Mastro Cartaro

Poking our curious heads into dimly lit workshops tucked into Bevagna’s Medieval corners, we stumbled upon artisans still practicing and preserving centuries-old crafts. We felt as if we had truly stepped back into the Middle Ages.

An open fire at the back of one darkened shop drew us in. Somewhat timidly we ventured further into the dim stone room. There, his back to us, a man was busy at his craft: making paper still using authentic medieval methods and equipment. I picked up one of his business cards lying in a basket near the entrance: Francesco Proietti, Mastro Cartaro, proprietor of La Valchiera.

It must have been a very hot job

The master paper-maker himself was carefully pulling a piece of parchment from a solution before hanging it to dry, a burning pot of oil by his side. Other parchment pieces already through the process were hanging from bamboo sticks resting vertically on a wooden rack. In another area of the shop a mass of pulp sat waiting its turn to be magically morphed into paper.

The pulp is laid over these wooden structures to dry

Medieval paper-making is quite messy

We watched awhile in silence, transfixed, before ambling on.

A short ways down, we came upon a candle-maker’s shop. Peering through the thick rock door , again we felt like we were peeking into the 14th century. Twisted sticks of candles hung by their wicks from rusty metal bars suspended from the curved stone ceiling.

It had been a long, but satisfying day. We were ready for a rest, so we headed back towards the car. As we wove our way through Bevagna, these last images assured us we really were still in 2009.

Art: colorful hanging laundry

As we leisurely wound our way back to Todi, we enjoyed the sloping acres of olive groves and vineyards.


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