Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Who knows if Adelfa Santucci, from Castellina in Chianti, known by everybody as Marcella, believes in destiny.

As a young woman she would never have imagined that her job, a casual choice at the time, would today prove to be a lifesaver.

“I need to keep my head out of other things”, she reveals to us, as she’s busy embroidering.

Marcella is in her eighties, and she’s one of the last embroiderers of our time. She receives us in her room, which is also the place where she works. On the table, carefully displayed, there are doilies, tablecloths and tea towels, all beautifully embroidered by hand.

“I was born in Vagliagli, but I have lived for many years in Radda in Chianti. As a child I used to collect pieces of thread and fabric and put them together. I already knew how to make gloves, hats, and wool socks. My grandmother had taught me” she tells us.

“It was 1970 when Marcella Gallurini forced me to learn the art of embroidery. She was our neighbour and had worked for a long time in San Donato where she used to make towels, sheets, and tablecloths. So I bought a sewing machine, which is the one I still use today. The needle does not have an eye, but rather a hook to embroider “.

“At the beginning I wasn’t very good – she admits – it was difficult to learn. We started working together for a company in Poggibonsi, “Massetina”. We used to make dressing gowns”.

“In 1980, however, I had to stop, when my husband and I decided to take over management of Bar Italia in Castellina in Chianti. We ran it for ten years, until we had to leave because it had become too tiring”.

But something made her go back to needle work: “One day the Municipality of Castellina asked me if I wanted to exhibit and sell my creations during the Festa della Pentecoste. I accepted immediately. From that moment on I haven’t stopped embroidering “.

“I don’t do it for money,” she concludes with a smile. “It’s my thing, I like it and it makes me feel good. I’m not old, I’m … a different kind of young”.

Jessica Nardi