Celeste Farotti and Celestino Farotto
Much of what we know of Celeste Farotti's life and work stems from a manuscript written by Giovanni Iviglia in 1953, containing passages apparently taken from the maker's own 'memoires'. It includes black-and-white photographs of some interesting examples of Farotti's work, mostly his antiqued copies. Iviglia likely knew the Farotto makers personally (Farotti owed his surname to a clerical error), and much of this monograph is probably accurate. But those interested in studying Farotti's fine output in the context of his milieu may find sections of Iviglia's text open to interpretation. Written some 25 years after the maker's death, it may show the strong influence of Farotti's nephew Celestino.
Farotti was born in 1864 in the small farming community of Olivola Monferrato, less than 30km south of Casale Monferrato, a large town and once home to Count Cozio di Salabue. Coincidentally, Leandro Bisiach, whose father was a carpenter, was born in Casale just two months later. Celeste spent his youth moving around the region learning odd trades, studying music and playing the accordion in his free time. By the age of 16 he settled on carpentry as his occupation and from the early 1880s was employed as a carpenter in a suburb of Casale, San Giorgio. In 1888, now highly sought-after in his trade, he moved to nearby San Germano to set up shop. By 1886 Bisiach was beginning to focus on violin making; these two men, whose paths certainly crossed later in life, may well have been acquainted before Bisiach left his home town about 1887 for Milan.