‘The measure of a life, after all, is not it’s duration, but it’s donation…’
We almost didn’t enter, even though I’ve been wanting to visit this shop since we arrived in the valley back in April. The double doors open onto a small workroom and as we peered in a man appeared. Now we had to enter, hands were shaken, ciaos exchanged and Sam (love him) did the talking, I feel as if I’ve stepped inside Aladdin’s cave, La Bottega del Restauro.
On every surface, from floor to ceiling my eyes are dazed, a million memories in this tiny room, the history of the valley. Italian Rustic gone into overdrive. After a few minutes he beckons us to follow…..’what’s he saying’ I hiss, and then I am left speechless.
The interior of Dario’s workroom is filled with tools, varnish, relics and ancient treasures….a giant key with an ornate headpiece is part of the fresco of old keys along the ceiling. I tell him one day he will find the door that fits that key (in my very broken Italian) and he laughs and nods. I feel as if I’ve met a kindred spirit, he just lights up when talking about his collection. Yes everything is for sale he assures us.
We enter a classic stairwell leading up through three floors of room after room filled with more than my eye can take in. Small vignettes are carefully set up telling little stories, and the beauty is that these aren’t displayed in some fashionable high street store but in an old home in the mountains where they came from. A living museum and the passion of one man who has been collecting for over 25 years.
I see items here that I have seen still in use in daily life at the borgata, things we have found in our own home, things that have been given to us knowing how passionate I am to preserve the history I find around me. All I can think about is how much my Mum would love this, she and I would be in here for days, I find the most delicate carved two story stationary holder, so fragile and a little broken on one leg….I gently place it back, when we are more financial I’ll be back with my twenty euro.
Sam starts calling me…..come here quick….following his voice down another flight of old stairs into the cellars, it’s much darker than these images show, a little cold and when my eyes adjust I could be in Madame Tussaud’s. More rooms, ancient doors and ducking heads to stop from hitting the beams, it’s just overwhelm, on every possible space another story, another memory.
The story of the valley people, the women and men I’ve come to love, a lifestyle that is slowly fading into history. Yet here in this unassuming building it has come to life again.
La Bottega del Restauro is online
You can also find La Bottega del Restauro on facebook
and the gang x