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122 CSD


treasures made by artisans with no other representation in the United States. Two shipping containers later, a store was born. “In Italy, America is an icon. Artisans are so proud to have their work sold here, and Americans appreciate the beauty and workmanship,” Donatella says.


The Hidden Countship is full of handmade Italian jewelry, paper, linens, ceramics, art and clothing—beautiful things that would require an extra suitcase for the return trip from Italy. Hidden though it is, the bou- tique quickly became the go-to gift store for Italophiles. The


della Portas have long family traditions of art patronage and preservation, and both harbor a deep reverence for Italian craftsmanship. Visit The Hidden Countship and you’re likely to be greet- ed by Donatella herself (and Arturo, the dog, if you’re lucky). Notice the stack of vibrant silk scarves on the table in front of you. These are the work of artist Ferdinando Ambrosino, who visited Charleston because of his friendship with the della Portas. Ambrosino’s pure silk scarves are produced in Italy according to ancient methods; pigments for the colors are


made in the same way they were made for fine Renaissance paintings. The artworks on the scarves are reproductions of paintings that depict the artist’s favorite Italian tableaus. The result of the collaboration is a wearable work of Italian art. The Hidden Countship is housed in a historic Charleston Single House, so you move through the rooms from front to back. In the front room, you’ll also find one-of-a-kind jewelry made from bronze coins that date to the Roman Empire. The della Portas bought the coins at auction, then had them framed in gold by Umbrian


goldsmith Marco Dominici. Not to be missed are the glass reproductions of ancient Tuscan and Etruscan jewelry made by Marcello Fontana in Caprese, the town where Michelangelo was born. In the former dining room,


a large farmhouse table holds an impressive collection of fine table linens, napkins and towels by Pardi and Pascucci, some of which are made exclusively for The Hidden Countship. Also made exclusively for the store are ceramics and tableware by Ceramiche Rometti in Umbria. Past the stairs, you’ll discover Italian handmade stationery


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