Deep Nudes

What Happened to La Bella Vita?

We, Barb & Pete Strom, spend most of January & February on buying trips looking for new trends and exciting collections for our stores in Cleveland, Ohio.

So, on cue, we went to the gift trade show in Atlanta in January for six days and then had one day home before we journeyed to Italy for our really big buying excursion on January 22, 2020 (our 43rd wedding anniversary)!

We began at an International exhibition in Milan where mostly European, Middle Eastern, Asian and a few North American nationals come to meet Italian Artisans from many regions of Italy.

Yes, you guessed it. The virus was happening in China and becoming big news where we were all gathered.

I was sad to see the Chinese buyers relegated to a separate part of the breakfast room in the hotel the first day we were there, and then the next day, they were gone. 

The Virus was in the news, but a visual reality in Italy during the trade show when the Chinese nation’s people were frightened and fleeing to their homeland in front of our eyes.  Little did we know what was coming next.

We continued our trip beyond Milan to the Tuscan region.  The news of China was very much in the minds of the Italian people.  As we drove to factories we communicated through our agent who would check on business associates in China.  Food was running out in the stores and the virus was “viral” and the mercenaries were taking advantage. It was an emotional reality for us as we were part of the conversations.

As I touched base with our stores, it was business as usual and the thought of the virus was nil.  I was so relieved.  My wonderful staff was well and running the show!

 We were in a bubble as we worked in the Tuscan countryside with factories.  We love to develop product with our artisans who have become friends and family over the years.  It is a period of  just doing what we love to do and they do so well.

I then journeyed back to Milan alone for the Fashion & Jewels show on February 14.  Six days later, I returned home and six days later Italy had its first Covid-19 cases explode in the Lombardi Region North of Milan.

I felt like the virus was chasing me around the world when it began to creep into our lives at home. I will stop here. 

We are all going through a life-altering experience with this mega virus.  You are our life.  We work for you. The stores are for you.  We love what we do. I want to bring you the life of La Bella Vita as we are doing it. This is “What Happened” so far. We returned home last week from further travel in the US to help family.  We are so relieved to be home.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.  Yes!  There is a lot more. I need to tell you about the products we have coming, what deal is happening next, and updates on our brave factories in Italy that are trying to work to get our products created and shipped to us.

Thank you for your support.  We miss the fun you bring to our lives and are excited to see you again!

Ciao & Abbracci,


March 28, 2020


  1. Kathy Winkhart says:

    Hi Barb and Pete. Barb, I missed you when I was at the store during the meatball festival. I had a great time with your customers and Pete. By the way it was my BD and I thought it was a great day to spend it with my mom in spirit. This terrible what is happening to all the people in so many countries even our own.I will see you soon when all this comes to a end. The both of you be safe. Kathy Winkhart

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