A trip to the Valdichiana Senese to learn about local craftsmanship and the golden hands of local artisans
In his workshop in Sarteano, Mauro Fastelli creates jewels that combine the sensitivity of ancient goldsmithing and contemporary craftsmanship
Màrmara like the Sea of Istanbul that divides the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea, the West from the East. Màrmara as the borderline between the ancient and the modern, this is what Mauro Fastelli has always wanted to be, trying to reconcile the world of ancient goldsmithery with that of contemporary goldsmithery, working both precious metals and more extravagant materials such as plastic, inserting stones of any kind, from diamonds to rocks, from amber to corals.
“I create jewelery inspired by Renaissance works by Holbein, Raphael or Titian, but also by those of contemporary artists. In reality I am a craftsman by chance because I am a qualified surveyor. In the summer at the end of school I saw a goldsmith working, the same person who would later become my master, and it was a shock because in that moment I understood that exactly what he was doing was what I would have wanted to do. ”.
First Mauro attended a goldsmithing course offered by the Tuscany Region, then he gained experience in a workshop in Chiusi and in various workshops in Florence, after which he returned to Valdichiana Senese, in Sarteano, where in 2005 he opened a workshop on his own.
“I don’t deny that I have thought about leaving Sarteano several times, but I never did because I love the slow and calm life of the village. Here life has a different rhythm, it’s not as frenetic as in the city, everything is more human and I have chosen to live like this”.
The jewels he creates by hand are small works of art that start from a profound research of the ancient brought back to the contemporary: “I don’t like things that are in fashion, I like that my goldsmithery is transversal, that it can cross any time and style. I started by making reproductions of Etruscan jewels and I define myself as a contemporary Etruscan, because I have a deep affection towards my roots, it is no coincidence that my Tuscan, Etruscan and Sarteanese origins always return in my art”.
From jewels to canvases: as well as unique jewellery, Mauro also creates paintings which are a continuation of goldsmithing because they are made with goldsmithing techniques brought to large scale such as hand-made fretwork and hammer embossments on wood and lead: “My material is metal, I could never create something without it”.
What does being a craftsman mean to you?
“Having fun, without a doubt. I like to conceive a jewel from start to finish, make a ring from three simple pieces of metal, start from nothing and create a work without having large machinery, a 3D printer or programs to digitally create the design.” And in fact from start to finish, for Mauro the process of creating a jewel is completely manual and starts from the handmade drawing on paper.
What is a jewel for you?
“A work of art! And I like to think that whoever wears one of my jewels is wearing a unique work of art that was created from scratch by choosing the stone, the design, the metal. Whoever buys one of my works, be it a jewel or a painting, buys a piece of me as an artist, my vision of that object, of that situation, of that painting”.
Mauro 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 Mauro 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.