Conceria dell’Orologio lives again. Since the beginning of 2017, in fact, casaconcia has been opened. It is a new cultural and exhibition space, owned by the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, that aims to propose initiatives of promotion and valorization of local entities, not only from Ponte a Egola, but also from the whole area of Valdarno di Sotto. Artists can participate by invitation or by contacting directly, without intermediaries, the Consortium Cultural Committee that will review all the requests.
casaconcia is also offering historic and archaeological initiatives, photo exhibitions, theatre plays and food&wine meetings. Space will be given also to the dissemination of literary knowledge in cooperation with local schools.
The history of Ponte a Egola and Conceria dell’Orologio
It would take many centuries until the village of Ponte a Egola was finally formed from the very early hamlets of Fornaci, Tognarino, and Il Ponte. Although some houses existed already in the 14th century around the bridge on the Egola river, and it seems that a grain market was in activity at the end of the sixteenth century, historical documents talk about a village only in 1811, during the Napoleonic domination. As regards leather tanning, some say that the “tanning school” has drawn its methods from towns nearby: Pescia, Livorno and Pisa. Others, such as Franco Foggi, state that the “school” was French arrived together the Napoleonic army, as the legend says of a bale of leather fallen by a Napoleonic barrier. This narration seems plausible for Santa Croce where in the early nineteenth century the tanneries of Prò, Banti and Pacchiani already existed , as widely documented by a vast literature.
Ponte a Egola has a different story. Dani’s family (Pasquale and Averardo) who had been carters, then merchants of tanning barks, of holm oaks and oaks, and then owners, began to soak the skins into some vats or pits, in a tiny space in Vicolo del Fuoco between the first and second half of the nineteenth century. The first oral memory of the little tannery of Dani’s family dates back to 1836. Andreina, the daughter of Averardo Dani, tells about relationships with Livorno where her grandparents would have learned the notions of that art, marked by alchemical and obscure mixtures and mysteries.
According to history, in order not to be accused of too much ease, it is possible to report what is written in plain terms in Filza degli stati delle anime della parrocchia di Cigoli del 1852: “Placido Damiani son of Pietro, son of Mario Degli Innocenti, tanner, departed from the parish of Cigoli to that of Stibbio.” And beneath the hill of Stibbio, at that time, there was the Dani’s tannery that was built near Fontino (water fountain) so that it could draw enough water for those early tanning experiments. Later on, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the small tannery was abandoned and a large factory was built, which, with the renovations of 1882, provided work for forty workers and had its own mill to grind the bark, and the clock, pride of the town. It was Conceria dell’Orologio where the Marianelli were first affiliated and then owners, and so remained until the end of the activity in the eighties of the twentieth century.
Conceria dell’Orologio, in 1990s, was in the essential interests of Association for Ponte a Egola, just formed, which operated in collaboration with many inhabitants to ensure the opening of Egolandia Library in the adjacent area to the new headquarters of Consortium. Egolandia was futher consolidated thanks to the patronage of Marinella Marianelli, who would have deserved the library to be named to her memory.