Valtellina is filled with craft activities that are handed down from generation to generation by tradition.

In ancient time crafts of the valley were concentrated on raw materials that nature offered and centered around everyday necessities.

So artisans of Valtellina were and still are carpenters, millers, weavers and bakers as well as cobblers and knife grinders.

Textile craftsmanship was focused on the fibers cultivated in the valley: flax and hemp. The prime area of flax cultivation was Bormio where the activity was already regulated by ancient local Statutes.

In Valgerola, Rasura and Pedesina were the most important weaving centers of the area, in 1890 still 60 looms were active for the production of flax and hemp textiles and the renowned pezzotti.

Unfortunately during the 1940s hemp cultivation was declared illegal, thus removing the most used product from the market with which the majority of textiles for clothing was made.

Flax cultivation has been progressively abandoned because the original artisanal fiber extraction methods were extremely strenuous and time consuming.

To this day a very small amount of weaving workshops still use flax and only limited to the production of the traditional pezzotti.

Still very strong is the wood processing and manufacture tradition and with a large number of carpenters in the valley there is still a strong culture of woodcutters. Talamona is considered to be home of woodcutters, where every year wood cutting races take place and where you can visit the Museum dedicated to woodmen.

Also the crafts linked to the cultivation of cereals have remained active and are still present with mills and bakeries in the valley.

From the old buckwheat and rye flours, after the war, white flours have been considered more desirable. Today, with a different perspective with regard to nutrition, buckwheat and rye crops are making a comeback and endangered varieties of cereals are being rediscovered and preserved.

Another typical job was that of a shoemaker. Often those who practiced it were workers of the fields who, with this occupation, filled the periods during which could not be devoted to agriculture.

This was an important figure in the past because shoes were very expensive items that you had to take great care of and had to make them last as much as possible. Shoemakers provided services of multiple resoling and patching.

Again this craft was handed down in the shops and after a few years of apprenticeship the new shoemaker was ready to work on their own.

The figure that stood out most was the grinder who wandered through the land with his equipped bicycle calling customers loudly to warn of his arrival.

Photo credit: godog via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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