Just north of Lucca, on the Serchio river is a small sleepy town called Ponte A Moriano. Apart from a Tuesday market, very
little happens apart from a constant flow of people who flock to the Ferramenta, the busiest shop in the town attracting men
and women of all ages.
I would describe it as an ironmonger, but it actually sells everything apart from food and clothes. We call it Aladdin’s Cave
because there is nothing it doesn’t sell. Whether you want a nut or bolt, polish, basket on wheels, bbq it will sell it.
Maurizio, his Dad & Uncle run the shop with a little help from his Mother too (to add the feminine touch). Maurizio is deadly serious and wants to provide every customer with exactly what they want; if it doesn’t fit he will find a way. Nothing is too much trouble.
Although the shop entrance is small, it extends in every direction. I know it is a cliche, but in Britain we dont manufacture anything so when we need a part for a tool it always has to be ordered or replaced, whereas, Maurizio in his perfect English would say ‘What size is the tool and show a huge selection of parts?’ The British mindset is ‘if it is old, let’s replace it’, but the Italians will mend everything. If a nail can be straightened then it will be tapped until straight; nothing is wasted.
It may be cheaper to buy new nails, especially when you are paying a builder by the hour, but this is not the Italian way, tap,tap,tap.
This attitude to age is in the Italian’s blood, whether people, plants or objects. In the countryside many olive trees are over a 1000 year old; they would have been pruned annually, but no one would ever consider chopping them down and replacing them.
What is so unique about Italy are the old fashion values. Everyone is accepted at face value and no one is hurried. If you require a particular item, they will discuss it with you for hours, even though the queue has grown to over twenty and is winding out of the door.
Nothing is too much trouble. If something is required, the 3 wheeler van will zoom off and collect. There is no ‘white van man’ in Italy, just a man on 3 wheels.
Opposite the shop is a very popular Gelateria (ice cream parlour), but you will never see the boys in there – they are too busy, the heart beat of the town, whether selling or ordering more stock, just so another gadget can be mended, the Italian way.