Soup For The Soul

Guest Blog by Iolanda Principe

An Italian soup tureen, a Pagnossin Treviso vintage ironstone ‘zuppiera’, which my home has inherited doesn’t yet have a worthy resting place but I imagine it will settle as my grief also settles…

My Mamma Rosina brought this tureen with her from Italy in 1963, having had it in her family for more than one generation. My childhood memory of it was how it came out on special occasions brimming with either stracciatella or beef broth with meatballs. I hadn’t seen it or thought about it for decades. Imperfect from time and use, it is still pleasantly attractive with its simple, elegant design – quite unlike some of the vintage designs (or even modern ones) seemingly enjoyed by my fellow countryfolk!

My best memory of it though was how the now faded pastel sketchy roses inspired my love of drawing as I tried to copy them endlessly. I was particularly excited also by the cherub logo on the underside of the tureen. To this day I have a love of angels and Gods with winged feet. As I’m out of touch with contemporary earthenware, I was surprised and delighted to discover that Pagnossin is still in business coming up to a century, with delightful and colourful present-day offerings.

The passing of my mother came abruptly and caught me completely off-guard, despite her advancing years and my regular presence in her life. Neither gave me reliable forewarning. I was then caught in a downward spiral of regret and longing. Although dismissingly unsentimental about objects, I now find myself clinging to what has been left behind. Had I listened carefully enough to all her stories? What did I really know about her? Did I know the history of every precious belonging? She loved and took strength from her modest home and believed she was bestowed with the greatest wealth – her love for family, her faith, her culture and the representations of each in her home and bountiful garden, all of which had kept her company during the loneliest phase of her life.

Anyway, the tureen will proudly find a permanent place in my home, as will the crocheted fine cotton bed linen trim made by my Zia Iolanda – my namesake aunt who raised my father when he was orphaned. The delicate handiwork of more than one hundred years old was treasured by my mother who, shortly before her death, told its story to her women’s community group ‘Noi Donne’. A hand-made linen trim…I could be mistaken but that is something that has not had purpose or popularity for a very long time and probably never will again. It doesn’t matter. It was only ever meant to be admired and loved, like those we hold dear.

Dr Iolanda Principe is a consultant and researcher on health services, information and communication services and access and equity for vulnerable populations.

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