Meet Luciano, Crystal Master : His workshop and shop is called La Grotta del Cristallo, that in English translates as the Crystal Cave and it’s located in the small town of Colle Val d’Elsa , near Siena, renowned for crystal production and decoration.
Città del Cristallo – City of Crystal
Mistakenly ignored by tourist itineraries, as reported in a nice article by “Tuscanypeople “ in “ Il borgo toscano più (ingiustamente) ignorato dal turismo”, Colle Val d’Elsa is an interesting hamlet of Etruscan origin, perched on top of a hill whose modern part has developed at the foot of the hill, thus essentially forming two independent villages: Colle Alta & Colle Bassa.
Contended for centuries between the two rival cities of Siena and Firenze, the town is also crossed by the famous Via Francigena, a detail that guaranteed its wealth. Over time, Colle earned the name of Città del Cristallo (City of crystals) for its production of crystal objects and its museum – Museo del Cristallo– is suggestively located in a building that once was one of the furnaces of a nineteenth-century crystal factory.
Glass production started in Colle in the sixteenth century and today this little town, by itself, represents 95% of the Italian crystal manufacturing and roughly 15% of the worldwide production.
Luciano Bandinelli lives here and his workshop and showroom can be found in the charming old part of Colle, on top of the hill : Colle Alta. Son of a Master Molatore (molatura is the name of the technique used to engrave and draw into crystal), Luciano learned his art from his father and together participated to the founding of the Crystal Consortium.
La Grotta del Cristallo is a unique location with vaults built in the stone. A cave dating back to 1370 with travertine enhancing the transparency and brilliance of the cut crystal in a combination of light and color. Luciano’s unique and exclusive work is engraved and polished with old techniques but displaying a contemporary touch and style characteristic of his artisanal production.
The man has a medieval face, you can easily imagine him in his workshop dressed as a medieval artisan. He is friendly and almost shy when it comes to presenting his work but, as soon as he starts explaining, you see his eyes light up and you immediately understand that this, to him, is more a passion than a job.
It is definitely one of the places to add to your visit and of course one of the special places we include in our Artisan Tours @Chiarastuscany . Just for us, Luciano will make our visit a bit more unique…but this is something I won’t tell you in the blog. You’ll have to come !