The Odigitria Collection is inspired by Itria Valley (in Italian, Valle d’Itria) in Southern Italy, which features a large amount of secular olives and very ancient buildings, not far from the sea. Its place-name, Valle d’Itria, is of byzantine origin, derived from the oriental cult of the Madonna Odegitria (that is Virgin Mary who shows the way – from the Greek 'odos', meaning way, and 'egheter', standing for guide). According to popular tradition, indeed, Virgin Mary would show the right way to the travellers in trouble.
Its origin is to be sought in a legend about St Luke the Evangelist, patron saint of painters, who allegedly painted a portrait of Virgin Mary while in Jerusalem. The icon would have been found in the Holy Land in the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius II’s wife, who brought it back to Constantinople. The icon was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria, which was built specially to contain it. Its name was derived from Hodegetria, meaning “(who) shows the way”.