A trip to the Valdichiana Senese to learn about local craftsmanship and the golden hands of local artisans
Twenty-seven years of work is not a short time, but it is never enough for anyone who has a strong passion for craftsmanship. This is the case for Emiliano Martinelli, an artisan who creates and repairs leather objects in Chianciano Terme
“I remember the summers of my teenage years spent in my cousin’s shop learning the trade of shoemaker. I’ve always been attracted to leather because it is closely linked to the world of horse riding, with saddles and straps made from this material: dedicating myself to a job that would allow me to be in contact with leather was therefore a natural path, I never thought of doing anything other than this” – says Emiliano.
After the interruption of his studies and various vicissitudes of the workshop, it was he who took over the reins of the activity: “It is a world that has always fascinated me because there is no limit to the repair of leather objects, a shoemaker can restore something very old and worn out to transform and recover it, give it life and make it new. I also take care of the actual creation of products in this precious material, starting from the idea of the design on paper and arriving at the manual creation of a pair of shoes, a wallet, a belt or any other product”.
Emiliano started working in craftsmanship when leather was the only material used, but today the world has changed, and shoes, like many other accessories for daily use, are made of synthetic materials: “To be able to continue working I have to keep up-to-date, today instead of a shoemaker I often seem to be a chemist because the objects are made of synthetic material and to repair them it is necessary to use and mix glues and other products. But it is still interesting, having to learn new things frequently certainly does not allow you to get bored”.
Despite these radical changes, the passion for artistic craftsmanship never ends and for this reason the creation of custom-made shoes in leather is still possible today as well as the creation of objects for events linked to horse riding and for local historical re-enactments such as the Giostra del Saracino in Sarteano and the Bravìo delle Botti in Montepulciano.
“Today for me being an artisan is a real mission: the bureaucracy is increasingly complex, the needs of customers are ever greater and work has changed radically. Creating works of art is difficult but when I can and I get the chance, I can’t wait to do it and it’s very satisfying: designing and making bespoke products is the most beautiful job in the world, but so is bringing back to life a worn out object. This is the beauty of leather, being a natural and resistant material, it can be reworked and brought back to new countless times”.
Emiliano is just one of the many craftsmen who create unique creations in the Valdichiana Senese. In the coming weeks we will tell the stories of the other expert masters of art and craftsmanship who open the doors of their shops every day to create ceramics, musical instruments, jewels and much more. Follow us to discover them all. And if you missed it, take a look at our video, where you can see the craftsmen at work.
If you are curious to get to know Emiliano and the other artisans of the Valdichiana Senese live, book the Valdichiana Living Artisans Tour. For an all-round experience, we have also thought of a 3-day stay to get to know the Valdichiana Senese, explore the artisan shops and eat the typical products of the area. Check it out here.