At the base of the Madonie mountains in Sicily, you will find the very first violin-maker’s workshop of the region. The skilled hands responsible for this history-making feat are those of Mirco Inguaggiato. And before you imagine a crotchety old man of days long past, let me tell you that Mirco is a millennial. He just happens to be a millennial who chose "lutist" as his profession.
Born and raised in Petralia Sottana, Mirco’s passion for music and woodworking started when he was a child. After all, he came from three generations of carpenters. As he grew up practicing the family trade and playing music, he eventually decided to marry his two passions into one satisfying and artistic career.
The first instruments Mirco crafted were representative of the Sicilian musical tradition. In particular, he produced wind instruments like piffere, zampogne and flauti di canna.
While these were incredible achievements, Mirco nursed a desire to also build his own stringed instruments. This drive led him directly to Gubbio's Lutists and Bow-Makers School, founded in 1978 by the Master Guerriero Spataffi. Mirco obtained his diploma in 2011 and along with it the knowledge of construction of bows and plucked instruments.
Now back in his hometown atelier, Mirco makes instruments with fine, naturally seasoned woods of prime quality. He also restores older instruments, bringing them back to their former glory in sight and sound.
If you entered his quaint studio in the historic centre of Petralia Sottana, you would find a humble work table. Probably there would be violin in mid-construction, as delicate as a child on an operating table. From the ceiling there would be mandolins, guitars, violas and violins hanging like the marionettes of the Sicilian tradition.
The number of different domains that an artist like Mirco needed to master in order to practice this profession is nearly incomprehensible. First he has an extensive working knowledge of instruments, obviously woodworking and knowledge of wood types, excellent hand control for cutting on a much smaller scale, design skills and technical musical skills to top it all off!
However the most important skill according to Mirco is patience, since these individual projects ask for several months of commitment. With the utmost precision and fine detail, a guitar can take three to four months to make, while a violin can take around six months. Each and every piece born in this workshop is a unique work of art. Aside from being entirely handmade, Mirco also prides himself on the connection with the client commissioning the piece. He believes it is important to know exactly what the client is looking for and what the intended usage of the instrument will be as it will inform his relationship to the piece while he works on it for months on end.