The Adventurine Posts Diary From Italy: Bea Bongiasca

A pre-virus portrait of Bea Bongiasca surrounded by an image of her street in Milan, her cat Momo with one of her rings and some home cooking. Photo courtesy

Jewelry News

Diary From Italy: Bea Bongiasca

Cats, cooking and a circuitous route home to Milan

by Guest Contributor

At the end of the first week in March, signs of Spring were just beginning to show as I took the train from Milan’s Central Station to Switzerland with only a ski jacket and helmet to my name. My best friend and I were some of the few people to be travelling that afternoon, but our preventative pink masks turned heads nonetheless. While I was on high alert, since we were to join my parents in the mountains, the city at large seemed not to have noticed the sickness that had taken root.

After a fantastic day of sunshine and snowboarding the next day we headed for dinner at our favorite restaurant to celebrate my mum’s birthday with a healthy serving of raclette. As we finished the last of our boiled potatoes, the phones of the clientele, almost entirely fellow Milanese, started to squeal. The news had broken that the next day Milan would be closed until April, along with several other Northern Italian cities. I tried to compute what this would mean but it was something that was going to take a while to process as it implied changes in every aspect of our lives from family, to our jobs, to basic travelling from a to b.

I felt a huge sense of gratitude for the loving and stable environment I found myself at in such an unprecedented and disorienting time. My good fortune did not stop there as my colleague was able to collect all of the jewelry that we had in the office and in our Boutique, enabling us to continue to ship them to our customers and keep our e-shop open. The atelier where they make my jewelry, in another part of Italy, was also open for a few weeks after the lockdown but now the government has since decided to close all non-essential businesses until at least mid-April. On the plus side, the couriers are still functioning as they are essential to so many business and I am very grateful that I am still able to share what I create thanks to their services (otherwise it would just be me in a room full of my jewels and no one to give them to).

Another stroke of luck, my British Shorthair Ichigo and Britsh Longhair Momo were also with us in the mountains, they were fundamental to staying sane that first crazy week. Pets are perfect for lending a sense of perspective and whenever I felt overwhelmed after a prolonged period of watching the news, I would distract myself trying to improve the relationship between my new usurping kitten and her older British Shorthaired nemesis or taking photos of them with Snow app that has funny filters for cats.

Detail of Bea’s cat with one of her rings and in her arms. Photo courtesy

Despite my cozy situation in Switzerland, after two weeks I felt pulled back to my hometown. Leaving behind my parents and my cats behind, I made a long and careful journey back over the border to a country that had undergone a sea change in my two-week absence.

At first, it was heartbreaking to return to find my city emptier than in the middle of August. My neighborhood, the famously bustling design district Brera, was eerily silent without the motorini, and the former Italian friendliness between strangers had been replaced by suspicious glances and people crossing the street to the avoid one another wearing masks. Yet, in the end this emptiness outside is a reflection of the hard work we are doing by staying inside to stop over country from an even greater sadness. Therefore, it is not sad to me anymore that no one is outside, it is positive and proof that we are all doing our part to put an end to this.

Bea’s street in Milan and some home cooking. Photo courtesy

As a small business and as an industry we will obviously be affected by this crisis. Whilst there is a lot of negativity in this moment, there is equally a lot of compassion and sense of unity keeping us together. Personally, I have been very heartened by the support from people all over the world. My jewelry is purposefully playful, my colors and stones are chosen carefully to bring the wearer joy. I am delighted to be able to provide a small bit of light heartedness and beauty to people at such a sad time in our history.

I hope that we will meet in Milan when this is finally over and I’m happy to say that now after one month of lockdown, we are starting to see the results and things are getting better <3

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