Our New Year's Wish
Two years ago, as 2013 drew to a close, we wrote to you a “year in review” letter. 2013 was indeed a momentous year for us as we closed Bella Italia, the retail store we had opened in Bethesda a decade earlier. Our letter focused on the future, though, about our hopes and dreams and our vision for a new Bella Italia, which would eventually become Via Umbria.
In that New Year’s letter we vowed that
“2014 will see the rise of a new Bella Italia, built upon the strong foundation of loyal customers and supporters, talented and passionate artists and craftsmen and our own Bella Italia family who has toiled daily to share with you the Italy that we know and love.
“While we believe that Bella Italia is more than a store – it is a community of those who love the Italian experience and who want to experience it together both here in the US and at its source in Italy (especially Umbria!) – we also continue to believe that the experience is that much better when we can share the joys of Italy together. As the Bella Italia family.”
We went on to speak of our ambitions, to “look for a new home, a Bella Italia where you can once again shop for authentic hand painted ceramics and hand crafted, small batch olive oils, but also a place where you can drop in for a bite to eat or enjoy a glass of wine imported from our winemaker friends and neighbors in Umbria. A place where you can relax and enjoy the slow life for a little while in the company of those who share your desire not just to live, but to savor and enjoy it. For while it is true that home is where the heart is, the heart needs a place to call home.”
We closed on a note of hopefulness, that our search would find such a place. “We call that place Bella Italia and we invite you to join us in 2014.”
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As 2016 draws near, we are writing to you once again, looking back on 2015 with gratitude and thankfulness. We believe that we have delivered on our 2013 promise to create that place which we spoke and dreamed of. Some things have changed. We call it Via Umbria now. And it’s not in Bethesda it’s in Georgetown. A place that has welcomed us with open arms. A place we can truly call home.
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The other day our good friend Lodovico Palermi sent us a link to a “made in Italy” promotional video that is making its way around FaceBook. It is a powerful video, and when I saw it my skin broke out in goosebumps. In 90 short seconds the director was able to convey the beauty and feeling of contentment and comfort that surrounds so much of the Italian experience. And the video’s tag line expressed so well and succinctly the importance of supporting Italian craftsmen and artisans – “we turn the best ingredients into extraordinary products.”
Yes, that is the special magic of “made in Italy.” But we see our mission at Via Umbria slightly differently than that. Here in Georgetown, at our farmhouse in Umbria and in the virtual reality of the internet, we use those extraordinary products to create and share unforgettable experiences. To create a community of people connected by those experiences. When you watch the video you do see beautiful images and extraordinary products – olive trees, cheeses, meats, pasta being made. But you react, or at least we react to and identify with the gazes, one character making eye contact with another, sharing a secret, sharing a love, sharing an experience that weaves them together and connects them to something wonderful, something beautiful.
In the four short weeks that Via Umbria has been re-opened, we have had the fortune to be able to share that something wonderful, that something beautiful with many of you. Discover | Savor | Share is what motivates and drives us. It is the thing of which we dreamed when we wrote to you in 2013. And we are fortunate indeed to have the opportunity to pursue this dream in 2016 and beyond.
Happy holidays to you and your families.
Bill and Suzy