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La Giostra dei Sette
The Game of Sevens is based on the adventure film First Knight (1995), directed by Jerry Zucker. The film is inspired by the story of King Arthur, Geneva and Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table. It is a competition between two opponents: Player A, by means of a gear connected to a chain and a cart, must move seven characters (three knights, a jester, a magician, a king and a queen), one at a time from their starting position to where their opponent, Player B, is. Meanwhile, Player B rotates a gear mechanism which uses two chains and a camshaft to swing seven axes across the path of the cart, thus preventing Player Aâ€™s characters from completing their journey. Player A has seven chances, one chance for each character. Each time a character is hit by an axe and falls, Player A must bring the cart back to the starting position and begin again with a new character. After their seven chances, the players swap positions. The winner is the player with the highest number of characters that complete the journey without getting knocked off the cart.
For nearly thirty years, I immersed myself in the music scene, from composing to concerts, soundtracks to Backliner, but after a meeting with Domenico Modugnoâ€™s pianist, M. Marcello Faneschi, the real breakthrough came.
A collaboration, which started over twenty years ago, and still continues today, which gave me the opportunity to learn the art of composing, after which I could finally devote myself to writing "symphonic music" for soundtracks.
Later, when I realized with regret that the music I was writing was no longer suitable for the modern world, I decided take another route.
Iâ€™ve always considered music to be a sort of game, a way to give vent to creativity, so one morning, still as a sort of game, after finding an old phone in my hands and creating a table lamp out of it, I came up with the idea of â€‹â€‹opening "La Bottega delle Idee" (â€œThe Workshop of Ideasâ€), a place where creativity could venture out in all its varied forms. Making things has always been an integral part of my life and so I tried to put it to fruition.
The creation of objects from recycled wood immediately began to bear fruit, both in terms of interest to the public as well as personal satisfaction. But I still felt there was something missing.
Over time, I began to create the first simple "toys" until one day, driven by the passion for the Renaissance period and above all the genius Leonardo Da Vinci, I wanted to create a game that used Leonardian gears. "The Elastic Machine F = kÎ´", was born after a few monthsâ€™ work: a model car driven by a pair of elastic bands and Leonardoâ€™s "Lantern" gear mechanism.
My imagination took off! I started thinking of more complex games and when I saw an old pinball machine at an antiques market, a light bulb was switched on, so to speak. After a few months the first "7th Quadrant" pinball machine was ready. Then the "Il Castello", "Il Drago" and "La Catapulta" pinball machines followed, all of which are handmade using recycled wood or leftover woodworking scraps, all inspired largely by Leonardo's mechanisms.
Hereâ€™s an article by the journalist, Luigi Franchi, on the blog "www.solobellestorie.it" entitled "If you could open a shop" that sums up the philosophy behind "La Bottega delle idee".
In the centre of Scarperia, anyone who wants to learn anything about the production of knives is spoilt for choice, as itâ€™s a tradition that has been handed down since the 1400s in this small village in Mugello. And it was the sign for the knife shop â€œFabbricanti di Ferri Taglientiâ€ which first attracted my attention. When I approached the shop however, there was another sign that caught my attention, a small card hanging from a window that read â€œThe Workshop of Ideas: recycling and creativityâ€.
After a few steps in the direction of a rather awful sound that, little by little, became clearer, I peered inside a room that looked out onto the street, where there was a man blowing into a strange trumpet.
"Come on, come in! Donâ€™t mind the mess." Thus I discovered the creative genius who goes by the name of Massimiliano Aiazzi.
"It's a trumpet made from an electric cable, a wooden pipe, a piece of a bottle and a bottle top, but you can play it eh? With a bit of patience you can play it and it sounds good. Listen ... "
As I listening to an improvised song, I took a look around and couldnâ€™t find any logical order to things: hangers that had been turned into dish racks, record players transformed into wall clocks, a harp made out of cans, which had become a harmonica.
"But who are you?" I ask a little strangely to the man.
"A composer, a craftsman, an inventor, a child ... you choose" he replies in that Tuscan accent that makes the world's tourists go crazy. And so the game began.
"A child," I say.
"Because of my inventions, Iâ€™m fond of games. Do you see this pinball machine? Iâ€™ll never sell it, even though it took three months to make. I often leave my work to try and finish it. And no offense, but youâ€™re not allowed to photograph it, otherwise people will copy it. "
Massimiliano shows me a renaissance-style pinball machine, all made out of wood, where, after a complicated route, the player kills the dragon and conquers the castle.
"The idea came to me while I was browsing a book with my partnerâ€™s daughter and I saw St Georgeâ€™s dragon. The children who come here every afternoon play with it. "
What? I ask a little astonished.
"Yes, the kids come in and play with my creations. Iâ€™ve made a rule though, that they have to put down their phones and only answer them if itâ€™s their parents calling, and then they play. What's more beautiful than being surrounded by children playing as you work? "
I go on: "Creative."
"What can I say? Iâ€™ve always liked making things, I made my bed and my wardrobe. I look at an object, from the opposite perspective, turn it upside down and discover that it can still be useful. See that phone? Press a number on the dial and it becomes a lamp. " And itâ€™s the same for every object in Massimiliano's workshop, like the sofa made from two sunbeds which had been thrown away.
"But when did you open?"
"Listen, a few years ago I found myself going through a rather difficult period of my life and one evening at the table with my parents, it came to me: God, if I could open a workshop ... A few days later, a friend of mine from childhood, showed me these rooms and entrusted them to me. It was 2014 and I opened the workshop in September in time for the Diotto. "
The Diotto is the Scarperiaâ€™s Palio, which falls on the 8th September every year and celebrates the founding of the village way back on that day in 1306.
"We all dress up in medieval costumes and, on that occasion, I put out the first games Iâ€™d invented. In one day, people played over 400 times, I counted them in hourglass, "Massimiliano confided.
"Artisan" I continue.
"I'm the solution to the standard. - he explained between amusement and multitasking. â€“ Here you can find small, silly gifts, like this small napkin holder made from a beach cabin, to a table someone commissioned which had to fit into a very tight space in his house. At Ikea youâ€™ll never find something that will fit so precisely. "
While Massimiliano greets a customer, I search on the Internet to find out more and discover that heâ€™s really a composer: he wrote the music for a film (Ten Girls), took part in an intriguing theatrical performance entitled Le partiture bacchiche; and played music, the keyboards, less than a couple of months ago, in Florence with Don Backy.
â€œComposerâ€ I say.
He shrugs it off with a joke â€œHo suonato tanto al Conservatorio, ma non mi hanno mai apertoâ€ (He tried to go to music school, but they wouldnâ€™t open the door).
"I have the prove" I say.
"Yes, I'm a composer, but unfortunately you canâ€™t make a living from classical music. And that's why I reinvented myself, but music is still the love of my life, I canâ€™t help it. I just hear the noise of a screwdriver rattling in a jar to think: it makes a good sound. "
This explains the mystery of why there are so many musical instruments made from recycled materials around: But canâ€™t you set up a small orchestra? I ask.
"I thought about it, and I also proposed a project to schools - to involve the kids, then, as usual, bureaucracy put a spoke in the wheel and it didnâ€™t get any further." But it could always be done.
Massimiliano is really all of these - a composer, a craftsman, an inventor, a child - and also something more: a person who does good in the times we live in, because he puts together the joy of creating with the wisdom of not wasting, simply by looking at an object from a different viewpoint.
I go away with a picture frame made from simple ropes and pegs: thirty euro for a small masterpiece of design and memories.