Contemporary Italian Violin Makers?

July 12, 2010 at 11:41 PM ·

 I will be going to Italy in a few weeks for a vacation.  Most of the vacation will be spent in Rome, Florence and Venice.

If I get the chance, I'd love to try and visit an Italian violin shop/maker.  Maybe test a few instruments?  Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go?  Even if you haven't visited the place personally, perhaps you have an instrument that you like from a certain maker that I could look up?

Replies (23)

July 13, 2010 at 03:24 AM ·

 I play a violin by Alessandro Ciciliati, who resides in Ferrara. My violin is only six years old and is a very bright instrument, but I have high hopes for its maturity! His website is

Have fun! I wish I could go on a trip like that!

July 13, 2010 at 05:17 AM ·

 Just a few ideas :- 

In Rome, Rodolfo Marchini is the successor to the famous Giuseppe Lucci. In Florence, there's the Vettori family, methods going back to Carlo Bisiach. I don't know about Venice. Try to get to Cremona if you can because there's a HUGE number of makers in a tiny township. The Consorzio Liutai "A. Stradivari" has a shop with fiddles hanging up that you are free to try, but quite a few fine makers (including Davide Sora for example) aren't members of that, therefore that website does not have a complete list of all Cremona makers.

In Cremona, Vittorio Villa (and his brother Marcello) have received accolades on but I have not met them. I have a violin by Tonarelli and 2 by Guido Trotta, Largo Boccaccino 46, 26100 Cremona. Try to see the Bissolotti workshop in Cremona - Francesco Bissolotti is a fine woodcarver (as well as being a leading maker) and the ceiling of the shop is a work of art in progress.

I think Alessandro Ciciliati is "School of Soffritti". One of my biggest mistakes in my early life was NOT buying an Ettore Soffritti violin when I had the chance.

July 13, 2010 at 03:07 PM ·

I personally have a violin by Vittorio Villa and have ordered a 2nd one. If you contact him, tell him I sent you!

July 13, 2010 at 04:12 PM ·

Kindly pass on MY kind regards to Guido Trotta and Daniele Tonarelli too !! No regrets at buying from either.

I gather the Villa Brothers specialize in ornate inlaid instruments - but that such decoration is not compulsory. Are they both Conservatory-trained players too ? If so, that probably helps.

July 13, 2010 at 07:16 PM ·

Thanks guys.  I've been looking up all of the makers everyone has listed.  This may prove to be dangerous.... all the internet "window shopping" is making me lust after instruments I can't afford....

Keep the suggestions coming!

July 13, 2010 at 09:28 PM ·

 You can also check Riccardo Bergonzi in Cremona.

July 13, 2010 at 11:40 PM ·

I wouldn't say that the Villa bros. specialize in ornamented instruments, but they do make them. They both play. Vittorio and maybe Marcello too, has played professionally. What they are specializing in these days are violins (as opposed to also making violas and cellos).

If anyone is serious, I can make a better connection with a better price to Vittorio than you'd get with a cold call. Let me know.

July 14, 2010 at 04:33 AM ·

I am not much of a linguist. However communication in English with Riccardo Bergonzi is easy. He seems to be straightforwardly frank in discussing technical matters. Unfortunately one cannot buy from them all !

The career path for these guys after initial training at one of the schools (Cremona, Parma etc.) involves then working for some years in the atelier of a senior maker. When eventually they emerge to set up on their own they cannot command top prices. If you are looking for a bargain, then seek out a maker at this point in his/her career. You will soon discover that when a maker gets a "name" the price goes up, as does the delivery time. 

July 25, 2010 at 11:28 AM ·

 P.S. I hope you will share with your experiences with Italian fiddle-makers. 

July 26, 2010 at 11:45 AM ·

Just chiming in here with a word of advice... make sure you set up appointments in advance with the makers you'd like to visit, since in the month of August just about everyone in Italy goes on vacation!

Cheers, Dimitri

July 26, 2010 at 07:57 PM ·

After having played an "anonymous" instrument, most probably an unsigned Strad copy  for 25 years, I am now a lucky owner of an Italian contemporary, build 1984 by Delfi Merlo, who is still active in Milan. Unfortunately, his instruments are hard to find on the market.

August 19, 2010 at 08:59 AM ·

Nice to meet so many specialists on contemporary Italian violin makers :) Does anyone know something about the mysterious Ezio Tanzi from Ascoli Picena? I found this nice violin made by him, and as i´m thinking about buying it i´d be glad to learn more about him. Thank you for any information!

August 20, 2010 at 04:57 AM ·

Ezio Tanzi had not appeared on my radar until today, but a quick google search shows that the name is real, in other words there really is a maker of that name. It's not one of those "made up" names put into shop fiddles to trap the umwary. I should imagine the violin you found is in the Celani tradition, but I never saw a Celani instrument either !

September 4, 2010 at 07:58 PM ·

there are other good website, e.g. the parmanese

But the first link is particularly good, as it covers all of Italy.



September 21, 2010 at 06:22 AM ·

Many violinist.commies will be eager to read of your meetings, if any, with the Italian fiddle makers. What happened ? Did you get there ??

September 23, 2010 at 12:31 AM ·

 Iv'e been told that a good  way to get a high quality modern violin is from a respected luthier who is approaching the end of his career, because when he is no longer making them the market price is sure to rocket. 

November 21, 2011 at 08:45 AM · Danielle, did you find any violins that you liked ??

November 27, 2011 at 09:20 AM · David, Raphael and others - would you consider Riccardo Bergonzi a top Italian violin maker - with very good sounding instruments?

November 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM · Riccardo Bergonzi seems to have a very good reputation, with many instruments appreciated world-wide. There have been many complimentary mentions on The only violin I ever tried (2003) was a good instrument but I preferred and bought a Tonarelli. I have met him personally and have exchanged a few emails with him. If like me your Italian's not up to much he speaks English. I was tempted again recently but found his quoted price to me rather high (€15,000, less to a dealer) and bought instead from another maker who made me a very good violin for rather less - I got a good price for being a previous customer.

November 27, 2011 at 01:02 PM · Thanks David

I have just tried one about 16 years old and like it although it takes a bit of getting used to, mainly because of the strings on it I think.(They may be brand new).

Another couple of hours on it and I should be feeling OK I hope.

November 27, 2011 at 05:26 PM · If you are happy with the violin and the price and it's the real thing (not a Chinese imitation) then lucky you !

Should there be neither maker's nor Consorzio Antonio Stradivari certificate you can always email Bergonzi a photo and ask if it's genuine. That's something you can't do with a Strad !!

November 27, 2011 at 06:44 PM · I maybe getting it, and if so it's from a reliable dealer and it has all the paperwork. I have a copy of the original documents signed by the maker and it has the label which seems genuine. As you say, I could check it with the maker.

November 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM · David

I'm falling for this Bergonzi fiddle more every day. It's the first one (other than a Guadanini) that grabs me with its big masculine sound.

It's also quirky - for instance certain notes, but one in particular, in my lounge sound different, but up in our music room which has a drier accoustic it sounds the same all over, and very even. I'm dying to try it in a bigger accoustic like a church or a hall.

I'm also hoping to get a friend of mine to try it who knows a thing or two and has owned some top instruments.

This fiddle has got the PI (Peter Infeld) strings which I'm sure are brand new so both it and the fiddle are being played in and it's also having to get used to my quirks as well.

It also sounds good with my cheap £300 carbon fibre bow which on some fiddles (eg a French one) sounded awful. Why is it that virtually every French fiddle I've tried sounds so nasal when you push the sound near the bridge?

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