I was 11 and I had just finished elementary school, when one morning, walking through the streets of Valdicastello, my country that had just come out, like all the countries of our Italy, tormented and wounded, from the great war that had seen mine childhood studded with privations, fear and pain, I ran into Lino, who was a worker in a company in Pietrasanta, and who sitting on the stairs of the monument, evaluating me at a glance, asked me: "O boy, but would you like to learn how to make mosaic? My company is looking for an apprentice, but one who wants to work " I looked at him, smiled and said: "Yes, I wish, a lot of desire, but I feel the father and mother and then I will let you know." At the time, you were still giving yourself to older people, as a sign of respect and deference, and it came naturally, without thinking about it too much. I ran away, as fast as I could, to tell my mother about this offer, so wonderful, so bigger than me, that it made me feel already a man, already an adult and, the next morning, I got up with the first cockcrow and, with my heart pounding, I walked towards Pietrasanta with a bag, big, bigger than me, which touched almost on the ground and which contained my lunch. The walk, that morning, as for all the following mornings, was short, because on the way I met Napoleone dell'Erné, who gave me a ride on a bicycle, so that I arrived early in front of the gate by the Ferrari & Bacci company. I went in, started looking around and discovered a world made of colors, shapes, figures, tiny pieces of colored glazes, large wooden counters on which the workers were bent with a hammer in hand, whistling a song, in joy. There were 6 workers and when you think about it today, they weren't much more adults than me, since they were between 18 and 20 years old, but to me, that day, they seemed like men ... I remember that the greatest of all was only 30 years old, but at the time at 30 we were adults, with family and children. At the time we had other responsibilities: we had to rebuild a nation. After a short visit, short because, the job was so long and there was no time to waste, Ferrari, so we called him and so I called him for the rest of our lives together, he gave me a pair of scissors and said: "Copy them on a sheet and then fill the shape with mosaics", reaching out a box full of chunks of multicolored glazes.
I sat down, drew the scissors and began to glue the pieces, careful not to leave the margins of the drawing.
Nobody said anything to me. Nobody gave me instructions. I followed my instincts and went on until even the smallest white space was filled with color and shape. Once finished, I took him to Ferrari, a little anxious, but he didn't say a word, he took my hand, placed it on a white sheet of paper and, with a pencil, traced the shape of my child's hand, inexperienced and insecure and said to me: "Now fill this." My first day, it started like this, with a pair of scissors and a hand that became a mosaic. It began without too many words, without training courses, without books, it began with an experience. The days ran fast, became weeks and months and I began to get closer to the great world of color matching and to handle the mosaicist's tools: the hammer and tweezers. There were various shapes and sizes in the firm and, to me, who was a child, they gave me the smallest one to learn how to handle it. I was fascinated by it: the hammer was made of tempered steel, handmade by the famous Brunini di Ponterosso and my world opened up to a vast realm of possibilities. I beat lightly on the enamel and reduced it into small pieces, trying to give it a shape, a thickness, a size. I was the only child, indeed I was the only child, as they say in Versilia, I was silent, willing.
The grown-ups took me in favor and began to teach me, each for their own competence and specialization, each with their own skills. But my master, then and forever, was Ferrari, a man of majestic talent, able to intuit at a glance the shape, the color, the right dimensions of the piece. The problem, my problem, as everyone's problem, was the glue, made of wheat flour, which tended to crystallize, to pull, as they said, and the mosaic was detached, after all the work done, without any warning . The years passed and the pay, paid at the end of each week, became a real salary and from the 200 lire of the early days, I found myself hired as a worker after only three years. I was 14, I felt like a man, I felt great because I was bringing a real salary home. I felt happy. I kept on learning and, after 7 years, I was able to do everything. I was good at making clothes and I started to work piece by piece, as they once said, earning four times my salary, also working on Saturdays, with a project in mind: building a house to give to my family. I was already 18, years old, when the mosaic made me live my first great adventure abroad and I flew to Malta to install the floor and apse of a church.
What an emotion, what a wonder, to be able to see the world, to be able to know new landscapes, to hear different languages, to see new places and all thanks to tiny pieces of colored marble that, magically, could transport me, project me into another reality. I continued to grow, to specialize, I now knew how to do everything, even to work the most difficult materials such as gold, which deceives, betrays the mosaicist's eye, because by working in reverse, the nuances are lost and only then did I understand that the skill it does not come from the hands, but from the head, from the ability to understand the drawing, the project. I understood that I would never have been an artist but a craftsman, that I would lend my hands and my brain to anyone who wanted to turn his art, his inspiration into a mosaic. But, I still lacked a piece ... to complete my training, an important thing, of which today, at my age, I am totally aware, and that leads me to say that with mosaic you never stop learning, because every job is a new job, full of unknowns, the result of which will be there for all to see, only after it is finished, never before. I have no dreams in the drawer, indeed yes, I have one, continue to work, as always, because the passion, enthusiasm and love I feel for this job is stronger than anything, stronger than the time that passes, stronger than the advancing age, stronger than the wind. Because this is not a job, it is life lived.