Many things guide our way at IL Fiorello. The friendship and counsel of good people. The Suisun wind. The Seasons of the olives.

When we began this journey, Mark and I always talked about a compass rose that would guide our way.  We have always wanted a compass rose for IL Fiorello.  To chart our direction to understand the wind and sun in the Suisun Valley.  Mark used a compass when flying jet airplanes to always guide him to his destination, and to bring him home.

 First came a weather vane from Phil Glasshoff. Her name is Athena. She is the symbol of our cooking school, Kitchen in the Grove.  She points the way for us to follow in the footsteps of the ancients.  Athena the Goddess of Peace, War, and Olive Oil.  The city of Athens bears her name. History says that Athena is responsible for the olives at the Parthenon, and the city name of Athens.

After 15 years, our business has grown. We are expanding and growing, both literally and figuratively. When we had the opportunity to cover the back patio and make something lovely, a compass rose was first on the list to design.

Many visitors ask us about the stones and the design.  Of course,  the compass points to the directions of the compass, North, South, East, West and the points in between. 

The symbolism of the design is for our family. The waves for Katie, our Marine Ecologist. The roots for Elisabeth, our wine guru, and for our family with roots in California. The gold is for California, the Golden State. The green is for the Olive Trees that we have planted. The centering and direction for Mark and Ann, the guides for this business.

The history of the compass rose is interesting.  Initially thought to be derived in Italy, a great seafaring nation.  La Rosa dei Venti. The rose of the wind, as usually you describe the origin of the wind.


It is not known exactly where or when the formal magnetic compass originated. However, what little, unclear evidence has been found indicates the compass was refined in Italy circa 1200AD. Italy is known for its grand maritime achievements that made them a navigational superpower. It is believed Flavio Gioia first invented the refined compass, and a monument has been erected in Almafi Italy to honor his invention.

The magnetic compass was probably developed by combining the wind rose and the lodestone. From this device it is supposed the compass rose evolved. A wind rose was glued to the top of a lodestone and placed in a covered container of water. Later, oils were used instead of water to stabilize the compass disk from erratic movement. Then, it was found you could magnetize needles, and glue them to the bottom of the disk. These needles had to be re-magnetized periodically to maintain a sufficient level of magnetism.

Like the wind rose, the compass rose was coincidentally designed in a fashion that resembled the rose flower. It helped to orient a map in the proper reading direction and gave the relative directions for certain points on the chart.

Before compass roses were used on maps, lines were drawn from central points. These lines were hard to follow since there were usually many of these lines intersecting each other on one map. The rose design was typically drawn in a way that made it easier to follow the directional lines.

Having good maps that were easier to read and which were developed using the magnetic compass made it much more efficient to trade for goods in faraway lands, and over the open seas. Direct routes could be established, and navigation in bad weather enabled transportation to take place year round instead of only on fair weather days during the warmer seasons.

About the compass rose design
The four main points (cardinal directions) of the compass were derived from the wind rose: North, East, South, and West. This is also where the four half points originated (ordinal directions). Later, more points were developed to gain more precise bearings, until finally 32 points in total were used. Reciting all 32 points of the compass is called “boxing the compass”. Some believe the numbers of the points start at North; however, it actually starts at East. This is because in relation to Western Europe, Jerusalem was in the east and therefore East was considered the primary direction.

The Flour de Lys is primarily used to indicate north. It was typically made in a very elaborate style and prominently placed so it could easily be distinguished from the other directions during low lighting environments, and ensured maps were oriented correctly when being used.

Red, blue, black, and green were the most common colors used in the compass rose. For the times, these colors were the easiest to distinguish in low light situations when using oil lamps and candles.

Although modern compasses use the names of the eight principal directions (N, NE, E, SE, etc.), older compasses use the traditional Italianate wind names of Medieval origin (Tramontana, Greco, Levante, etc.)

4-point compass roses use only the four “basic winds” or “cardinal directions” (North, East, South, West), with angles of difference at 90°.

8-point compass roses use the eight principal winds—that is, the four cardinal directions (N, E, S, W) plus the four “intercardinal” or “ordinal directions” (NE, SE, SW, NW), at angles of difference of 45°.