Essentis Stonemasons Academy is a pioneering project to conserve this valuable craft.The highly skilled techniques involved in working with southern Italian stone have been passed down through many generations. The vaulted ceilings, for example, are made without cement. Blocks of pietra leccese stone are cut to ensure the pieces fit together perfectly. The techniques are the same as those of their predecessors who carved the details on the many historic palazzos, monuments and masserias in the local towns and villages of Salento in Puglia.
Most of the stonemasons are over 50 years old, some nearly 80. Because theirs is a dying skill, Essentis has created the first Stonemasons’ Academy in southern Italy, to pass on and thus conserve their abilities.
Each apprentice works with his own maestro and training is done on the job. The apprentices are chosen after a series of interviews and must have spent at least three years working with pietra leccese and be from the local area. They treat their ‘teachers’ with the reverence due to such highly skilled and experienced craftsmen. They understand how important it is to continue the area’s stonemasonry tradition.
Every completed project is a unique work of art in its own right. The masons who have helped bring it to life are proud of the work they have done and the fact that they have helped train another generation to carry on this ancient craft.
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