What if I told you that in my 42 years of age, I’d never visited Maniago? You wouldn’t believe me, right? Well, it’s true, I’d never been here! But it’s easily fixed: I happily accepted the invitation I got from the Maniago Municipaity to come here and have a look…
SMITHS AND CUTLERY
Maniago, the city of knives, celebrates its blacksmith tradition every year by organizing the “Coltello in Festa” festival, which has been bringing the focus to the city and its artisans since 2002.
This year, the festival is going to be held on 4th and 5th of September, so, save the date! What will you find here? Mostly, two things.
A showing market of cutlery: local blacksmiths show and sell their crafts along the streets of the historical center of the city, and you may directly buy from them.
A showing of custom cutlery crafts: craftsmen who come from the all over country and abroad exhibit their blades. They’re marvellous.
In non-covid times, the Maniago center used to host many demonstrations and there were many shuttles that left from the Museum of Smiths and Cutlery and took people to the companies that make the blades.
Needless to say, at the moment all of this has been put on hold… BUT Yours Truly went to have a little look for you…
Pecos. Since 1940, they have been passing this tradition on to the next generation, like every other business around here. In the laboratory they mainly create knives from the Sardinian tradition in different shapes and sizes. They’re works of art, with handles made of ox, buffalo, or mutton.
But be careful! Here, they don’t only make knives…but corkscrews, too! Indeed, Farfalli offers customizations to companies and collaborates with many well-known wine producers and associations like AIS. They put the design on their own projects or, if their clients ask for it, they make new masterpieces out of many different materials: steel, carbon fiber, titanium and they also insert some murrhines.
But let’s stay on the knife path and let’s continue with Maserin. Three brothers manage this company, which counts 18 employees. They start from a stainless-steel sheet and a laser cutter, and they create wonderful things! Their main and most common product is a mushroom knife, with handles made of different woods but they also have many international collaborations. Maserin has created the knife for the Diabolik movie and has been working with many law enforcement units (for whom they create tactic knives). Do you want some names? Frecce Tricolori, Italian Police, Army and Carabinieri are just a few…they also have collaborations with people in the sports domain and, most recently, with starred chefs.
To conclude and to understand that in Maniago you can find everything that cuts, you must go to Wictor, a company that was born to make scissors. Although, with the arrival of the Chinese competitor, they evolved and decided to produce cutting utensils for manicure and pedicure, for professional estheticians and podiatrists. Have you ever wondered how many steps it takes to make a pair of tweezers? 20! And a nail clipper? 55!
After having witnessed with my own eyes the skill and precision with which these companies work, I can guarantee that I will never argue again on the cost of a craft utensil: behind a simple knife there are a lot of patience, passion and dedication.
And I’ll tell you more. You can’t come to Maniago and expect to fully understand its spirit without visiting the Museum of Smiths and Cutlery.
It’s in the city center and in 2009 they have turned the first blade factory, born in 1907, into a museum. Here, you will find the whole history of blades from the 15th century up until today. It’s a place suitable for all ages and for sight-impaired people.
Having seen both historical machines and modern processing, you’ll exit the museum with a 360° vision on the story of this beautiful corner of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
WHERE TO EAT
As in every trip worthy of this name, you’ll have to stop and wonder “where am I going to eat?”. So there you go, with some very recommendable places.
Trattoria alla Casasola is managed by a Romanian couple, Florina and Marian: she cooks, he serves. They moved out here and in a little time they managed to learn the local recipes really well! Everything is great, from the savory to the dessert. The unquestionable protagonist is the meat, enriched by local wines.
Be careful though, because they’ll move to Casa Valcellina during autumn and they’ll start a new project that mixes hospitality and good food. There’s nothing left to do but wait…
If you’re craving some good fish, my advice is to go to the restaurant Parco Vittoria: you’ll find it inside the facility which hosted me, the Eurohotel. You’ll have some fish delicacies in a splendid dining room that faces the very well-kept park. The menu? Have a look here…
Or maybe you’d like to trust young and creative Michele from Antica Trattoria Tre Torri. Well, he will not disappoint. In a courtyard, a door opens to the tradition of Frico and Polenta…but they also combine modernity and the flavors of this territory by plating their dishes in a very colorful and tasty way! The fried frog legs with a mango sauce, the blue risotto made with blue pea flowers and the crunchy speck from Sauris have absolutely left a mark on my tastebuds! Try and see!
What did you say? You’d like to dive into Maniago’s oldest tradition? Well, then you’ll have to stop at Noè Antonini’s buthcery. You have to taste the “Peta di Noè”, it’s definitely a must. It’s a kind of pitina, a sort of smoked salame in the shape of a ricotta cheese: it’s made according to the traditional recipe which asks for game meat or sheep. In this heaven you’ll also find many other local foods…and what’s more interesting is that this isn’t a common butchery! Here, you may also buy what you’d like to eat and sit down, eat it and have everything with a good glass of wine. Your guide through the tastings will be Alessandro: he may seem a little bit rough at the beginning, but then he’ll open up and he’ll reveal his sharp, cynical irony!
Last but not least, the Polesel Butchery. I’m telling you, brace yourselves with Kleenex, because you’ll be moved: they’ve been butchers for 4 generations and here Daniele works with his mom, but the work they put into it is ASTONISHING. Because every cured meat you’ll find here is made in the sausage factory. From the pittuccia, to the bresaola, turkey breast, roast beef, sausages and salame. Everything is managed by Daniele, who has learnt everything from his dad.
If you’re curious to discover the real taste of cured meat, a stop ad Polesel’s is MANDATORY! Here you can also taste the products they sell and a glass of wine, as they have a license to sell all of this. What an appetizer…!
NATURE AND RELAX
But the moment has come to burn all these calories, to admire the wonders “around the corner” from Maniago and to dive into a pool of nature and into the woods that these places offer to the travelers.
You can simply walk through them, but my advice is to address Piazza Sport and to rent a bike (the not-so-sporty like me may opt for an electric one). Once you’re on the bike, everything will be easier. And there’s more: if you don’t want to leave alone, Piazza Sport can place a guide by your side…and what a guide! Mine made me discover a small piece of what seemed like Eden.
I was speechless when the Val Colvera and Landris path took me to Frisanco and I arrived to the Blue Lagoon.
To end on a good note, a little bit of relax is always appreciated, isn’t it? So, I tried the “Forest Bath” with Anna Lazzati by my side from Guida Naturalistica.it as a guide. It was a Japan-inspired experience, and a very relaxing one, too. I spent two hours surrounded by the woods, listening to what nature had to say, and I found my long-lost relax, a rare thing to happen in this frenetic life of ours.
I’d like to conclude my mini guide on Maniago with this mystical image. I hope I’ve made you curious enough…it was my first time around here and I hope I’ll be back really soon because there’s yet a lot to do, to see… and to eat.
Mandi Mandi my friends!