I was fortunate to be able to visit many of the luthier friends I had met last trip. The morning of the Taraffo event, I had a nice visit (after getting hopefully lost, dumped at the wrong location by a confused taxi driver…or was it me being hopelessly confused?) with violinmaker/restorer/researcher/author Alberto Giordano. We talked about the provenance of my new De Barbieri harp guitar that he had so generously procured for me, and he let me poke around the shop again. I discovered this 1925 mandolira specimen by Frances Poggi, the local maker who (somewhat crudely) copied Gazzo’s many harp guitars and similar instruments.
On Saturday, the day after the Taraffo presentation, Jaci went off shopping with the women, while Franco took me to see Antonello Saccu, with Chiara in tow for the necessary translations.
It’s always great fun poking around his shop. In the back was this unfinished modern Gibson-inspired mandocello he has been fiddling with in collaboration with local mandolin-maker Corrado Giacomel (who we would shortly meet).
Of course, he finds plenty of harp guitars in town, including an original Tullio Giulietti from 1919
A c.1950 harp mandolin stamped “Mogar” (= Monzino & Garlandini). As he didn’t want to spend the time restoring it, Antonello gave it to me as a gift – I managed to fit it in the flight case with the harp guitar, and it made it to L.A.
Speaking of mandolins, Antonello next offered to drive us to meet his friend, Corrado Giacomel, who, in an unusual twist for this historical city, builds high end modern mandolins of his own distinctive design. If you’ve heard of them, it’s because David Grisman and several other famous mandolinists have been singing their praises. Grisman has helped get them into specialty stores in the U.S.
Note his unique take on the “F-style” mandolin. These old-meets-new modern instruments are becoming quite popular. They play and sound amazing, of course, and I saw why when Corrado privately shared with me some of his construction “secrets.” We noted how his small shop (adjacent to the showroom) was as clean and sparse as Antonello’s place was dusty and chock-full of hidden surprises.
Finally, at the end of the day, as stores were closing, we managed to catch Carlo Pierini at his shop. You may remember our visit 2 years ago, when he showed us the crazy “man-in-the-moon” harp guitar, just brought in for repair…
We didn’t have a chance to visit Pio or Marco, to whom I now say Ciao!
Next time: Last walks and goodbyes…