Today’s New York Times has an excellent article on Castelfidardo, the longtime center of the Italian accordion industry. From Paolo Soprani’s shop in 1863 to the peak of accordion production in 1953 — 200,000 instruments built by 10,000 full-time workers — Castelfidardo has been inextricably linked to the accordion. There are still about 27 companies building accordions and parts there and, rather than compete with cheap models from Eastern Europe or Asia, they’re focused on building fewer, but higher-quality instruments.
“‘Our accordions are like bespoke apparel,’ said Francesca Pigini, a top manager for the company her grandfather started in 1946. ‘For us, it’s a pleasure and an enrichment to work and collaborate with artists and people who make music a big part of their lives.’”
Pigini is the largest accordion maker in Castelfidardo, making professional-caliber accordions ranging in price from $3,000 to $43,000. While China has long since passed Italy as the largest producer of accordions, the folks in Castelfidardo are confident that the best players will eventually find their way to Castelfidardo’s exceptional, hand-crafted instruments.
“We’re not pessimistic about the future because some young Chinese players will become professionals, and once they’re looking for more important instruments where will they come? To Castelfidardo.”
If you’re planning a trip to Italy and want to visit Castelfidardo, be sure to check out the International Accordion Museum, which traces the accordion’s evolution from the 19th century to present day. There’s also (of course) a big accordion festival there every Fall.
Tom Torriglia, accordionist for retro Italiano band Bella Ciao, just returned from a trip to Castelfidardo, Italy, the famous center of the Italian accordion industry. He passed along these tips for anyone making a pilgrimage to the area:
“I just returned from Mecca(castel)fidardo and offer up the following information for fellow travelers.
Castelfidardo is shut tight as bellows on both Saturday and Sunday.
I stayed at the 3-star La Fonte hotel in Osimo. It was 48€ per night and included continental breakfast. The room was large, very clean and had twin beds. There is a lounge/bar area where you can hang out. They also offer free parking.
In Castelfidardo, I met Dan from Denver who was staying at the only pensione in Castelfidardo and he said he was paying 40€ per night with no breakfast.
Osimo is a lot bigger than Castelfidardo and there is a real nightlife. I mostly hung out at the Silicon bar, a very popular place. Osimo is about 15 minutes from Castelfidardo by car.
In Osimo, there is a telephone place where you can call the US for 5 centesimi per minute — so 1€ gets you 20 minutes. It’s open late.
There’s an internet point in Castelfidardo called Media Place. Kind of down the hill a bit from the center of town. I think it’s on Aligheri. 1€ got me 20 minutes online.
I stopped at the accessories’ place, I think it’s called Carini, located at the bottom of the long flight of steps. There is no sign. It’s next to a little car wash. I got some nice straps with a backstrap included for 20€. Of course, there’s always Italcinte for straps.
The banks didn’t take travelers’ checks, but you could convert cash. There’s plenty of ATMs (bancomats) from which to get cash anytime.
Anna and I are planning to visit Castelfidardo next spring, so these tips are a big help. Thanks Tom!