The artisans of the Valdichiana Senese tell their creations: From thread and fibre, a much broader project

Ott 18, 2023

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A trip to the Valdichiana Senese to learn about local craftsmanship and the golden hands of local artisans

With fabric, wool and a lot of craftsmanship, the rediscovery of a traditional tool from the past, for cooking food with numerous advantages, the Cassetta di cottura (i.e. cooking box)

How can you obtain an environmentally friendly product from fiber and thread?
Gloria Lucchesi of the Filo & Fibra Community Cooperative of San Casciano dei Bagni never gets tired of telling this fascinating story.

The Cooperative was founded in 2018 with two main objectives: the desire to preserve the environment, which in this place between Valdichiana Senese and Valdorcia is still uncontaminated today, and to help the many women who found themselves in difficulty or unemployed having a job in the manufacturing sector.

Precisely from the union between attention to the environment and manufacturing, this reality was born. It immediately focused on the use of wool, a material that is now devalued but very precious and naturally present in the San Casciano dei Bagni area.

“The wool from Valdichiana Senese is not suitable for use in the production of clothing because it is rustic – explains Gloria – We therefore worked hard by carrying out various experiments to use this fiber in some way, and we succeeded by exploiting its insulating power by filling the cushions to be inserted in the Cassetta di cottura (i.e. Cooking box).

The Cassetta is the cornerstone product of Filo & Fibra and could be defined as a rediscovery because in the past the slow cooking method through the preservation of the hot temperature was incredibly widespread: “The idea came to us when we found a booklet dated 1942 focusing on non-waste, which talks about this tool. Coincidentally at that precise moment, after having tried to use our wool in vain for fabrics, clothing, mattresses, we had many kilos of wool ready to be used, but we didn’t know what to do with. This booklet arrived and we decided to try using wool as insulation to continue cooking food slowly, inserting it inside cushions which were in turn inserted into wooden or fabric boxes”.

Thanks to great manual skill and a careful study phase, the Cooperative has created various types of cooking boxes, made externally in different materials: linen, cotton, hemp, felt or wood, always with the internal fabric lining and with the washed, carbonized and carded wool, inserted inside the cushions. “It’s all artisanal work that starts from cutting out the external shape to sewing the pockets into which to insert the cushions containing the wool. It takes a long time to make a product like this.”

Gloria defines carrying out this purely artisanal work as a challenge, a challenge both in terms of raising people’s awareness and in terms of developing the territory of San Casciano dei Bagni: “Cooking with the cooking box means saving energy, reducing emissions, optimizing the use of time, cooking food while maintaining its flavor and nutritional properties and at the same time bringing work back to this area and responding to an important need such as wool disposal. For all these reasons, the Cooperative continues to craft the cooking boxes and many other products”.

A project that is increasingly consolidated that of the Cassetta, so much so that this year the Cooperative has created the “Community of the Cooking Box of San Casciano dei Bagni”, which promotes the use of this tool for the preparation of foods carefully and consciously.

Filo&Fibra is just one of the artisan realities 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 Gloria and the other artisans of the Valdichiana Senese live, book the Valdichiana Living Artisans Tour.

For an all-round experience, book 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.