Stories of hands: not just a book

Post by Roberto Righi | from the magazine fermomag

There are the photos of the most talented Italian artisans and of 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 tradition and do all they can to defend it.

All this is MANI (i.e. “hands”), the book of Italian Stories, the largest network of cultural and experiential tourism focused on Italian craftsmanship, which aims 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 Italian Stories, who edited the book, in collaboration with Silvia Zanardi from, “we set ourselves the goal of enhancing and promoting worldwide the huge intangible heritage represented by the large amount of excellent artisans throughout all of Italy”, because “we believe that this rich heritage, kept in their laboratories, must be protected and preserved, in order to ensure that everyone understands the value of artisans and of their knowledge”.

That’s why they decided to collect in this book (a limited edition, available on request) some of the best Italian stories.

Like the story of Marisa, the “impiraressa” of Venice, who has reinvented an old Venetian craft and, using long metal needles from the 19th century, threads tiny Murano glass beads, which are no longer produced and are therefore very rare, to create unique pieces of jewellery and fashion accessories: “I learnt the groundwork of this ancient technique almost by chance, in a strange way: from an elderly Venetian “impiraressa” who had moved to Padua and was my sister-in-law’s neighbour”.

Or the story of Emanuele, the artist 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, he had a sudden and “real love at last sight” for iron. Or that of Andrea, the paper maker, who “personally takes care of the whole process”, starting from the harvest, in the Salento countryside, of the Mediterranean botanical species that he then uses to colour and flavour his handmade vegetable papers.

de simeis andrea

Or like the story of Gianmaria, who was an amateur cellist and has chosen to become a luthier, learning the true meaning of time: “creating a musical instrument takes patience, a constant patience that accompanies every moment of the construction. Wood and time. Dedication, blisters, splinters and calluses”.

Gianmaria Stelzer - liutaio - ph Caludia Corrent

There are many stories that these craftsmen can tell us, many things they can teach us, and they are all interesting. Not only in the book MANI, but also on the website (and related socials), and in their laboratories, in direct contact with them, learning from their hands, watching them at work. These are wonderful stories, little secrets, and unique, unforgettable and valuable experiences.

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