You can walk the circumference of the miniature town of Salle in about ten minutes. You can jog diagonally across it in about five. This tiny village is located in a slight valley between Mt. Maiella to the east and Mt. Morrone to the south, in the Italian province of Pescara. Two hundred people still reside within the jagged blocks of this mountainous landscape without a restaurant. The only store in the area, a small bar where you’re welcome to pull up a folding chair in the perfect light and sip a cup of espresso with the proud locals who refuse to leave. They will describe to you, in their broken English, the ideal climate, relating a tale of hiking around the village in a snowstorm wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt. If you agree to stay for dinner, they’ll slow-roast the traditional pig in a large brick oven all day in your honor and, if you can manage not to observe the animal lying whole on its side, you’ll find the taste incomparable.
In the middle of the town is the church. It is in this church that countless generations have sought refuge and marked the milestones of their lives with their families. It is in this church that the oldest documents of the town still reside. One document marks the birth of a child; the baptismal form filled out by a Donato D’Addario in 1680, his occupation stated simply “cordaro” – the Italian word for “string maker.” The trade of the town seemed to be one of two things–you were either a farmer of the rich countryside or you made strings. The D’Addario family was equal parts farmers and string makers. Both professions involved the use of the land and the animals of the region. The town boasted delicious fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and wine, not to mention fresh cheeses, proscuitto, sausages, bacon, lard, and salt pork. Before the introduction of synthetic substitutes, strings were made for lutes, guitars, harps, violins and other assorted musical instruments from sheep and hog gut. Creating fine strings from this material was a long, tedious process. It involved many different phases and the entire process took a week, Monday to Saturday, and began again every Monday morning with the dawn.