Let me tell you about a little gem of a shop I came across in Vicenza. It’s called L’Angolo Sublime (The Sublime Corner) and it stocks a wonderful selection of artisan soaps and toiletries, jams and chutneys, honey and sweets, olive oils, chocolate and drinks. Just the stuff I love to buy as presents for family, friends and myself.
The most amazing thing about the shop though is that every single product it sells has been made in an active Italian monastery following centuries-old traditions and techniques.
It was Monday morning and I was walking up the street leading to the splendid Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza, when a sign caught my eye. Even though my Italian continues to be at a rather basic level, I quickly deciphered ‘Typical Monastic Products’ written on it and hence had to go in.
My mind went into a flurry with fragments of information glimpsed in books or instilled in me by popular culture. Monasteries – these self-sufficient bodies of the different religious orders – would rely on the hard work of monks and nuns to produce the food, the natural remedies and the drink needed to support their inhabitants.
Recipes would be developed and perfected through the centuries with the resulting products still made today often by hand and using organic raw materials.
Curious to explore the shop, I stepped over the threshold and found myself in a room painted in a warm and welcoming yellow colour, with shelves neatly stacked with tempting products.
The owner, Lauretta, greeted me warmly and let me browse unperturbed. There was lots to see. I spent a good chunk of time reading the explanatory notes provided for each product and simply getting excited by the quality and variety on offer.
Extra large bars of chocolate waved at me.
Chutneys, honeys and jams tempted me, too.
Olive oils infused with herbs were hard to resist.
The most appealing thing for me was the history behind each item. The reassurance that it was made in a spiritual haven, using old techniques and genuine ingredients.
So different to the products mass churned by machines we are so used to buying.
In my broken Italian I asked Lauretta many questions about the different products. Among other things she told me that she stocks the produce of eleven Italian monasteries and then kindly provided me with the address of a monastery I can visit close to Verona.
After some thought, this is what I bought:
A jar of linden honey for my little daughter; a bottle of olive oil infused with thyme, rosemary, laurel, basil, sage and juniper for my husband; a handmade mimosa, milk and honey soap for myself.
Lauretta packed them beautifully and I left appreciating the opportunity I had to buy something special and quite unique.
I am sure I will be back for more.
Contra Apolloni, 11
Tel: 0444 546841
Disclaimer: The above article reflects my personal thoughts and impressions of my shopping experience at the above mentioned shop. The owner kindly allowed me to take pictures for my blog. I have not received payment or any other remuneration for publicising the shop on my blog.