The Lorenzis, cutlers in Montenapoleone, Milano, came from Val Rendena in Trentino, in the north of Italy. The valley, before acquiring its various resources of today, once scarcely used to produce enough grass in summer to feed the cattle.
This task, during the long harsh winter, was performed by the old men and women, whilst the younger more enterprising men would set off, pushing their portable grinders, in order to find a new source of work elsewhere. This emigration commenced in the second half of the last century. Giovanni Lorenzi, born at Mortaso in 1899, was one of these emigrants. After spending a few years in Germany as a grinder's boy, in 1919 he came to Milano with his brothers in order to put into practice the things that he had learnt through experience.
At first, grinding was the only source of income and the sale of knives, scissors and other accessories was only occasional and solely upon request. However, it was actually due to this slow start that Giovanni Lorenzi was able to specialize in his work, by absorbing knowledge a little at a time. He also used to keep his children by his side and whilst they were engaging in childhood games with their toy trains made from empty razor blade packets, from some broken spare parts and whatever else they could find, they were in fact learning, almost unconsciously, their father's profession. They were moulding themselves and developing their sense of observation and experimentation.
The Lorenzis travel the world keeping en eye open for what is well thought out and well made. By taking the finest details and using them at opportune moments, they can find out new ideas for new creations. So there comes the difficult task of selecting the best craftsmen, who even after having been found, are not always willing to accept this unusual occupation, due to their regular practice of mass production activities. Thus comes the necessity to create the most prestigious pieces on one's own. In these articles, besides the selection of valuable materials, there is a wish to revert back to the natural ones; the desire to supply something that will last and not an object that has to be thrown away at the first sign of trouble. This is a principle of professional ethic which reveals the love for nature and for the environment to which the Lorenzi family have always conformed its activity. Wood, horn, leather, copper, brass; all reminders of mountain huts, woods and animals. Of course, natural materials are very delicate and more easily ruined both during manufacture and with use, and therefore there must be a closer relationship with the customer who has to accept these specific characteristics. In order to achieve this, there must be shop-assistants who really cooperate. They should love their job and be ready to increase their knowledge in order to transmit it to the client and in turn learn from the customer himself. Everyone may contribute to establish the Lorenzis' experience. A phrase once said by a customer pondering over two objects, intended for the same use but built in a different way and so varying in price was: "I will buy the best one because I am not rich enough to afford the luxury of spending less". This quote was one of many not forgotten during the years.
Edda Chiodini Lorenzi