When one thinks of Italy, the mind often drifts to images of bustling piazzas, delectable cuisine, and breathtaking art.  However, my recent journey to the quaint town of Scarperia introduced me to a lesser-known but equally fascinating aspect of Italian culture: the art of knife making.  Scarperia, nestled in the Tuscan hills, is renowned for its handcrafted knives, a tradition steeped in centuries of heritage and skill.

The town’s reputation for knife making dates back to 1306, when it was founded by the Republic of Florence.  The tradition of knife making in Scarperia has been preserved and passed down through generations, with each knife telling a story of meticulous craftsmanship and passion.

In July 2023, I surprised my wife with a romantic weekend getaway to Scarperia, without the kids.  A short train ride from Florence, Scarperia is located in the Mugello area of Tuscany, which is also known for Grand Prix motorcycle racing.  As we arrived, I noticed the large amount of knife stores on the main streets displaying in their windows mainly dinnerware knives, but also cutlery ranging from shaving blades to machetes.  My wife and I were certainly in the market for some nice Italian knives, but there were so many options to choose from!

After visiting some stores, we learned that the process of crafting a traditional Italian knife in Scarperia is an intricate dance of skill and patience.  The process begins with the selection of horn, a critical component that dictates the shape and size of the knife.  Once the horn is selected, the cutler moves on to the blade.  The components are then meticulously modeled, forged, and tempered to achieve the desired strength and durability.

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting a master cutler named Giacomo Cecchi from the Saladini cutlery.  Signor Cecchi graciously explained each step of the knife-making process.  He spoke passionately about the history of Scarperia’s knives and the importance of preserving this ancient craft.  As I listen to him explain the process, I certainly gained a deeper appreciation for the intricate artistry involved.  I filmed a YouTube video in Scarperia, which you can see on our Family Channel below.

After much deliberation with my wife, we purchased a beautifully crafted set of knives with a handle made from polished horn from the cutlery, Fontani.  One feature that was important to us was for the knife to include the name “Scarperia” on the blade.  Some cutleries only included their company name on the blade rather than the famous town’s name.  Fast forward a year later, and my wife and I have proudly used our knives in the United States, always being a conversation piece, as well as work of art.  Our knives are not just cutting tools, but they are pieces of history and symbols of the enduring legacy of Scarperia’s master cutlers. Each time we use them, we are reminded of the charming town and the skilled artisans who keep this ancient Italian heritage alive.


Leave a Reply