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Arts & Culture

À la recherche des objets perdus

Photography by Lorenzo Butti

There is a hint of verse in the rhythm of Lucia’s speech, the meter lengthening the words in the way of those born in the middle lake area. Originally from Bellagio, Lucia Sala is the author of a series of books on Lake Como in which she invites us to leisurely take in the alleyways of the villages, and to explore the great villas, churches, small chapels and hermitages that dot its shores and its mountain peaks. Lucia, whose name means carrier of light, sheds her own light on the lake and conserves its traditions and customs even in her personal collection of common objects that have now fallen into disuse, now in a large room on the ground floor of her home in Bellagio.

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The Lake Como gondola was a traditional boat for transporting freight. It was a large vessel with a Roman sail, rudder and arches to hoist the canvasses and protect the goods from the elements.

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In the old shipyards, long and narrow nails were used to secure the structure of the boats. Once they were in the wood there were riveted and folded back to ’sew’ the boat’s planking.

They are articles that belonged to her family or that have donated by those who have come to know about her personal museum. There is no specific order; the artefacts are grouped by common sense or by appearance, like the old keys arranged over more than one whole wall, hung like small works of art. Lucia painstakingly labels the exhibits in her local dialect and indicates what each was used for. There are ingenious tools designed to meet the needs of other times, which we struggle now to work out what they were for behind their hidden history. “There is also a pair of small clogs, which belonged to my grandmother“ she says, “and the ’filarello’ spinning machine she used to turn raw wool into yarn.

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The fishing nets were repaired with the netting needle and hook.

“I feel a real emotion when I think of the people who used these old tools. Eventually I want to gather them together into a complete catalogue of images and text descriptions, but I would first like to finish the publishing project on Bellagio, (ed. last December the second volume of ’Scoprire Bellagio’ on the little villages in that area came out) and also to complete the third book on Civenna and the mountains. I have loads of material on Breglia...“ .

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At one time fishing nets made of atural fibres, dyed with pot-boiled hestnut husks that gave them a articularly dark camouflaged and ater-fast colour.

Lucia never stops, she still collects, “though only a few small things now, because I have run out of space“, she explores, takes notes, does research, and stops time to bring us back memories of that which is no longer. As the philosopher Karl Popper said, tradition is by far the main source of our knowledge.