Il Decamerone in Fonderia

The foundry chief since the time of Ferdinando Marinelli Sr. founder of the homonymous Artistic Foundry, was Miniato Miniati (fig. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6) very special character. The work in the foundry for Miniato was a mission: he spent more time there than at home. Ferdinando Marinelli Sr. managed the Foundry in a patriarchal manner (fig. 7, 8), as in a Renaissance workshop. Miniato was also a great storyteller, he never tired while working of telling the very young nephew Ferdinando Marinelli Jr. that he often frequented the Foundry (fig. 9), the stories and pranks that occurred between the artisans, but also with the sculptors who frequented that environment. They were naive pranks, of medieval flavor, as used among the workers and artisans of the early 1900s.

The longest and most complex prank was that made to one of the workers, Angiolino (fig. 10, 11, 12). He was an old worker, hunchbacked, wiry, with a body as hard as a wall, stingy in a pathological manner. One day, in speaking, the wax-retoucher Piero began to say that his salary was no longer enough for him, that he had to marry, and things like that. For several days he continued with this old story. At one point he added that he had to look for a double job to do in the evening and on Sundays, and he continued like this for a fortnight. Then he leaned over and said nothing more for a few weeks. One day Angiolino asked him ” did youe find that other job?”, And Piero said yes. Stop. In short, he did so much that Angiolino was no longer in the skin of curiosity. And he began to ask him what job he had found, what he did, how much he earned. And Piero replied that he had found a representative of coffins, and that he earned himself well. The thing went on for another month. One day Piero turned to Angiolino and said “do you want to save money? I have a coffin. It is used, but they have used it little, the dead man has been taken away immediately. And it costs a third of a new one and is the right size for you”. Angiolino then said, “I don’t want it, damn you! ” But Piero insisted “in any case in a wile you will need it”,
Angiolino answered “hopefully late”. And Piero “Soon or late, but you will need it. And you will spend capital. This costs almost nothing, and it is your size “. “I don’t want it! And in any case where I will put it? “. “Put it under the bed.” “But I don’t have the money!”, “I give it to you and you pay for it a little at a time, so when you die, it is beautifully paid”. In short, he convinced him. And after having convinced and agreed upon the payment system, everyone laughed and told him it was a joke. “Damn you and those who gave birth to you,” Angiolino said, very angry, took off his work jacket and left, and for a week did not return to work.

Miniato loved to tell of his terrible illness: he drunk water from a source from which everybody used to drink but he came typhoid. They took him to the hospital, opened his belly, pulled out all his guts, soaked them in the spirit to disinfect them, put them back in place, and he healed. And he wanted everyone, in the foundry and outside, to believe him, otherwise he would start screaming and get terribly angry.

The chiseller whom everyone called with his surname “Tucci” (fig. 13, 14) was an amateur actor, and sometimes during the working hours he created small comedies. Once he was asked by others to organize, during working hours, a small theatrical representation in the foundry. They proposed him a comedy in which from behind the scene the protagonist had to recite some sentences, and then enter the scene. Tucci said that without a curtain it could not be done, but they told him that he could hide in the wardrobe of his room, and come out at the right time in the “scene”. When he entered the wardrobe, the others locked it, played their part, and when it was time to let him out they began to pretend that the lock had jammed. And in this way they kept him in a couple of hours. He came out angry, also because, having married a certain Rovini, they continued teasing him saying that his theatrical company was the “tu-cci rovini” (you spoil us).

Dante (known as Dantino because of his stature) (fig. 15, 16) another worker, had brought himself to eat an egg to make it hard, together with a loaf of bread and a liter of wine. The others took the egg from him secretly, they made in it the two canonical holes, they drank it, filled it with plaster and plastered the two holes. Dantino, at lunch time, took the egg and put it to boil in the pan. Then he pulled it out of the water and peeled it. The egg was beautiful white and compact. He ate a bite of bread and bit into the egg. The consequence is easily imaginable. He picked up the working knife and wanted to stab everyone. The wax maker Piero, a skilled cook, calmed the waters because in the meantime he had made a large pan of pasta, and they all started eating together.

Ezio (fig. 17, 18) was a very primitive worker who gave little confidence, spoke little and in a way that was not well understood: he swore or grunted. His face was simian, his mouth was a slit with no lips. It was of communist anarchist ideas. He showed his sympathy for someone by slightly pulling up one side of his mouth when he saw it, in what must have been a hint of a smile. One day, while he was holding a knife, he was seized by a raptus and pounced on Aldo Marinelli, one of the suns of Ferdinando Marinelli Sr. Everyone ran over and stopped him. He was asked the reason for the gesture, and the answer was a couple of blasphemies followed by “he talks too much”.

The pranks did not spare anyone, not even the very young Ferdinando Marinelli Jr .: he was sent to the near hardware store to buy a pound and a half of “bell tower shadow”. Ferdinando was happy thinking that it was some substance that was used in waxes or for patinas. After all in the foundry they used the “sulfur liver”, the “cat powder”, the “fish glue”, the “Greek pitch”, the “shellac of the angels”, the “spirit”, the “carbide”, the “borax”, the “cinabrese”, the “salt of cadmium”, and there was no reason therefore for a child to think that they did not also use the “shadow of campanile” as a dye or similar. He knew that the “terra di Siena” and the “burnt terra di Siena ” existed. He thought that if someone burned Siena to get powder of a special color, he could have called the “bell tower shadow” something else. He went to the shop, saying that they sent him from the Marinelli Foundry for a pound and a half of “bell tower shadow”, and showed them the money they had given him. The shop owner was puzzled, he didn’t know what the “bell tower shadow” was. He asked him “but they said so, are you sure they want the “shade of a bell tower”? Won’t they want another thing? “Ferdinando insisted on the “shadow of a bell tower”. “I don’t have it, but I will call the the trade representative” was at the end the answer. When he returned to the foundry to tell what the shop owner had told him, then yes they all fell back from laughing, because the prank had been made, unwillingly, to the finisher. Then they said “try to see if at least there are 30 grams of “anchovy mustache”. The boy returned, asked for the “anchovy mustache”, and then the hoax was discovered, and the owner, red with shame and embarrassed, said to him “go home you child, we don’t have time to lose!” The boy thought that the shop was not supplied at all, and that they didn’t understand much. He returned to the foundry, and everyone laughed again. Then him, but he didn’t understand, and the joke against him faded away. From that day on that owner of the shop was called “shadow of the bell tower”.


To the news archive