Since the 16th century, Cremona’s luthiers—including Stradivari himself—have been using an unusually resonant wood from Paneveggio, known as Italy’s “violin forest,” to handcraft the world’s finest string instruments. Then a 2018 storm decimated the forest. A band of experts in Cremona is now rallying to save this iconic tradition. A documentary short.
Film by LUISA GROSSO
The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (To wit: we once saw a pizza outlet on the outskirts of a small town in northern France that was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2019.
By EDITORS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP QUARTERLY
Only a handful of artisans still practice the centuries-old craft of rust printing on fabric. Of those who do, even fewer use the traditional stone mangle, or press, on handwoven, raw hemp fabric, yielding textiles that last for centuries. The Marchi family print-works, in Italy’s Romagna region, may well be the only place left in the world that still produces authentic, rust-printed textiles that are fully handmade.
Story and Film by LUISA GROSSO
On the Northeastern coast of Italy, not far from meccas of refinement such as Bologna and Florence, an unusual drug treatment community named San Patrignano has grown and thrived for more than 40 years. The program’s methodology? Teach addicts high-level artisanal skills, and slowly but surely, confidence and pride fill what was once a desperate void.
By LAURA FRASER
Marino Menegazzo spends his days hammering gold leaf into sheets so fine that your slightest touch will make them dissolve. His workshop—a simple brick building hidden on one of Venice’s myriad piazzas—was once the home and studio of Titian, Italy’s immortal Renaissance painter. Come visit with the world’s last true master of handmade gold leaf—an ancient craft where the hand can still beat the machine, every time.
By ERLA ZWINGLE
In Burano—a tiny island four miles from the city of Venice—the ancient art of ultra-fine, hand-sewn lace somehow remains alive. And so does the equally ancient culture surrounding it. Our correspondent visits with the master craftswomen of Burano to learn their history, their secrets, and the prospects for their future.
By ERLA ZWINGLE
In a small town outside Torino, Italy, the age-old Vermouth giant, Martini & Rossi has turned this beverage into a model of what might be called industrial spirits craftsmanship. Our correspondent goes visiting, then returns stateside to watch a small one-man shop create the modern artisanal version. What are differences, and why do they matter?
By LAURA FRASER
There are many prized vintages from Valpolicella, a postcard-perfect town near Verona, Italy, known for its rich, slightly sweet wines. Over the years, however, as many of these wines have gotten only sweeter, one vineyard, Bertani, has remained true to the old traditions. The result: a complex, unusually balanced wine called Amarone. Our wine correspondent sets out in search of its secret.
By TIM TEICHGRAEBER
Gelato, it turns out, is a very different creature from ice cream. And there is a reason that the best gelato tastes so creamy yet still light, so balanced, so indescribably perfect. The secret—according to master gelatieri Andrea Soban of Valenza, Italy—involves patience, exceptional ingredients, and a fine-tuned knowledge of food chemistry.
Story and photography by ERLA ZWINGLE