As in much of Italy, the economy of Emilia-Romagna in the 19th and early-20th centuries was based on agriculture. Yet the region also enjoyed a long cultural and artistic tradition. Every small city had a theatre and passion for music, whether folk or classical. Practically every family, rich or poor, had at least one member who played an instrument. Against this cultural backdrop the young Ansaldo Poggi grew up in the small village of Villa Fontana di Medicina, about 25km east of Bologna.
The fourth of seven children of a successful blacksmith, Ugo, and a primary school teacher, Maria Ubaldini, Ansaldo learned early to appreciate music and craftsmanship. Ugo was himself an amateur violin maker and had a long-standing friendship and probable business relationship with Giuseppe Fiorini, who was then living in Munich but made frequent trips to Bologna for family and business. Ugo is thought to have helped Fiorini in sourcing old instruments in the area.