Perfectly Imperfect

Giovanni Raspini bought and restored an ancient stately building - the former home of Andrea Sansovino – in Monte San Savino, in the heart of the Val di Chiana, where he decided to place the most beautiful things he created throughout his 50-year career.

Giovanni Raspini has finally “found a home” in the heart of the Val di Chiana in Arezzo – and precisely in the centre of Monte San Savino, a stone’s throw from the Palazzo Comunale and the famous Cassero. As he explains, it is where he could settle down and exhibit the most beautiful things done in fifty years of his career for the benefit of friends, customers, journalists and visitors. One can imagine how long and obsessive it was to search for a place that could meet the expectations of this eclectic and curious artist – an architect who worked as a silversmith first and then a creator of beautiful silver jewellery, with a passion for antiques, collecting, art and sculpture. “I wanted to lay the foundations of a place that was simultaneously an atelier and a creative laboratory, an exhibition venue, a Renaissance workshop to meet, collaborate and forge new talents”. Giovanni Raspini fell in love with the building at first sight. He was ecstatic when he learned it was home to Andrea Sansovino, a great sculptor and architect of the early Renaissance, active and admired in Italy, Spain and Portugal. “So important – says Giovanni Raspini – that Vasari added his biography to his The Lives”. Largely conservative and respectful of the place and its history, the restoration works lasted over two years. Today the thirty environments – including rooms, frescoed halls and secret rooms, an internal courtyard, medieval cellars and two terraces – tell visitors an all-Italian story about history, art, beauty, taste and entrepreneurship. Outside, a pair of silver mice climbing along the grate of a window on the simple sixteenth-century façade seems to give visitors a hint of the unusual and beautiful things that await them inside. The interiors are also enlivened everywhere by silver mice peeking out of furniture, furnishings, books, and sculptures, looking curiously at the jewellery, objects and artefacts on display.

Crossing the door, you enter a place of art and creativity in a class by itself, like the treasures it enshrines. Each room is a “room of wonders”, a world unto itself, a keeper of jewellery and artefacts, all unique pieces resulting from ultimate creative freedom, specific projects and multiple techniques and skills. We can find the ornaments created by Giovanni Raspini over the years for his exhibitions and very far from any commercial consideration – the Jewels from a Wunderkammer necklaces, the Vanitas Mundi skulls, the Nautilus jewellery inspired by the depths of the sea and Capitan Nemo’s adventure. But there are many surprising rooms inside the Silver Mice Palace: the King Kong suite, with its gorilla skulls and jewellery made from unexpected materials, the Room of Velvets, the Room of Drawings and the Cabinet de Curiosités, created in collaboration with interior designer Andrei Dmitriev, and the Silver Mice Room. But what makes this atelier-laboratory even more unique and alive are the beautiful sculptures by Giovanni Raspini dotting all the rooms and the incredible chandeliers and monumental sculptures created in collaboration with the ninety-year-old local artisan Giovanni Fulgenzi.

“My studio in the building – Giovanni Raspini concludes – is a panoramic room, right up at the top, with a hulled ceiling embellished with floral friezes and pearl festoons. Going from this overworld down into the cellars, I look at the medieval vaults, capitals and Renaissance sandstone friezes of the Sculpture Workshop.

Here, I feel the living presence and echo of Sansovino”.

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