Lucca - Iron

Carlo Galgani, in a valley of the Municipality of Pescaglia, province of Lucca

Carlo Galgani, 82 years old, is the last member of his family that has been passing down the knowledge of iron craft since the 1500s. He is the last remaining blacksmith in the province of Lucca, and probably the last in Italy, who still forges iron with a water powered trip hammer. Of his two anvils, the ‘new’ one was bought by his grandfather in 1910. The old one has been in his family since the 1700s. Already working as a blacksmith when he was eight years old, he used to ride a donkey to get to his workshop in the valley until the first road was built in the 1970s. He specializes in agricultural, gardening tools and knives, and lately, swords for medieval enactments.

His nephew Nicola has joined him recently to keep the family tradition alive. Seeing them work side by side was one of the most touching experiences of my journey. The rhythmic sound of hammering—a bit like techno—accompanied by the crackling fire, the running water, and spinning wheels, made the visit feel like stepping into a capsule frozen in time.. The walls of his workshop were blackened by centuries of soot from the open fires.

The walls of Carlo Galgani’s workshop, blackened by centuries of open fires