There is a particular treasure which Anghiari is especially proud of and for which it is famous all over
Italy - Antiques.
The town is like a little nest of antique dealers who have always combed the local area for the precious keepsakes of the past. Gradually through economic need but most of all because of the particular appreciation and taste of the Anghiarese, the activity of the second-hand dealers changed over the years to the more refined art of antique restoration; an art that began with such craftsmen as Foscolo Matassi, Giuseppe Mazzi, Galliano Calli and Milton Poggini. The interest and enthusiasm of some of the craftsmen for this kind of art soon changed into a real trade.
A fundamental aspect has always been, however, the combination for a love of antiques and the skills of the craftsmen to give any object back its original splendour.
Over the years a huge pool of experience has been accumulated which means that nowadays old pieces of furniture which others might discard can, in fact, be brought back to life. In Anghiari furniture is much more than just an object:
its history across time is also the history of the people with the tastes and fashions of each period, changing through centuries, but always representing the richness of a culture.
A School for Art and furniture restoration
The growth of the antiques business in Anghiari meant that there was a much greater demand for highly skilled craftsmen than the normal apprenticeship methods of training could produce.
Thus the Art School, the Istituto Statale d'Arte di Anghiari, was founded in 1961 to provide not only skilled and qualified craftsmen in the field of wood restoration, but also to let the students develop in an atmosphere of cultural learning which will allow them to work with a knowledge both of their historical background and of the modern reality in which we live.
The Istituto d'Arte is not, therefore, just a standard trade school but is aimed at giving a higher and more complete education. The proof of this is in the collection of
'masterpieces' on display in the Institute which is frequently visited by other European schools.
After three years students can achieve the Diploma of Maestro d'Arte, while if they complete all five years they can obtain the Maturità of Applied Arts. With the Maturità students can go on to study any subject they choose at University or continue with an art school such as the Academy of Art or enter straight away into the world of work. They can also teach the subjects they have studied such as cabinet-making, inlaying, lacquering, gilding and engraving.