Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cremona and Antonia Stradivari

We’ve just got back from holiday in Italy. One of the main reasons for going was to visit Cremona.

As I’m sure you’ll know, Cremona was and still is the world’s centre for violin making.
For me, the highlight of the visit was the Museo Stradivariano; although this museum is dedicated to Antonia Stradivari, it has none of his instruments! What it does have however are his tools, templates drawings etc. You could literally start work building a violin with all the kit there. I hate the word “awesome” but it sums up the feeling that you get when you see this collection. To see the tools that were handled by the world’s greatest Luthier and maker of some the world’s greatest artefacts was just awesome! You could only take photos without a flash, so they're not as clear as I would have hoped for.

There’s also the violin museum (no photos allowed!) which has a fine collection by all the great makers: Stradivari, the Amatis etc. One stunning violin, a copy of the Stradivari “Hellier” violin, by Sacconi stood out because of its fine decorative inlays and I’m inspired to incorporate the design into a new mandolin. There are lots of copies of this Strad, this is one that I could photo (without a flash).

I have some wonderful maple that I’ve been saving for something special and this could be it!

It’s amazing how many luthiers work in Cremona; there are literally over 100 and as you walk around the town you keep coming across these very exclusive looking showrooms, with workshops in the rear. I have no idea how they can all make a living, but can’t help wondering if there is room for a guitar maker there. You couldn’t help but produce fine work, being constantly surrounded by such beautiful man-made objects and buildings.

One problem that we always have in Italy is that by the time we reach where we want to get to, everywhere is shutting up for lunch (12:30) and by the time they open again (3:30), we have to get the train back! Hence, instead of chatting to luthiers, peering through windows!

Watch this space for a Stradivari inspired mandolin……………back to the workshop! Ciao!


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