The Borgo of Cutting Tools

One-of-a-kind pieces: Frosolone’s claim to fame is as the town of hand-crafted knives and scissors. And these are not just any standardized, run of the mill cutting instruments, but genuine masterpieces of craftsmanship. Each piece is forged, melded and designed with meticulous care, to guarantee quality of course, but above all, out of respect for this age-old art.

The tradition of knife-making in Frosolone has ancient origins. In the 1931 historical study, “Frosolone dall’origine all’eversione del feudalesimo,” Michele Colozza dates the origins of this art back to the period in the Middle Ages when the South of Italy was under Lombard domination. At that time, Frosolone’s main occupations were agriculture and shepherding, and to facilitate the activities related to these sectors, they began to produce blades for making work tools.

At that time, the capitals of the Lombard reign were Venice and Padua, and Medieval documents attest to the migration of Venetian artisans to the South of Italy, and in Molise in particular there was a diffusion of the art of forging.

Between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, there was an intensified production of swords, blades and cutting tools, especially in Campobasso and Frosolone. However, their artisanal industry risked being shut down when Charles III of the Bourbons, King of the Two Sicilies in the first half of the 1700’s, issued a decree banning the production of combat blades, in view of the industrial reorganization of the foundry and armaments sector.

After an initial period of discouragement and uncertainty, the artisans of Frosolone had the insight to keep their workshops and foundries open, shifting from the manufacture of sword blades to the production of knives and scissors.

Today, there are still many forges in Frosolone’s historical center, but in the past there were even more, and the incessant ringing of hammers on iron resounded throughout the town. The production of knives and blades was an activity that involved the entire community, and many of Frosolone’s youth spent their free time learning this ancient art.

Today that is no longer the case, as attested to regretfully by the remaining local artisans, even though this activity is still highly profitable. To honor this ancient art, the “Museo dei Ferri Taglienti” was established, and every year in the first half of August, Frosolone organizes the traditional “National Exhibition of Knives and Scissors” which attracts artisans from all over Italy, eager to display their creations. Thanks to this important national event, the master metal forgers of Maniaco in the region of Fruili, Premana, in Lombardy, Scarperia, in Tuscany and Pattada, in Sardinia, have stipulated an official bond with Frosolone: “Gemellaggio delle Lame” (Twin cities of the blade).