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The art of doing

cestaioWe have talked and exchanged ideas on the issue with Fabio Gonnella, blacksmith in Abbadia San Salvatore.He loves to think of himself as the “future witness of the centuries-old legacy”. In his shop the “know-how” is 400 years old, almost as old as the Americas.

Fabio has gathered the extraordinary body of skills thanks to the last of the Coppi's family, blacksimth and granddad of the woman he got married to.
The old maestro, soon recognizing Fabio's potentials, designated him as his heir and led him to a secret place, not far away from Abbadia, where his ancestors used to collect a special kind of stone that once ground was used for the welding of the iron.

While telling us all this, Fabio is forging a piece of incandescent iron with the help of a 400 kg drop hammer. In this image there is something from the past (the machine) and something from the present (the man).

Besides being talented as a blacksmith Fabio also knows how to communicate through the power of his own passion. He uses words and gestures that come from within and from a distant past: “What a great feeling to work with a technique that is still a secret, handed down from master to apprentice over the centuries! It is also from this that you can understand why the blacksmith has always been associated with the figure of the alchemist, capable of controlling the elements, water, air, earth and fire, forging the instruments not only for the living but also for the dead.

Indeed, from a blacksmiths workshop, besides all those everyday implements to be used in the kitchen and in the fields, would also come out instruments of war.

In times of the “already-made”, mass-produced products, virtual flimsiness and composite materials there is still a workshop where a man forges the raw material, designs without the help of a computer and works with fire perfectly at ease with a mechanical arm of 400 kilos.

He's a powerful alchemist, a gentleman who hands out precious skills with a passion that completely lacks in rhetoric.

Once we're out of the shop he better explains his point to us: preferable is the imperfect beauty where passion lives and where words have the consistency of truth. Even better it's the discovering of places and people who don't betray their own traditions, ignoring any form of standardization.

We found evidence of this in another shop where the smell of pecorino cheese rings as a call to which it's impossible and above all useless to resist: right there in tight rooms, there is more than it could physically fit, from mushrooms to dolls. The name is Pinzi Pinzuti: unforgettable.

At the counter there is Marcellina who, with an almost oriental composure and the kindness that is proper of the Amiata people, leads the customers through this intricate labyrinth of flavours. Like a Tibetan monk, with no words, she'll show you, without having the chance to reply, how rushing only belongs to losers.

 

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