From Venice to Bassano del Grappa, the birthplace of Manfrotto.

Viaggio! Italy

Bassano del Grappa, the birthplace of Manfrotto, is situated between Milano, the heart of Italy’s economy and the source of new fashions, and traditional Venice, the “city of water” known for its medieval splendor. Thusly situated, this little city has been influenced by both areas while maintaining its distinct character. Let’s go on a viaggio (trip) with Naoki Ishikawa, photographer.

As dusk was turning into night, we headed to Bassano del Grappa to meet up with the founder of Manfrotto, Lino Manfrotto.

Bassano is one and a half hours by car from Venice. It takes about 10 minutes to walk through the small old town, which has a population of about 40,000 people and the guidebook spares only a few pages for it–if it wasn’t for my appointment, it is not likely I would have an opportunity to visit the city.

On the morning of the meeting, Lino Manfrotto’s son came to pick us up at exactly the promised time at the Abramo Hotel. Because it is such a small town, any destination is reached within minutes. After getting in his car, it took about 10 minutes to get to Lino’s doorstep. The gate opened onto what looked like a completely different world. The expansive garden, is lush with trees with its beckoning shade.

What kind of a person lives in such a place? What kind of a person is Lino anyway? I was a little nervous, but when I actually met him, he was a good-natured, gentlemanly type. It reminded me of when I met outdoor wear maker Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. Yvon, like Lino, appeared a benevolent mountain wizard who had retired from bustle of running his company to live quietly free from worldly cares.

Yvonne was originally a successful climber who turned his hobby of hand-making his own equipment into a successful mountaineering equipment company. Similarly, Lino was originally a fanatic cameraman who would make the tools he required by hand and in this way ended up the founder of a tripod-producing company.

Therefore, the love of cameras is a passion that is out of the ordinary. From the first time we met, his eyes were drawn to my medium -sized Mamiya II and, saying “I also have one of those,” he pulled one out of his camera closet. He kind of cheekily added: “I haven’t used it in close to 15 years though..” He also had a Hasselblad and Laica amongst his large collection of older high-performance models on a shelf.

When I tried to take photos of him in the garden, I still remember his reaction to me still using film: “There’s no need to take so many photos of me–it’s a waste of precious film,” he said with a comic pose.

>  Viaggio! Naoki Ishikawa’s travels in Italy – Part 1

Naoki Ishikawa

Naoki Ishikawa

Born in Tokyo in 1977.

Ishikawa completed his doctoral course in the Department of Fine Arts of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

He received the 30th Domon Ken Award sponsored by “CORONA” (Seidosha). Among his main works are “I’m Alive, the Adventure “ (East Press), “The Last Adventurer”, which won the Kaiko Takeshi non-fiction prize (Shueisha), and “Go See the World” (Little More Co.), which is a compilation of the serial “Hobonichi”.

The Prince Takamado Gallery in the Canadian Embassy in the Aoyama district of Tokyo is holding an exhibition entitled “POLAR” (from July 30). The IMA CONCEPT STORE in Roppongi, Tokyo is tentatively holding the “MAKALU” exhibition from August 20 to October 5.

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