This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Dream of Italy celebrating the town of Cortona which is featured in theDream of Italy: Tuscan Sun Special now airing on PBS stations and Create TV. It is a continuation of the article People to Know in Cortona
Nearby in Piazza della Repubblica, tucked under the ancient stairs of the town hall is a tiny jewel box of a boutique, where a Cortonese craftsman and his American wife marry their skill at jewelry-making with their affection for Cortona.
Sebastian Ghezzi DelBrenna embodies exuberance, for his hometown and for his craft. There’s no mistaking his devotion as he talks about Cortona in the sumptuous DelBrenna Jewelry showroom, which is located near the original shop inside an olive mill that dates to the 1300s.
“What makes Cortona special is the people,” he says. “In fact, Frances Mayes said, ‘I came for the beauty, but I stayed for the people.’”
For a shopping experience unlike any other, visit the DelBrenna showroom, where handmade jewelry is displayed in a historic setting. It all reflects the signature chain designs, which in turn represent the family links behind the business. Those same chain designs also can be found adorning DelBrenna’s handmade shoes.
Sebastian tends to be the life of any party he attends. He’ll explain the olive mill’s history and the jewelry making process with the same effervescence as the prosecco he’ll offer, sprinkled with gold and silver flakes. And you might even get a glimpse of jewelry being made in the working studio.
On Thursdays from May through October, DelBrenna puts the shine in the town’s Wine, Dine and Shine festivities, allowing participants to borrow jewelry to wear to the dinners that are part of the event. The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursdays) and by appointment on Sundays.
In 2018, the couple followed a yellow brick road of their own back to Kansas, where Megan hails from, when they opened a U.S. location in the Crestwood Shops in Kansas City. But they still spend most of their time in Cortona.
All of the shop décor and the jewelry designs reflect the Etruscan history and artistic traditions of Cortona. Sebastian proudly points out the city is known as “the mother of Troy and the grandmother of Rome” because of legends surrounding the city’s founding by descendants of Noah centuries before their subsequent descendants founded Troy and Rome.
As Sebastian explains, the mix of ancient history and modern culture, situated on a sun-drenched hillside, means that “Cortona is very unique.”
To learn more about Sebastian and the art of jewelry making, visit www.delbrennajewelry.com