorations in Williamsburg and hit upon the idea of incorporating fresh fruit into the ordinary evergreen wreaths and swags of past Christmases, à la the Italian della Robbia artwork. Until that time, della Robbia decoration was limited primarily to well-to-do families. The new decorating style was so popular that visitors by the thousands flocked there with cameras in hand, snapping photos to use back home to craft their own della Robbia creations. Enthusiasm for the della Robbia style continues to enjoy popularity especially during the holiday season, but today I’ll show you how beautiful it can be at any time of year.” Della Robbia style- is another style of Fiore Italia- another way to arrange the Flower of Italy!
Della Robbia refers to an artistic style that was characteristic of art produced by the fifteenth century Italian sculptor Luca della Robbia (1400-1482) and other members of his family. As a decorative element in borders, their artwork incorporated various fruits, usually oranges, apples, pears, and grapes. This fruit motif eventually found its way into live arrangements, primarily garlands and wreaths. Such creations became known simply as “della Robbia.”
In the U.S. della Robbia found expression in the Colonial Revival movement of the early 20th Century. An article in a 1926 issue of House Beautiful, for example, states: “Of late years, besides the staple wreaths of plain greens to which we have long been accustomed, the holiday’s emblems have blossomed forth–or perhaps we should say fruited forth–with richness of color produced by the use of either natural or artificial fruit as an embellishment. This idea was undoubtedly suggested by the gorgeous Italian carvings and terra cottas of the Renaissance…”
Perhaps the most familiar expression of della Robbia today is found in Williamsburg, Virginia, during the holiday season. In the late 1930s, Mrs. Louise Fisher was in charge of flowers and Christmas decorations in Williamsburg and hit upon the idea of incorporating fresh fruit into the ordinary evergreen wreaths and swags of past Christmases, à la the Italian della Robbia artwork. Until that time, della Robbia decoration was limited primarily to well-to-do families. So popular was this new Williamsburg decorating style that visitors by the thousands flocked there with cameras in hand, snapping photos to use back home to craft their own della Robbia creations. In the succeeding decades, this della Robbia craze spawned dozens of how-to books, workshops, videos, and television demonstrations. The art form remains popular today.
Here’s some additional links to great examples of the Della Robbia Style
Lemons and Flowers
The Amalfi coast in Italy is famously known for growing lemons. Lemons there, have been cultivated since Roman times, on the terraced geography, holding the earth in place while providing the revered fruit to the enjoyment of generations. Lemons are the inspiration for decoration on beautiful ceramics as well as the key ingredient for limoncello, both plentiful in the area and beyond. Today I’m combining Lemons with flowers in an arrangement perfect for entertaining around this sunshine fruit.
One of the most popular dinnerware patterns available at Dollar Tree is Lemons- this Italian Inspired dinner ware- has a limited offering every year- and it sells out quickly- I was inspired to create an arrangement to go with this popular pattern- that includes Lemons- and inspired by the Almafi Coast in Italy! I hope you enjoy this fun take on Fiore Italia- with this table scape inspired by the these famous fruits and the coastline of Italy!
Recipe with GUEST Chef Jenna
You’ve met my friend Chef Jenna- in Season 1 of “Life in Bloom” Episode #103 The Romance of Flowers- where we create Rose-cello- in my kitchen- and talked about her Italian family History! Here’s a link to “The Romance of Flowers- On “Life in Bloom!
I wanted to share this wonderful cooking segment- where Chef Jenna and I discuss here Italian Family Heritage- and create some authentic ravioli- as well as my introduction to Sage Crisps- which I’ve shared as a Recipe in Bloom- Here’s a Link- to the Sage Crisps Recipe!
Watch J and Chef Jenna- as J creates an Italian Inspired Arrangement- using Italian Vegetables… this is FUN… Here’s the LINK!
I’ve known Chef Jenna Ariciadocono (Arch-ee-dee-a-co-no) and her husband Maurizio, owners of Amore Trattoria Italiana, for more than 10 years, now – how time flies – and deliciously so in this case. That’s why this earlier appearance with Chef Jenna is so wonderful- it’s one of my favorite memories - Chef Jenna shares her expertise in Italian cuisine with me and also assisted me with an impressive display of fresh vegetables and flowers, inspired by Italy.
Featured Flower: Cloni Ranunculus
The Ranunculus- featured in this segment were provided from my flower friends at Holland America Flowers, Sun Valley Flower Farms, and Kennicott Brothers Wholesale Florist!
Here’s a few links- where you can learn more about Ranunculus and the Cloni- or Italian Ranunculus is a great example of the Fiore Italia- Flower of Italy!
- Italian Cloni Ranunculus are available in many bright colors and shades
- Cloni Ranunculus are remarkable for their many petals and very large flowers
- Members of the genus are known as buttercups, spearworts and water crowfoots.
- American grown Italian Ranunculus are long lasting and will open up fully
- What makes the Cloni Ranunculus unique is that the bulbs used for these flowers are propagated in a laboratory. This in-vitro process, also called cloning of the bulbs, results in a much healthier plant without virus or diseases.
- Ranunculus prefer a cool environment and therefore may be hard to find during the summer and fall. – Thanks to the improved varieties, micro climates and modern growing techniques, ranunculus are now grown year round.
All Produce and Flowers Green Urn
Here’s another flower arrangement with an Italian flair that would be great for a themed party or entertaining… It’s an Arrangement that is created and designed with green vegetables and green grapes – also known as Bianco – or white grapes in Italy.
I’m utilizing Fresh Artichokes, Green Peppers, White Grapes, Limes, Bok Choy, and Celery as design elements- (They are standing in for flowers- I especially like the fun way- the Celery can be cut and then quickly resembles a big chunky rose. The Flowers that are featured in this project are Fuji (sometimes called Spider Mums… but I like Fugi Mums so much better… ) Green Hypericum Berries, and Green Trick Dianthus! This is a fun inspiration- I first saw on Pinterest- and I’m happy to give it try and share it with you today!
Vegetables as well as flowers- represent the Fiore d’ Italia – flowers of Italy!
Cocktails with Limoncello
I prepare and makes Limoncello from an old authentic Italian recipe- he found on Youtube. It’s an Authentic recipe that is created step by step by a wonderful Italian Grandma…. and then I’ll a cocktail recipe- (Italian Sangria- with the Limoncello as an ingredient! It’s Wonderful- I find myself making the Limoncello more frequently these days to give as a gift… it’s just that good!
Today I’m going to show you how to make the aperitif than originated on Italy’s Amalfi Coast – Limoncello. Then we’ll use the results as an ingredient in a unique sangria!
Limoncello Instructions for reference:
Step 1: Peel organic lemons- you can also use a microplane – to zest the lemons instead of peeling… I love to Microplane- so I do that instead of peeling- but you can decide which method you like the best!
Yes, organic is important! Conventional lemons tend to be coated in wax or other sealers that make it difficult to infuse the lemon flavor. You’ll get much more lemon flavor in your limoncello with organic lemons.
Use a microplane zester on the lemon being careful to avoid zesting the pith or white part of the peel.
[Or Use your vegetable peeler to remove the rind of the lemons, and then use a sharp knife to scrape out the pith—the white part inside of the peel of citrus fruit. Too much pith will make your limoncello bitter.]
Step 2: Infuse the lemon zest/or peels in alcohol. Fill a jar with your lemon zest/or peels, and then cover with the alcohol. Close the jar and shake daily to infuse to your taste.
Step 3: Once the mixture is infused properly, sweeten the limoncello to taste with simple syrup, strain, and then bottle. Chill and enjoy!
Strawberry & Limoncello Rosé Sangria Recipe!
YIELD – Serves 6
PREP TIME- 10 minutes
•3/4 cup limoncello
•1 cup fresh raspberries
•1 cup hulled and quartered fresh strawberries
•1 (750-ml) bottle chilled demi-sec rosé champagne
•1 medium lemon, thinly sliced, seeds discarded
1.In a large pitcher, combine the limoncello and the strawberries. Top with the chilled rosé champagne and stir in half of the lemon wheels.
2.Pour the sangria into ice-filled glasses. Scoop some fruit into each glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.
Molte grazie for watching this episode, inspired by our amore for the bellissimo influence of Italia. Until next time, for Life In Bloom, I’m J Schwanke. Arrivaderci!”