The good folks at Botteghiamo are at it again. (We wrote about them and their work to promote the traditional botteghe of artisans still present in Rome here and here.) They are now beginning to host audio guided walking tours in various rioni (the old neighborhoods of Rome) that visit artisans’ workshops, give you the background info for each trade, and introduce you to the artisans personally… cabinet makers, inlayers, embroiderers, upholsterers, restorers, ceramicists, stoneworkers, tailors, goldsmiths, lampshade makers, sculptors, and shoemakers among others.
Most artisans in Rome tend to be pretty laid back and outgoing, yet unless you need a wooden chair restored or a tear in a rug repaired, how likely are you to just stop by for a chat? Botteghiamo’s approach is to treat the tradesmen and women as fully functioning living components of the city, rather than as some quaint old tradition that must be preserved. Botteghiamo figures that the best way to get others to feel the same way is to physically accompany you to the workshops, introduce you to these experts, and have a fun chat.
It was great to see lighbulbs go off above the heads of the people on the walks. Almost across the board, everyone at some point had a “Oh yeah! Actually, now that I think of it I do have an XYZ that needs fixing! So nice to meet you Mr./Mrs.So-and-so. I’ll swing by next week and bring it,” or something to that effect. Usually followed by a “Huh, yeah, why didn’t I think of coming in sooner?” muttered on the way out.
Demystifying the “allure” and “charm” of the old trades is probably Botteghiamo’s greatest accomplishment. And having the occasional event such as the one held the other day in a beautiful Roman piazza to launch the walks at which delicious cremolate (frozen fruit pulp) as well as wine were served and at which artisans ply their trade doesn’t hurt either.
Now, must get those sun damaged breakfront doors to Matteo (Petrosemolo), the ebanista (cabinetmaker).
Contact Botteghiamo in you’re interested in taking their artigiano walk. Tel.06 6830 1041
The great photos are by Liliana Ranalletta, grazie infinite!! The bad ones are mine. -ed.
Bravi for your great work!