Day 31 – Fabriano

The main piazza in Fabriano is nearly empty in the early morning.

Fabriano’s name is based on the word “fabro” which means “blacksmith.” Around the town historic murals and plaques on walls and buildings depict blacksmiths working with iron.

Debra, a member of our group, buys shoes from Titi, the woman on the left. Titi bubbles with energy and enthusiasm, sharing bits of her life in Fabriano with us.

Like many Italian towns, Fabriano is divided into neighborhoods, each with its banners and legends. These banners are still hanging after a recent event.

We walk to the site of the Miliani Paper Factory, founded in 1782, which used to employ many Fabriano residents. Now the paper factory has moved to the outskirts of town.

Fabriano is known for its watermarks which show up when a light is shone behind on paper.

We meet Anna Rita Librari, who makes watermarks for the paper museum. It is an exacting work and few people know how to do it. Her watermarks are collected internationally.

We are fascinated with her work and her ability to walk in her spiked-heel shoes over Fabriano’s cobblestones.

Next we visit Sandro Tiberi, who shows us his innovative ways of making paper.

At the paper museum, located in a former monastery, we see a re-creation of the water-driven paper machine that pounded rags into paper in medieval times.

Fabriano invented a technique of using sizing that contributed to its success as a paper making center. The museum displays a device that allowed papermakers to create sizing from animal skins. A fire under the vessel heated up and melted the skins so that the paper could be lowered on the sides and dipped onto the substance.

The guide shows a model of a more modern paper making machine that performs all steps of the process.

We each take turns making paper sheets with the master paper maker Roberto. The technique differs from what most of us normally do, so it’s challenging to make a good sheet.

The museum is showing an exhibit of watercolors from around the world.

Roberto turns the wheel, then presses a button that further presses the paper, squeezing out the excess water.

We eat dinner at a local place whose menu shows a great awareness of food sensitivities.

Tomorrow we’re off to Gubbio for a bookmaking workshop.

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