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Issue Date: February 2008


Bella Italia!

Escape to beautiful Italy at this year’s Home & Garden Show.
Kristen Hampshire
When there is rich food, close family, fine wine and the promise of escape to a secret garden, life is beautiful. Add 20 indoor acres of inspiring landscapes blooming with ideas for you to pick and replant in your own backyard, along with rooms full of innovative ways to spruce up your home, and life is sweeter yet.

The 65th Annual National City Home & Garden Show transports you to Italy with “Bella Italia,” a celebration of Italian culture, style and gardens. Step into Tuscan spring at the I-X Center Feb. 2 through 10. Experience an Old World taste of a country famous for its geometric, Renaissance-era piazzas, countrysides dotted with stoic olive trees and bountiful vineyards.

This year’s theme returns because Northeast Ohio has a strong connection with its Italian heritage, says Rob Attewell, show manager. And in keeping with all things Italian, you’ll enjoy grandioso portions of tips, products and inspiration.

“What we are really trying to do is give people ideas,” Attewell relates.

The country’s largest show of its kind promises to deliver a full menu of projects you can try — ideal in the current economy where housing starts lag, but renovation and redesign rule, he adds.

Your escape begins in the Italian entry garden with its aggregate stone walkways, marble statuary and manicured boxwoods. The gateway landscape is a collaboration of Don Mould’s Plantation, of North Ridgeville; Suburban Cement, of Olmsted Falls; and Petitti Garden Centers and Milano Monuments, both of Cleveland.

“The beauty is in the simplicity,” says Brad Thimke of Don Mould’s Plantation. Italian gardens are rugged, but romantic — formal with linear walkways and grand fountains, but rustic with stonework as a dominant architectural feature.

Explore the Celebrity Gardens and various interpretations of the Italian theme. Gather in the festive piazza, a generous Italian marketplace teeming with vendors and cultural groups selling food and wine.

“You’ll really be able to experience a lot of local flair from the Italian community,” adds A.J. Petitti, owner of Petitti Garden Centers.

The Loretta Paganini cooking stage will satisfy foodies’ desire to take home authentic recipes and culinary tips.

The Boulevard of Dreams introduces floating modular homes by Coastal Floating Homes connected to city water and sewer, despite a marina “neighborhood” setting on the Portage River in Port Clinton. Also tour the first floor of a cape chalet floating home by Marine City Sales.

A new Boulevard Idea Design Center presents a walkway of rooms with fresh ideas for walls, windows, floors and more. Plus, check out Lee Snijders, designer and host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime,” who will present “Illusion of Design” seminars on Feb. 2 and 3.

“At the show, you can meet the professionals who will help you execute all these ideas,” Attewell points out. “Vendors want to show the latest and greatest, and people can see it all here under one roof.”

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