Lumber and firewood have long been indispensable for everyday living. Today, despite the various alternatives available, wood continues to be a “precious and noble” material, much loved for its warmth and atmosphere.
The methods and technologies used for working with wood have changed rapidly over the last hundred years with the introduction of new machinery. Nevertheless, manual craftsmanship, the knowledge, the ability to picture the object before building it, remain irreplaceable. In Italy we are fortunate to have such highly skilled craftsmen and cabinetmakers.
Real proof can be found in the northern regions. Think of the tradition of Val d’Aosta, where furniture but also sabots, wooden shoes, are strongly regional and traditional. Sculpting in wood is still practiced with passion and skill. In Trentino, Veneto and Lombardy, you will find the workshop founded by the artisan known as “the poet of wood”, Pierluigi Ghianda and the masters of furniture.
More ancient traditions connected to wood are the furniture and barrels of Modena, and also Chiavari chairs in Liguria, an art that is now more than 200 years old.
Marquetry too, or the art of wooden inlay, is typical in Tuscany, where it was already spreading during the Renaissance to sacristy furnishings, the choirs in monasteries, and chests for dowries. Later in the eighteenth century the abstract and floral themes took the name of marqueterie and more recently were taken up by renowned designers and important cabinetmakers and restorers.
Again in Tuscany, there were skilled shipwrights in port areas, who, due to a decline in orders, veered into working for the district carters and the carnival in Viareggio. In the south too, expert shipwrights became the artisans of Neapolitan cribs, or carpenters in Matera.