Giuseppe Ornati and Ferdinando Garimberti
Born into a modest family in the village of Albairate near Milan, Ornati trained first as a carpenter but turned quickly to making stringed instruments. By early 1901 he had moved to Milan itself, where from about the age of 13 he learned the rudiments of violin making from Luigi Montanari. In 1903 Leandro Bisiach accepted Ornati into his workshop, initially to work alongside Gaetano Sgarabotto. By the early 1910s Ornati began producing a few instruments independently, although his personal and working relationship with the Bisiachs remained strong throughout his life. Leandro even entrusted to Ornati the training of his own sons who, however, did not themselves become great makers, rather following in their father's footsteps as employers. Ornati also excelled in restoration; the Bisiachs continued to employ his skills in this capacity.
Garimberti's early life was quite turbulent. He was born near Parma, but in 1902 his blacksmith father moved the family to Milan, where he opened a trattoria. The teenage Ferdinando met the Antoniazzi brothers around 1910 and through them, in particular from Romeo, learned the rudiments of violin making. Around the same time he also met Leandro Bisiach, who introduced him to Giuseppe Ornati. In 1915 he was drafted into the army and posted to Turin. His skill as a carpenter for the army allowed him to avoid direct combat. His brother Eugenio was not so lucky and was killed at the very end of the war; their mother, Celeste, died of grief shortly thereafter. Ferdinando remained in Turin, where in 1919 he married Maria Zanello and began working for Fiat as a milling machine operator, but soon after opened a wine shop.