Ivana Carpineti: Not a Garden Variety Florist

story and photos by Lisa Emig

People who walk the terra-cotta colored cobblestones of Via Lapis cannot miss Ivana Carpineti’s fioreria. The bright assortment of flowers and a sweet perfume greet visitors as they walk past, beckoning them to stop. As Ivana welcomes each customer, her smile lights her face, her love for her job apparent. As she prepares a single rose for a customer, her hands fly like butterflies. Ivana cuts and folds netting and makes each bow by hand to create a beautiful presentation. Florist spray makes the petals and each leaf glisten as though glazed in fine dew.Ivana Carpineti

Ivana always dreamed of opening her own flower shop in Cagli, and she took classes and developed her skills until she was ready. Her first shop was located on the main road, and two other flower shops competed for the local business. That was 22 years ago. Her shop is now the only remaining floral shop in old Cagli, a tribute to her talent and skill. She waves off compliments, saying humbly that her success is due to her lack of competition.

Her clients buy both fresh flowers and original artificial arrangements that she designs. She also works to create pleasing interior home décor pieces.  One example of her talent is a striking rectangular mirror trimmed in silver foliage and a white wicker vase filled with white flowers and silver accents pieces. The exquisiteness of the contrast between the matte and polished finishes attracts attention. Ivana considers it a simple composition.

Ivana arranges flowers for all major events in Cagli such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, feast days, weddings and funerals. The hours are long, but she loves flowers and the Cagli residents who buy them. Most days her customers ask for traditional bouquets; however, some clients ask for odd color combinations and make strange requests. Ivana humors them with grace and charm, offering gentle guidance in a soft-spoken manner that puts her customers at ease. Recently, she says, the regular customers aren’t spending as much -- proof that this quaint, remote town is touched by global economic issues.

As a working mother, Ivana faces the challenges associated with juggling multiple roles.  The hours her job demands make it difficult to spend as much time as she would like with her daughter. When her daughter was young, Ivana relied on help from her parents.  Now, her daughter is a sophomore at the university in Florence studying architecture with the hope of working in building design. Ivana’s dream is for her daughter is to have a more predictable work schedule and an easier life.

Ironically, Ivana has no houseplants of her own because she doesn’t have time to care for them. Running her business does not allow her time to grow flowers for her store; those are bought from a dealer. She does, however, have an outdoor garden at her home containing a variety of perennial flowers. As she talks about her flowers, her eyes light up, and she becomes more animated. Although she cannot claim one flower as her favorite, like many of her customers, she loves roses. Between her outdoor garden and her greenhouse, she has roses most of the year.

At the shop, Ivana greets a customer with a beaming smile and a sincere “Ciao!” The customer leaves happy, carrying a bouquet of pink roses that Ivana has framed with baby’s breath, lavender and her signature decorative bow.