Villas, villas! Small villas with eight rooms two bathrooms; princely villas – forty rooms large terrace over the lakes, sweeping view of the Serruchon – vegetable garden, orchard, garage, caretaker, tennis, drinking water, cesspool – more then seven hundred hectolitres – south or soutwest exposure, protected by elms or the age-old shade of the beech hostile to the northerly and the pampero, but not the monsoons of rnort¬gages that also blow full blast on the morainic amphitheatre of the Serruchon and along the poplar groves of El Prado.
Villas! Villas! Full villas, isolated villas, double villas, villa hous¬es, rustic villas, villa outhouses – the “pastrufaziani” architects had little by little embellished with villas ali the placid gentle hills of the pre-Andean slopes, which naturally “slope down gently” to the mild basins of their lakes.
In his “Acquainted with grief’, Carlo Emilio Gadda seems to adequately convey the lively and caustic spirit of natives of Brianza, loved but equally hated by the “great Lombard” Carlo Emilio. For those unfamiliar with the author or who have never read the novel, a masterpiece of 20th-century European literature, I shall say that it is a family chronicle, tragic but at the same time entertaining, set in areai and vibrant Brianza, in which the piace names are contorted to sound like inventions of South American inspiration. So Resegone, a mountain omnipresent on the Brianza landscape, becomes Serruchon; the town of Erba is changed to El Prado; “pastrufaziani” archi¬tects are those of Milan – after Pastrufazio, Milan. Gadda, an engineer, was particularly against architects and with rationalists, whom he called “quadrangulars” because of what he saw as their habit of building with cognition only of the right angle. Through him I started to notice certain traits in the people of Brianza and to observe with a criticai spirit what I had until then simply accepted as a natural appendix of my environ¬ment and not peculiarities, typical characteristics.
When you are born and grow up in a territory you accept its social context as it is at the moment of your first perceptions, just as a young Eskimo naturally assumes that the world consists in an endless white expanse.
I thought it natural that my first games should take piace in the restricted space between a carpenter’s workshop and that of an engraver, huddled in a small courtyard.
Later on, having permitted myself vaster exploration, it was equally natural to idle the ti me away in the small bronze and brass foundry ten metres from home; or in the inlayer’s workshop, situated just a little farther away, next to the door of the chair mender who worked on the street.
Much later on I got to know the small universe of upholsterers and mattress-makers who shared a view from their workshops similar to a dental surgery where everything is clean and tiled, and the blacksmith looks suspiciously and with resignation at your muddy shoes. Some know how to turn a wooden stick making a 2-metre hole down its entire axis – straight and precise. And only they know how. Some can cut, curve, grind, engrave, colour, sand and etch glass … and goodness knows what.
Just as the young Eskimo comes to realise that the world is not an endless blinding white expanse, so I realised that what surrounded me was not such a foregone conclusion, i.e. that my rural and steadfast fellow-citizens should be so skilful at treating a material and drawing from it forms of uncommon understanding, grace and gentleness.
Having gained this awareness I have been very careful, since then, not to underestimate the work of the crattsman, because just two houses away I would find another capable of doing the same thing.
No! Because the other one does not know how to do some refinement that this one was able to do so well and vice versa. “If you want something like that, you must go to him, or that other one, but… but… there was a third one … ”
A maze, a headache of deferments and cognitions, of advice and more deferments, of memories that lead back to the grandfather who had found a solution, to the uncle who supplied the seats for the Titanic, the great-uncle who furnished the Peruvian embassy, the great-great-uncle who worked with Terragni, Ponti, Basile, with … stop!
In a basement you would find an unassuming little man who said: “You do it like this!” … gosh! That is exactly how it should be done, there was no other solution.
Ali this has not disappeared today, it is only more sublime. Their children, their grandchildren work with numerical control machines that they know well and handle as well. As their grandfathers knew how to handle their archaic tools, so they know how to intelligently use the tools made available to them by the new economy.
Some have the latest pantograph and show it to you as if it were a child. Some have a laser cutter that leaves no burrs. Some have installed in their workshops a matching-machine that is “unique in Europe”, well perhaps there is another like it “but only in Germany”. Some have a glass-tempering system that “you just must see”.
Then, in a basament, you find a young boy who has developed his own work method that…

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