Join our mailing list

A Delightful trip to Verona to choose materials for our marble and stone fireplaces.
2 October 2015

This week Geoff and I headed to Verona for the Marmomacc marble fair to choose materials for our Bespoke and reproduction marble and stone fireplaces and for the restoration of our Antique chimneypieces.

Italy, the spiritual and physical home of the Ancient world, is at the very core of the country house aesthetic which lies within the heart of Jamb. Like New York, you are subjected to sensory overload from the second you land : food, fashion, architecture and of course, language.

Geoff is one of my oldest school friends and now runs the warehouse at Jamb. We arrived at our rather hum drum hotel and I looked on in astonishment as Geoff broke into what seemed like fluent Italian. I have known him for thirty eight years and had no idea of this hidden talent ! Another man crush was about to begin!

We headed straight to the centre of Verona ( Geoff now chatting endlessly to the taxi driver in Italian. )

The centre of Verona is dominated by the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the Arena and it has stood proudly immovable for 2,045 years. Function and beauty combined, it makes the heart bleed for the monuments being destroyed by the Taliban and Isis in the Middle East.

After a very enjoyable lunch we wandered to the Museo Maffeiano. Charming beyond charming, it was established by the erudite Scipione Maffei ( 1675- 1755) in the early to mid 18th century and soon became an obligatory stop on The Grand Tour.

Wonderful Classic design and a dizzying collection of artefacts

Like Soane in the latter part of the 18th century this purpose built colonnaded structure houses Maffei’s carefully collated collection of ancient artefacts. Frankly the museum is as close to heaven on earth as I can imagine. So many exquisite carvings including this Roman sepulchre for a child. Beautifully fashioned and quite poignant.

Exquisite carvings at the Museo Maffeiano

From there we went to the Castelvecchio Museum where ancient meets modern in the cleverly designed structure. The Cangrande I della Scala, the 14th century ruler of Verona sits on his horse, in his castle of glass.

A sculpture of the Cangrande I della scala, on his horse

Stunning oils and sculpture from Medieval to Renaissance are set amongst modern works. I loved the dramatic use of light and dark ( chiaroscuro) in this painting of Saint Paul the Hermit by Mattia Pretti.

A favourite work of art in the Castelvecchio

The following day we headed to the marble show. The scale is monumental and at times close to overbearing. Travertine a timeless classic, favoured by the Romans could be found in abundance. Each time we felt we had arrived at the pinnacle another block of marble would confront us to challenge what we had seen before.

Travertine stone

The Grand Antique quarry has just been reopened after seventy years. This extraordinary material with ancient pedigree is probably amongst my favourite materials in the world. Breches, stones, bardiglios and countless samples were to be found.

One of my favourite marbles that we will use.

That evening we met with my dearest Italian friend and antique dealer Naj Menozzi to sample “bollito misto”- delicious cuts of boiled meat served with amazing sauces. Again Geoff waxed lyrical in Italian and we all recounted the good old days of antique dealing over bottles of Lambrusco ( that only seems to make sense in its native land !)

The following morning we headed straight to the Giarino Giusti. A garden of total perfection. The vibrant green of Cyprus and box gave a perfect tonal contrast to the burnt Siena of the buildings.

Total perfection in the Giardino Giusti

Statuary and Roman antiquities both strategically placed to punctuate the gardens greenery and creating the aura of forgotten ancient land.

Roman sculpture in Giardino Giusti

And then it was time to go. We took a terrifying journey with a taxi driver seemingly frustrated with an unfulfilled Formula One career. As he sped us through the city we passed the Roman gate, Porta Borsai, its overwhelming beauty left us both longing to return ……..