Not the cylindrical, furry, tunneling subterranean kind but the word element in Moleskine, Milan’s iconic little black notebook. Co-opted as a travel journal, planner, diary and sketchbook the notebook with the famous blank pages of ivory-colored paper is waiting to be filled with your thoughts.
Each notebook page is kept in place with a ribbon bookmark and then collectively tucked away between the covers with a signature elastic band. Used by Picasso, van Gogh, Matisse and Hemingway moleskine notebooks have a devoted following worldwide and can now be found in a variety of covers, colors and digital versions for a new generation of artists and thinkers.
Bring or buy your Moleskine on your next trip to Milan and meet with other like-minded writers and sketchers while sipping an espresso at the Moleskine Cafe in Milan’s Brera district. The cafe, art gallery, store and library is described as a clean-lined, minimalistic space designed with neutral colors “like the pages of a Moleskine notebook” waiting to inspire you to tell your story.
I wrote a version of this post in 2014 after reading The Medici Effect a book that explores the idea that in the intersection of different fields, disciplines and cultures, there’s an abundance of extraordinary new ideas to be found. Drift that back a few centuries to the Italian Renaissance with the Medici of Florence, a dynasty that encouraged artisans and scientists to cross disciplines and exchange ideas and because of this the world experienced a cultural rebirth that changed the course of history.
I often find inspiration and creative change in diversity and the least expected places. Learn broadly, learn often and keep a curious attitude are my resolutions for every New Year. So as before my New Year’s resolution is to follow Medici thinking and the James T. Kirk Starship Enterprise style of discovery and boldly go cross-currenting into the New Year.
No it’s not a basketball team but a slicing machine and on a recent trip to Italy to visit our Italian friends in Umbria, I was surprised to see a piece of kitchen art prominetely displayed in their renovated family farmhouse that brought me back home in Indiana. It was a Berkel (Model B) meat slicer from La Porte, Indiana about 30 minutes from where I live.
Butcher W.A.Van Berkel began producing meat slicing machines in the late 1800’s in Holland. The quality and innovation of his design quickly differentiated him from his competitors. The concave blade and machine movement allowed a more precise cut especially favored by European meat markets. Berkel slicers became renowned throughout Italy and to this day are favored.
The proper slicing of salumi and salami in Italy is both an art and a science and the Italians saw the benefit of having the right machine to do it. Proper slicing is essential to maintain the true flavor components of the meat. Meat slicing aficionados believe that a sleek thin slice of salami allows the real true flavor of the artisan product to come through. Emilio Mitidieri, a maestro Italian slicer in San Francisco sources and refurbishes vintage Berkel meat slicers from Italy which were manufactured in Indiana during the 1920’s. The Berkel slicer Indiana (Model B) with a floral fly-wheel made in La Porte Indiana remained in production for a decade. Their quality, historical innovation and art nouveau style make them highly collectible and many remaining are being restored here and in Italy for those who would like to preserve a piece of industrial history.