by Roberto Righi
There are photos of the most talented Italian artisans and their hands, expert, skilful, careful, wise, damaged, dirty, calloused, tired and beautiful hands. And there are their stories. Stories of lives devoted to work, true stories of passion, love and effort, stories of people who believe in the tradition and makes everything to defend it.
All this is MANI (Hands), the book of Italian Stories, the largest network of cultural and experiential tourism in Italian manufacturing, which aim is to support the beauty and importance of artisan “know how”. As told in the introduction by Eleonora Odorizzi and Andrea Miserocchi (the founders of the project Stories Italian, who edited the book, in collaboration with the texts by Silvia Zanardi storiedichi.com), “we have set ourselves the objective of enhancing and to promote worldwide the enormous intangible heritage represented by the large amount of excellent artisans throughout Italy”, because “we believe this wealth kept in their laboratories must be protected and preserved, so that everyone can understand the value of artisans and their knowledge“.
That’s why they decided to collect in this book, limited edition and available on request, some of the finest Italian stories.
As the story of Marisa, the “impiraressa” of Venice, who reinvented an old lagoon craft and, with nineteenth century long metal needles, she inserts tiny beads of Murano glass, which for years are no longer produced and now are therefore very rare, and then create unique jewellery and decorations for fashion: “I learned the basis of this ancient art almost by accident, bizarrely, by an elderly impiraressa of Venice, who had moved to Padua, in my sister in law’s same building“.
Or the story of Emmanuel, the artistic blacksmith who, although born and raised in the workshop of the family, has always stubbornly refused to learn the trade of his grandfather and father, until, once grown, had a sudden love at first sight for iron, “a real love at last sight”. Or that of Andrea, the paper craftsman, who deals “alone with all the paper production process”, starting with the harvest, in the countryside of Salento, of the species of the Mediterranean botanical then used to colour and flavour its handicraft vegetable papers.
Or the story of Gianmaria, who from cellist for passion has chosen to become a luthier and he learned about the true meaning of time: “to make a musical instrument it takes a constant patience that accompanies every moment of the construction. Wood and time, dedication, blisters, splinters and calluses“.
There are many, and all are interesting, stories that these craftsmen can tell us and there are things they can teach us. Not only in the book MANI (Hands), but also on the portal italianstories.it (and related social) and in their laboratories, in direct contact with them, learning from their hands, watching them at work. These are wonderful stories and secrets, and unique experiences, unmissable, unforgettable and valuable.
Cover: Marisa Convento, “impiraressa”, photo Evelyn Leveghi