Our most recent adventure with Creative Edge Travel brought us to the medieval town of Anghiari, near Arezzo. This having been our third outing with Creative Edge Travel, we found that our favorite thing about their trips is that you are immersed in the local culture. They made us feel like less of an observer, from the outside looking in, but rather have welcomed us to participate and be amongst the people who call this beautiful country home.
The day began with us exploring the hilltop town with its lovely cobblestone streets and lavish gardens. The small town is not highly traveled, which made our overall experience even better. This is not a place where you will find giant crowds of tourist snapping selfies, instead you will find artisan shops, charming locals, gorgeous gardens and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. After our walk through town, we set off to visit the artisan workshop of one of Italy’s last masters of intarsia (decorative wood inlay), Mastro Santi.
Mastro Santi welcomed us into his shop, where he and his apprentices produce beautifully unique woodwork. As he shared his story, we learned about his many areas of interest and how he learned the technique of intarsia and later began teaching at the local school. In true renaissance artistic spirit, he uses many mediums such as writing, painting, woodworking and playing the guitar to express himself. His passion for his craft is evident as he takes his time to choose his words very carefully to articulate the intricacies of what he does. The teacher in him shines through when he speaks of using traditional hand made techniques, but not being afraid to integrate new technology to better help manifest his art.
All of us had the opportunity to make our own little piece of art, under his watchful eye, to take home with us. Through completing our projects, we learned just how much effort and detail goes into all the beautiful woodwork that he produces. Everyone left his shop with a greater appreciation for the traditional technique of Intarsia.
Creative Edge Travel has done an amazing job building relationships with locals that welcome travelers into their otherwise unexplored worlds. Our day in Anghiari and our journey into the world of intarsia in Mastro Santi’s workshop made for a unique travel experience that I recommend to anyone looking to immerse themselves in Italian culture. Let Creative Edge Travel take you on a journey like no other to discover authentic Italy.