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Allessandra Letteri of Tuscany painted this trompe l’oeil for Romanoli.

THE COLLECTOR: Lou Romanoli of Greenville
WHAT I LIKE: Pottery that is made just for me that I can hand down to future generations
INSPIRATION: The idyllic countryside of Tuscany and Umbria
FAVORITE ARTIST: Antonio Margaritelli. We are both 78 and love the colors and traditions of Italian pottery.. 

Top Left, clockwise: Romanoli and his golden retriever, Trucco, pose with oil jars that were painted by Italian artist Antonio Margaritelli.; This colorful wine jug pays tribute to Romanoli’s uncle, who introduced his nephew to Italy.; One of Margaritelli’s oil jars includes the words “Casa Toscana,” which is what Romanoli named his Greenville home.

 

Each year, Lou Romanoli spends a few months in Pitigliano, the tiny village that is his ancestral home in Tuscany. 

On a bike trip in the Italian countryside, he pedaled into the hills of Umbria and the town of Deruta, where pottery has been produced since the Middle Ages. Romanoli was immediately smitten by the vivid blues and gold of Deruta pottery. 

He began collecting custom pieces, each marked with the date the pottery was made and the name of the artisan. He ordered large oil jars, each inscribed with the name of a loved one. He asked his friend, kitchen designer Pete Giorgi, to draw plans for a glass cabinet framed in cherry wood to display his collection.

In all, Romanoli has amassed more than 140 pieces, including an umbrella stand, a tea pot and a set of butter dishes.

He had been collecting for a number of years when he met Antonio Margaritelli, an independent pottery maker who works only in the authentic, earth-infused colors that were available to artisans in the 16th century. Margaritelli makes unique pieces for Romanoli, including the jewels of his collection, two oversized ornate urns.

“Now I collect Margaritelli and only Margaritelli,” he says.