Moving to Rome from her native California in 2003, Era began apprenticing with Ferruccio Serafini, a legendary Roman saddler, (b. 1933) Travesterino, and local legend whose client list includes Anna Magnani, Marlon Brando, Robert and J.F. Kennedy. Throughout this ten-year apprenticeship, Balestrieri learned the technique and the history of working with leather from this artisan. She has carved her own niche in the trade, while respecting the tradition of her maestro. Her work has been acclaimed in ELLE, WWD, The New York Times, and Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. Her unique pieces are created with care by hand from naturally vegetable-tanned leathers sourced locally from the Santa Croce Sull'Arno region.
Era is married to a 4th generation farmer and shepherd in the Maremma region of Tuscany, located near the Mediterranean sea. Her atelier is a converted stable, overlooking olive trees, vineyards, fields of grain and just beyond that, the mountains of Monte Amiata. Other than all things leather, she ardently cooks using her husband's homemade olive oil and wines. She finds inspiration through making meals for loved ones, dark music, the subtleties in nature, Nabokov, and Italy in autumn.
Portrait by Alex Asher Daniel