La Bottega del Legno: The Wood Shop in the Forli Region of Italy.

By Posted in - Blog & Destinations & Italy on October 12th, 2013 Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop

By Cacinda Maloney

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

La Bottega del Legno – Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

The Violin

The year was 1943 and it was blistering cold.  The conditions were unbearable and he struggled with making it yet another day.  Days ran into more days at the concentration camp.

Concentration Camp - Auschwitz, Poland

Concentration Camp

But there was one thing that Guisseppe Lombardi loved and that was the sound of music and his passion for that would not die here.  One day while out walking in the yard, he couldn’t believe his eyes as to what he had seen, an abandoned, broken umbrella.  He swooped it up and slipped it underneath his shirt.  “This” he thought, “could be used for creating a tool to make musical instruments.”  He used the stick of the umbrella with its metal pieces to create an instrument tool, so that he could carve musical instruments out of pieces of wood that he had found.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

After carving his first primitive instrument, the violin, he started to silently play it when the radio was on.  Yet over time, one of the guards heard him and asked who was playing that music, as at first the guard thought it was the radio, too… alas, he had to give it to the imbecile, who subsequently broke the violin in half.  But Mr. Lombardi was not broken and knew he had the tool to make another, and so he carved another one and started to play again.  But something different happened this time.  The General had arrived at camp and asked about the sounds of the notes he heard, as he was a violin player himself and when Guisseppe came forward, the General asked him to play a little more and then abruptly stated that it was “the best music he had ever heard”.

Concentration Camp - Auschwitz, Poland

Concentration Camp

He took Mr. Lombardi with him, giving him a truck to make an instrument workshop, where he eventually created 54 pieces to form an orchestra with his very own hands!  His orchestra was called to play at the King of Palace in Baghdad and won a competition in 1944 against the Americans!

Now 70 years later, I stood in wonderment, as I approached the son of Guissippe Lombardi’s old instrument’s wood shed in Forli, Italy, in which Mr. Lombardi  used as his craft since 1946, his own father an instrument maker before him.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop

Luigi Lombardi’s Garden to his Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

Had I not been led here by Gabriele Zelli, Alessandra Catania, my fearless leader, a local guide/translator Lisa Rodi and the mayor of Dovadola, who happened to be a history buff and knew Luigi F. Lombardi, I would not have even known his shop existed. This is a great reason to get a guide while you tour regions in Italy.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

La Bottega del Ligno – Translated in English to: The wood shop

The studio was like a childhood dream of entering into your grandfather’s garage that was jam packed with everything interesting.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola Italy

With hundreds of pieces of violins in varying stages of development, wood carvings,

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola Italy

old photographs of what looked to be his mother’s photo with her reconoscminto (number  45465) Tessera, which I believe to be a marriage certificate declaration in Milan, Italy that is used when one spouse is absent.

Photo in Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Photo in Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

There were also interesting wood-carving tools and equipment,

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

paint and lacquer spray cans, and wood chips lining the floor, reminding me of the I SPY books or the cover of a 1000 piece puzzle, where there are just too many things in the picture to take it all in.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

This was his studio.  And Mr. Lombardi’s son, Luigi, took over the craft, could not have been more gracious, kind and humorous.  He told the story of his Father and how he had learned the craft of violin-making from him.  His Father’s memory glistened in his eyes as he told the story and I could tell he was trying to hold back the memories with his watery eyes when he went over to the cello and played and sang a song for us.

Luigi Lombardi playing the Cello in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi playing the Cello in Dovadola, Italy

When I asked him about his craft and who would be taking over the family business, he told me both his sons had moved to America and quipped that his 10-year-old granddaughter would be the next one in line, that he would stay alive until he could teach her!  “What a shame,” I thought, “that this craft could be lost if no one takes an interest in the art form.”  As literally I could see that it is something that one would have to practice for years to get it just right.

Luigi gave us a demonstration of how violins are made–from finding the perfect piece of wood,

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

then holding it up to your ear and knock it on the other end, then spin the piece around and try again–if the tones match, it’s a good piece of wood.  I listened, but I am sure he heard something different that what I heard.  He spoke of the chiseling of the wood to the drying process of 30 days to let the wood settle, allowing the violin’s “voice” to age like a fine wine.

He talked about the wood and how each piece of wood needs to be worked, and that not all wood is the same and how it must learn to create its “voice” which takes time for the violin, as well as for the violinist.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

At the end, he made by hand, coins for each member of our group.  He had made the “stamp” with which each piece of soft metal “coin” would be hammered into and he swung the hammer with such force, that I stood there in disbelief, as he had to be at least 75-80 years old.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

Then he would flip the metal over and swing the hammer again to complete the other side of the coin.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

It is similar to those coins you see at tourist destinations where you put your penny into the machine and it imprints the coin with a stamp, only this was all done by hand and the coin was made from a piece of pewter.

Luigi Lombardi's Violin Shop in Forli, Italy

Luigi Lombardi’s Violin Shop in Dovadola, Italy

This day, was by far, the highlight of my journey throughout Italy, really it summed up my whole experience in the Emilia-Romagna region.  The people that you meet are the things that make a trip memorable, so keep that in mind as you go on your journey and seek out the people that are interesting to you.

Where:  V. Vicolo del Mulino 4  47013 Dovadola Forli-Cesena, Italy

Get in touch with Luigi Lombardi: foscololombardi@libero.it

 

I searched for information regarding Giuseppe’s orchestra competition in Baghdad, but could not find any information online. The story was translated from Italian to English to me, but I cannot confirm its authenticity.

Disclosure: This post was a part of Buonvivere Blog Tour, organized by Settimana del Buonvivere in collaboration with 21grammy.

(27) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Lindsay -

    October 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    That is SO cool, Cindy! I would have loved to see Lombardi’s studio. I love that kind of stuff while traveling!

    • admin -

      October 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      It was definitely a highlight of my trip to Italy, although there were some amazing experiences, I just love to meet the people, because everyone has a story. Thanks for reading!

  • Beatrice -

    October 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Great post! Great photos as well. Italy is on my list of places to visit sooner than later…

    • admin -

      October 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Beatrice! You should definitely go to Italy, it is well worth a trip!

  • Gaelyn -

    December 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Such a great opportunity to tour. Love when people share along the journey.

    • admin -

      December 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      I love this story!

  • Elizabeth Rose -

    December 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Great story and photos too.

    • admin -

      December 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks! I love this story!

  • Anita -

    December 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

    You are right, Cacinda, it’s the people who transform a journey into an unforgettable experience. We heard about Luigi Lombardi while traveling in the area, but were not able to connect in time to pay him a visit. Definitely on my list for next time!

    • admin -

      December 10, 2013 at 6:09 am

      o yes! he is a must stop!! One of my best memories of the region, and I love Emilia-Romagna!

  • Leah -

    December 10, 2013 at 7:55 am

    What a very cool experience. And what an artist he is!

    • admin -

      December 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Leah! What a great day it was and it really summed up a perfect week in the Emilia-Romagna region. It is a great place to visit and I completely recommend it.

  • […]  This was a first time visit to this region and I have to say, it is amazing as well!  From Forli and Cesena and little towns in between, myself and 5 other travel bloggers traversed that region to […]

  • GowithOh -

    January 22, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Great read Cacinda! We’re so happy you got nominated for Italy magazine for the Best single post about Art & Culture! So cool!

    • admin -

      January 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Thanks GowithOh!! And next time I return to Italy, I hope I stay in a GowithOh apartment!

  • Bex -

    January 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Really interesting post – thanks for exposing us to this side of Italy…I have to go now!

    • admin -

      January 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Yes, you must go and you must go now! ha! I love this region of Italy and especially this man!

  • […] Best Single Art & Culture PostPoints & Travel: La Bottega Del Legno: The Wood Shop In The Fo… […]

  • alessandra -

    February 12, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Cacinda, I told Emilio about this yesterday evening:) He will do a news on the media of Settimana del Buon Vivere and on Fb and I will do the same. So happy to have invited you here, Have some news for you:)) Hugs

    • admin -

      February 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing and for inviting me on such a wonderful tour thru your lovely Forli! Emilia-Romagna region is as amazing as the people I met!

  • […] LA BOTTEGA DEL LEGNO: THE WOOD SHOP IN THE FORLI REGION OF ITALY […]

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  • Welcome new member Cacinda Maloney -

    July 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

    […] the Value Luxury Network.  Cacinda’s blog, Points and Travel, covers the world including an Italian violin maker who started his craft while in a Nazi concentration camp, batek art in Malaysia and the funeral […]

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