of the most typical forms of work associated with the Mugello is the production
of ferri taglienti (cutting irons) in Scarperia. In this small
town, a "fragment of Firenze" amidst the hills and ridges
of the country, it is still today possible to find some of the ancient
shops and workshops of the traditional coltellinai (cutlers) in the town
centre streets. There has recently been a certain amount of modernisation
in the working techniques used to make these finely-worked and well-known
products, but there are still workshops that jealously preserve their
old equipment and some particularly prized pieces dating back centuries.
The history of the cutlers in Scarperia is at least five centuries
old, and in fact these craftsmen originally supplied arms for a vast region.
Over the centuries there have been a succession of phases of significant
growth followed by sudden collapses, periods where production was at a
peak followed by other moments where it was at a bare minimum. The quality
of the work, however, has remained consistently high.
As long ago as 1538, the need to provide a degree of regulation amongst
this category of workers led to the drawing up of a special statute for
the cutlers, the aim of which was to organise the iron-working craftsmen
into a kind of professional order with rigid codes of behaviour and product
quality guarantees. In this period, trademarks were established in
Firenze for the crafts belonging to this order - the corazzai (armourers),
the chiavaioli (keysmiths), the ferraioli (iron-workers),
the calderai (pot-makers), the fabbri (blacksmiths). From
the special seals, it is possible to see the high proportion of craftsmen
from the Mugello, particularly from Scarperia, working between the 14th
and the 17th century.
Translated by Jeremy Carden
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati