Local Artisans in Italy

Saturday, 31 May 2014 07:10
Written by Gemma
Graffiti Napoli 2013 Graffiti Napoli 2013 G. Green Close

I always try to give to my clients a selection of tours that will cater for varying tastes as everyone is so different and not all people love art or architecture etc, although when travelling in Italy one should really go to see the creations of genius to marvel at just that – the genius of creation done by human beings – what people can do. I was just watching the lighting show performed on the sails of the Sydney Opera house and I just marveled at the incredible creativity but it would have taken millions of dollars to commission such spectacular design.

I encourage my clients to visit the houses of genius in Italy to see Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s - one of the world’s most moving statues and of course David in Florence in the Accademia but also if they have time to also go to see the local artisans in places like Florence or Napoli because creative genius always is present no matter what country you visit.

The only problem is that often these days true creative genius is hidden away as today artists do not have a pope or a king or prince or a governement to finance the time needed to create the magnificent sculptures or buildings. It is only the lucky ones who get a huge commission. Most genius are found in the back alleyways still plugging away hoping for discovery one day but doing it because they are passionate about it – a need to continue to do it often in extreme poverty.

I found a creative genius who knew his craft in the backstreets of Pozzuoli, Campania, as I was walking past one day. He was an old cobbler in the old fashioned sense of the word. He was sitting in a room with no windows only a door in the half dark with only a lamp shining on his work – a boot that he was fixing. He had done this all his life. He was sitting there with his old fashioned leather tools spread around him, crouched over the upturned boot. It was like something out of a fairy tale of Hans Christian Anderson that I read as a child.

I went into watch and of course he turned out to be an amazing character and started telling me some hilarious stories that made me laugh and laugh. Of course one has to be able to speak a little Italian to be able to converse with the natives but it really is meeting the locals that makes travel so fascinating.

My old cobbler also crafted individual prosthetic legs for those that don’t have any, shaped and matched to the other leg with the same muscular formation etc. He was a real sculptor except he had no recognition from the public only from the patient who would be able to walk again with a new artificial leg.

These little shops and these great craftsmen will soon be lost to the world as the young are not prepared to slave away for hours to learn these old fashioned techiques in a cramped dark little shop in the backstreets… Artificial limbs are made by computers now and as for little cobblers who will re-heel your favourite leather boots for a song ,as well as entertain you while he works … make the most of them while they are still around.