Monday, April 22, 2013

Local Artisans

 Master Craftsmen
i Mastri Artigiani

The master's hand. It's everywhere: in the shape and style of the chimneys; in the 'ricciolo' or curl finishing an iron rod; the precision of a turned edge; the dressing of a block of stone; the dovetail joint in a drawer; the severe yet stylish cut of a door; the line and curve of a banister; the pattern in which floor tiles are laid; the contrast between the wall colour and its fine line of bordering; the panels of colour under a railing or beneath the ceiling; the careful choice of stone or brick or wood to frame a door or a window; the perfect arch...a tutto sesto (Roman arch) or ribassato or ellittico; the coupling of stone and terracotta; the silent, smooth slide of a drawer...

typical Tuscan chimney

curl of bannister

old style external lights with ricciolo

roof tiles known as coppi (rounded) and tegole  

stone masonry on steps and wall, each stone individually dressed

coupling of stone and terracotta

elliptical arch

window bars: note link

handmade wooden shutters

window detail: pietra serena and brick

hand made terracotta floor tiles laid in herringbone (spina reale) pattern

pietra serena fireplace surround next to painted wall and oak beam turned into mantlepiece

low arch above windows and cream painted border below beams

 traditional beams - travi e travicelli - and original ceiling tiles - mezzane

perfect dovetailing in drawer

detail of arch finish

traditional style door in poplar wood with iron doorhandle

handmade kitchen drawers installed in masonry kitchen

cupboard handmade by local artisan

arch a tutto sesto or Roman arch

mortise and tenon joint in oak table made by local artisan

The hand of the craftsman (and it is almost invariably a man, in our experience) is everywhere at Le Ripe. The master craftsman, given leave to work on restoration or renovation, will invariably recall tradition in pursuing his art. 'Arte' is indeed the word used historically to describe the various trades, both major and minor, from the days of medieval Florence.  

Respect towards these trades has not shifted much through the ages in the Chianti countryside. As indeed it should not. We are extremely grateful for the skill, care, the aesthetic sense and the respect for tradition evinced by the team of craftsmen who helped us renovate Le Ripe and  contribute to its improvement still today. Master builders, carpenters, joiners, blacksmiths, tilers and painters: thank-you all!


  1. Wherever the workman is utterly enslaved, the parts of the building must of course be absolutely like each other; for the perfection of his execution can only be reached by exercising him in doing one thing, and giving him nothing else to do. The degree in which the workman is degraded may be thus known at a glance, by observing whether the several parts of the building are similar or not; and if, as in Greek work, all the capitals are alike, and all the mouldings unvaried, then the degradation is complete; if, as in Egyptian or Ninevite work, though the manner of executing certain figures is always the same, the order of design is perpetually varied, the degradation less total; if, as in Gothic work, there is perpetual change both in design and execution, the workman must have been altogether set free.

    John Ruksin, "The Nature of Gothic", from The Stones of Venice (London, 1851-53), vol. ii.

  2. A lovely tribute to the old crafts: superb photos. And the contrasting floral sideshow adds to the pleasure.

  3. I should clarify that the above quotation was meant to contribute to this tribute to the craftsmen of Tuscany. What strikes me is how much personal art and aesthetic sense, as you say, each puts in his (and it is mostly his) work. There are so many nuances of individuality even within this tradition of building and crafting. When one commissions something, one does not know exactly how it will be realized. For the artisan will add a little of his own.


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