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All Products of these producers are stocked and distributed from US warehouses. International Growth Strategies Llc is the authorized distributor for the companies represented here.
Italy: Europe’s Knife Makers Since Roman Times
Italy has a long history in the forging of cutting instruments that reaches back to Roman times. Roman steel is known to have existed before the year 3 BC and is depicted in numerous frescoes showing the use of both iron and steel instruments and weapons. In the late middle ages, the beautiful Tuscan town of Scarperia near Florence emerged as the center of Italy’s industry of production of “cutting irons”.
Due to Scarperia’s location on the most trafficked pathway between Rome and Italy’s North, travelers on that road inevitably visited the hundreds of knife making artisans in the town to purchase cutting instruments. Those included kitchen tools, blades used in agriculture and manufacturing, scissors, swords and Italy’s famous gentleman’s regional pocket knives.
Today, a small number of artisan companies continue Scarperia’s traditon of producing world-class cutting instruments made the old-fashioned way. In particular, 2 families maintain a thriving business of knife production carrying on the tradition of their families which dates back hundreds of years. These companies are Coltelleria Saladini ( Saladini cutlery) and Coltelleria Fontani.
These famous artisan companies have succeeded in using the knowledge and experience gained over hundreds of years and integrating that knowledge with the use of advanced modern steels to produce cutlery of outstanding quality. Saladini and Fontani’s kitchen and table knife products are all forged and tempered, a rarity in today’s era of mass-produced products. Forging and tempering confers blades with a level of durability and resistance to use and corrosion that is unique.
Production in both companies is overseen by company owners and products are crafted by hand by artisans positioned at work benches in front of cutting, grinding and polishing equipment. Saladini and Fontani knives are world-renowned for their extraordinary balance and feel in the hand as well as for their beautiful handles crafted with olive and exotic woods as well as a wide range of animal horns including water buffalo, ox horn, stag horn and others. The companies also offer a wide range of resin handles in various designs including imitation animal horn and various colors. Resin handles are popular among consumers and restaurants that have a need to use dish washing equipment which is not possible with wood and horn knives.
While these handcrafted knives are appreciated throughout Europe for their technical excellence and durability, they are also stunning examples of modern Italian style which easily catch the eye of consumers. When these knives are held in the hand, consumers are sold. The smooth comfortable feel and balance of the knives combined with an extraordinary sense of quality which is visible at first sight, make these products very popular among consumers who love quality and style.
The Advantage of Artisan Producers
These producers make knives 1 at a time with each knife personally crafted by an artisan under the watchful eye of company owners who are always on the production floor. A key advantage of artisan manufacture is the ability to customize products at minimal up-charge to standard prices. Saladini and Fontani frequently produce customized products for restaurants and corporate customers including private branding forged or etched into blades and wooden packaging as well the use of materials specified by those customers.
Coltelleria Saladini ( Saladini Knife Makers ), is Italy’s premier artisan knife maker, descended from a family of knife makers that dates back to the late Middle Ages. The company is based in Scarperia, Italy, a small hill town near Florence in the magnificent Tuscan hills. Operations are led by Leonardo Saladini, a master knifemaker and descendant of the company’s founders.
Saladini uses age-old techniques combined with modern technology and modern steels to create some of the world’s finest professional kitchen knives and cheese knives available today. Saladini makes knives for important global customers such as Four Seasons hotels and others.
Saladini blades are made of high quality high carbon European stainless steel, forged and tempered at extreme hot and cold temperatures, resulting in blades that are appropriately flexible, extremely resistant to corrosion and use and that maintain their edge. Forging and the high quality that it brings is a rarity today even among popular high-priced brands. Handles are sculpted by hand of rich Italian olive wood, ox horn or buffalo horn, which are the most prized materials used in Italy’s highest-quality cutlery for centuries.
Saladini products are recognizable by the stamped hallmark engraved into the blade, a sign of authenticity which sets Saladini’s products apart.
Saladini products are distributed in the USA by International Growth Strategies Llc. Intgro.com. Corporate customers can contact us at the addresses and numbers shown above. Catalogues and price list are available to qualified retailers.
Coltelleria Fontani is a small artisan cutlery company led by Alessandro Fontani and Jacopo Gagnarli, 2 young entrepreneurs who inherited hundreds of years of experience from their families who have been active in knife making for generations. The Fontani family’s history as Master Knife Makers dates to the founders Antonio Fontani ( b.1847) the first cutler of the family and Luigi Fontani (1873-1950) the founder of the old Fontani Cutlery Workshop. The family maintained a workshop along the very heavily trafficked main street of Scarperia where travelers from Rome to Florence would stop and purchase handmade knives. The Fontani’s were among hundreds of knife makers working in Scarperia. In the second half of the 20th century, as happened with many knife making families, the young chose to follow other career paths and the Fontani knife making tradition was interrupted….until…Alessandro Fontani Muratore, a 27 year old entrepreneur, decided to revive the family tradition and after studying under the watchful eye of uncle Giglio, reopened the family workshop and retail store along the main street of Scarperia. Alessandro and partner Jacopo have won the hearts of professional chefs and discerning consumers throughout Italy and Europe.
Fontani’s kitchen and table products exude a sense of outstanding quality and workmanship, blended with a style that is a blend between elegant Italian design and old-world charm. Fontani uses high quality European steel, forged and tempered to achieve both performance and durability. Fontani offers a wide range of handle materials including olive and several other exotic woods, as well as ox horn, buffalo horn and ram’s horn, which are prized materials in Italian cutlery and frequently gifted on very special occasions. The Fontani collection also includes a wide range of “regional knives”, beautiful pocket and hunting knives typical of each region ( Calabria, Puglia, Sicilia, Sardegna, Roma, Napoli, Florence and others).
One of the most striking aspects of Fontani products are their exquisite retail packaging which does not fail to turn heads.
Products are available in a large number of unit sizes and combinations ( Knives only, knife +fork, from 2 piece sets through 12 piece sets.
Cheese Knives and Cheese Knife Sets
These producers offer exquisite cheese knives and cheese knife sets for both home and professional use. All cheese knives are forged and tempered of modern high quality European steel, honed by artisans to appropriate sharpness and polish. Each knife has hand sculpted ergonomically designed handles which have a beautiful feel in the hand and a rich high quality Italian design. These knives are intended for consumers who appreciate outstanding quality of hand crafted products. The knives are solid and draw second looks and rave reviews at dinner parties. Cheese stores and gourmet stores that feature these products have had outstanding success, with ox horn surprisingly outpacing the elegant but less expensive olive wood.
Cheese knives are also available in large versions which are very popular with restaurants seeking to add a touch of class to their after-dinner cheese and dessert presentation.