By Kristina Houck
A fifth-generation Italian antique dealer, Jacopo Bellini grew up searching for hidden gems.
“It’s fun,” Bellini said. “It’s treasure hunting. There’s always something that I fall in love with.”
Born and raised in Milan with ancestral heritage in Florence, Bellini shares his culture through the Italian antiques he brings to his store. Located in Solana Beach’s Design District, Bellini’s Antique Italia offers 17th century to mid-20th century modern Italian antiques, as well as contemporary décor pieces.
Hand-picked for their master craftsmanship, every piece has its own story.
“Sometimes you can tell the story because you bought it from a family that has owned the piece for a long time,” Bellini said. “With 20th mid-century pieces, there is a story related to the designer who designed the piece.”
Bellini relocated to the United States in 2000. For two years, he worked as an antique buyer and restorer before opening his own store in Solana Beach.
“Coming from Italy, I’m used to people walking the streets,” he said. “La Jolla, Little Italy and Solana Beach were the only three places where I saw people walking.”
Bellini’s Antique Italia opened in 2002 at the corner of Cedros Avenue and Lomas Santa Fe Drive before it moved to its current, more visible location across the street about a decade later.
The shop owner travels to Italy a few times each year to both visit his family in Milan and visit his sources throughout the country, choosing the best pieces for his store.
“The store is really personal,” Bellini said. “People come here and they want to hear your accent, they want to hear the story.”
Bellini’s father, Roberto, still operates an antique store in Milan. His cousins also run their own store. The first family business was in existence around 1850 in Florence and was run by his great-great-grandfather, Bellini said.
Although he wanted to continue the family business, Bellini wanted to open his store overseas.
“I realized that dream,” he said.
“If you ever watched an Italian movie and liked what you see in the movies, how their houses were warm and charming, you can find the same feeling here,” Bellini added. “My goal is to bring here the best of Italy.”
Bellini’s Antique Italia is located at 117 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
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