Off the Beaten Tracks… (but on the right way to happiness) :: Maufiki B&B

We all complain about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We are all looking for some quiet places where we can spend some days off. We always say that we need to get rid of mobile phones, computers and all those gimmicks that, like an invisible umbilical cord, keep us “connected”. But when we eventually find a place like this, a few minutes after we put down our suitcases, we start wondering if there is wi-fi connection, if our mobile provider is available, if there are enough plugs to recharge our energy-sucking devices.

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Places: Maiella National Park, Abruzzo, Italy

If you want to spend some days in the Maiella National Park, you won’t be much concerned about wi-fi connections or mobile coverage. Simply because you’ll be too busy at enjoying the landscape, hiking up and down the tracks on the Tavola dei Briganti, tasting typical recipes like pizza fritta, sagne e ceci and the delicious Sise delle Monache pastry.

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View of the town of Rapino, (Chieti)

Rapino (Chieti) is a small village in the Majella Park, a stone’s throw away from the Maielletta peak (ski area in wintertime, hiking paths galore in summer), from medieval villages like Giardiagrele, or “big” towns like Chieti.

In Rapino a good Appetibilis friend, Mauro Caramanico, renovated a former “frantoio” (oil mill, in local language “trappète”) and transformed it into a cosy b&b.

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Mauro Caramanico

I asked Mauro why he chose this building and the style he intended to give.

“When I first inspected the building, it was badly ruined but I immediately got good vibes from it. I recovered every single stone, every brick and I tried to “respect” it by using the original material to give it a new life.”

This does not mean that you’ll be living as in the XIII century. Modern luxuries (heating, air conditioning, fridge, shower) are available, no need to worry about that.

In his free time, Mauro likes traveling, but not so often as he would like to, so he thought that a nice way to have the world within a reach of hand is to rent his cosy flat to people from all over the world. Thanks to word of mouth and the magic of the net, Mauro can meet people from the US, France, Belgium, Germany.  He says “In this way I can meet new people, and they can get to know a corner of Italy off the beaten tracks”. Without Google Earth.

Contact: Mauro Caramanico
Mobile: +39 335 7609933
Telephone: +39 0871 440779
email: maufiki@alice.it

Portrait of a Blacksmith :: Filippo, the one and only Iron Man 72.0

In these days the Adriatic coast around Pescara is flooded with 2000+ participants to the IronMan Italy 70.3. Someone who, in a reasonable time, can swim about 2k, bike for 90k and run 21k can be regarded as an “iron” man (or woman). But someone who handles iron as if it were modeling clay and is able to create a piece of art from some scrap iron, he well deserves the name of “Iron Man”, too.

Filippo Scioli - Blacksmith in Guardiagrele, Chieti, Abruzzo photos: © Matelda Codagnone and © Lonza65

I met Filippo Scioli in his workshop in Guardiagrele, (Chieti, Italy), a mid-sized village nesting at the foot of the Maiella massif. Filippo is 72 and, when I asked him to describe himself, he just said “I am a blacksmith”. However, it is quite an understatement, since from Filippo’s anvil and hammer unique masterpieces come out. His father was a farrier and his grandfather’s job was farming tool maker. His main feature is that his artistic works (be it a dog, a rose or an andiron) do not need soldering because he just need one single piece of iron to accomplish his idea. He just need to hold some scrap iron in his hands and he knows exactly what he can obtain from it.

He likes to say that he is a “cittadino della Terra” (citizen of the Earth) because he does not like labels or definitions. “We’re all citizens of the Earth”, he says. And that is enough for him.

photo: © Lonza65

His works can be admired in Texas, Canada, Czech Republic and many other places, his presence is required at the most important arts and crafts fairs and Filippo rarely says no.

Just like the real great artists, he is not jealous of his skills, he willingly teaches everyone who is interested how to forge iron.

His workshop frequently hosts classes of students of every age, but Filippo’s eyes sparkle when he tells me about the disabled students that, on regular basis, visit his shop. “I don’t care if they don’t hit the iron, I am happy to teach them the things I can do.”

Filippo is like a river in full spate. While we talk, he is busy forging a rose with his hammer. I immediately realize that there is no noise inside the shop, but sound. And indeed, the hammer falling on the anvil creates a rhythm that Filippo composes every time he forges a new item. He says “iron talks, the hammer sings”.

You might think that this man in his Seventies is a laid-back guy. Not in the least. He radiates energy and stamina in every single move, his favorite music is country music – two cd players work at full blast in the shop and his favorite singer is Johnny Cash. This larger-than-life blacksmith is a man of parts. Besides being a talented craftsman, a big-hearted man, a great entertainer, he’s a poet, too. When the rose is finished, before we say “arrivederci”, he says these words.

photo: © Matelda Codagnone

“Come vedete, questa rosa non ha spine. Questa rosa non appassisce, non muore mai. Potremmo dire che è una rosa perfetta. Ma ahimè, al mondo niente è perfetto, anche questa ha il suo difetto. Il difetto che ha è che non profuma. Comunque, io c’ho messo il mio cuore di artigiano per farla. Chi la compra ci metterà il suo profumo.”

“As you can see, this rose has no thorns. This rose does not wither, it never dies. We can say that it is a perfect rose. But, alas, in this world nothing is perfect, this rose has its flaw. It has no smell. Anyway, I made it with all my craftsman’s heart. Whoever buys it, they will choose its fragrance.”

Next time you see some scrap iron, try to look at it with Filippo’s eyes. It may conceal a rose. And a fragrance, too.

Contact: Maestro Filippo Scioli
Mobile: +39 335 6073140
Telephone: +39 0871 86349
email: filipposcioli@email.it
Workshop: Via Occidentale, 21 – 66016 Guardiagrele (Chieti)