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From accordion to new tech
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - Its origins are shrouded in legend, and refer to a mysterious Austrian pilgrim returning from a visit to the Loreto shrine, who towards the middle of the 19th century found himself in Castelfidardo, a small town in the Marches. In an old country farmhouse, situated in the Musone Valley, he was offered hospitality by the family of Antonio Soprani, his wife Lucia and his children Settimio, Paolo, Pasquale and Nicola. The pilgrim carried with him a rather rudimentary "box" from which he extracted very pleasing sounds. Paolo Soprani, the nineteen-year old son, very inventive and no doubt also quite musical, was impressed by this "box". The story goes that the instrument landed up in Paolo's hands because he was given it by the pilgrim in gratitude for the hospitality received, or that perhaps during the night the young man took it to pieces to study its workings. In any event, it is certain that leading from the curiosity and the insight of that nineteen-year old peasant the story of the Italian accordion industry began.
So it was that the first workshop began in 1864, in the cellars of that same farmhouse, and then, because more space was needed, it was moved to a house a short distance away, and extra workers were taken on. The first accordions built by Paolo Soprani were sold at fairs and in markets in the nearby towns. Success was immediate. To meet the ever-growing number of orders, there was a need for a more spacious workshop so as to put the work system on to an industrial footing and to provide a better marketing structure. Paolo Soprani, together with his sons Luigi and Achille, then went on to open a new factory and in 1900 received recognition, beginning to export their instruments throughout the whole of Europe.
From this imaginative beginning, a closely- knit web of small artisan enterprises began, ending with the establishment of what today is called the polisectoral industrial district of Castelfidardo, Osimo and Recanati. More than 2000 productive units, with around 22 thousand employees, introduced into a context which has witnessed, over the course of the last two decades, the development of firms that began from an environment for the construction of musical instruments, then became specialised in a very high-quality niche market, including micro-electronics, cabinet making, nuts and bolts, precision and machine tools.
From Castelfidardo and Loreto, where the first accordion makers began their activities, the initiative spread to neighbouring small towns, and now make up an integrated industrial web involving about 52 municipalities. A complex process, which began from the industrialisation of accordion production, and afterwards other musical instruments, falling within a much wider panorama. Decentralised productivity, already begun in the Sixties, became essential to guarantee the highest standards of production - and were recognised at a world level - at the same time facing up to competition from new emerging countries. An accordion consists of 10 thousand components, all of a very different nature, and the rationalisation of production led to a decentralised production of these specialised parts. Small firms were therefore created, dedicated to the making of these specific parts. They then went on to carry out similar manufactures for productive sectors quite different from that of musical instruments. This is the case, for example, of microelectronics, developed in the production of electronic organs and that for the precision-working of small plastic components, which began with the supply of small parts for accordions, and both of these have found broader marketing outlets.
From here originated the choice to give a polisectoral identity to the district of Castefidardo, Osimo and Recanati, leaving at its core the original industry for musical instruments. Today, in fact, almost two-thirds of the firms work in sectors of highly specialised production, producing traditional industrial components, but there is also a broad spectrum of other firms producing for the international market.
Area: Marches Region
Specialised production: musical instruments
Number of towns: 52
Surface area: 900 km°
Population: 110.000 inhabitants
Number of firms: 2000
Export quota of sales: 50 percent