The Culture and Traditions of Italian Knife Craftsmanship
Posted on 08 February 2016
Run by master knife-makers Piero Bartolini, Fabio Gasparrini, and Alessandro Conti, the Coltelli dell’Artigiano is located in a town long-known for its craftsmanship of cutting tools, Scarperia, near Florence. When Scarperia was founded in 1299 by order of the municipality of Florence, iron-working was already a strong local tradition. Cutting-tool skills were handed down from father to son, and the industry adapted to the demands of the changing market, moving from daggers and knives to switch knives (when the law shortened the legal length of a knife’s blade), now the leading product of the Scarperia craftsmen.
In their small factory in Scarperia, Piero, Fabio and Alessandro, some of the most skilled craftsmen in their field, specialize in custom-made knives as well as reproductions of dozens of antique and regional tools and knives, all made with original materials and animal horns. This company continues to be informed by and to prize not only the practice of knife-making, but the culture and traditions behind the acts of giving, carrying, and using a knife as acts of love and gamesmanship as well as defense and self-protection, all famously celebrated in local literature and folklore.
Each summer the town of Scarperia celebrates its cutting tools with a trade fair which, in addition to knives, has a wealth of other festivities and events. The tradition of knife-making is also celebrated in the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti (Museum of Cutting Tools), located in the Palazzo dei Vicari, in the very heart of town.