The Italian Almanac

violin strings

Italian News - May 20

Italy's musical-string makers are fighting a mad-cow ban on the use of their raw material, animal guts. "This ban makes no sense. You can't eat a violin string," said Mimo Peruffo of the Aquila company, the leading Italian producer of strings. Aquila uses the intestines of sheep and cows, both outlawed under a European Union ban on offal and other animal parts introduced to halt the spread of mad cow disease.

The company, which is based at Caldogno near Venice, has been forced to turn to a gut supplier in Argentina, the only country the EU rates as risk-free. "It's simply not enough to ensure future production," Peruffo said. "We're faced with the risk of shutting down because of a lack of raw material".

Peruffo pointed out that, at the end of the production process, his strings are painted or clad with silver-coated copper wire. "This eliminates all risk for humans. But the ban stands. The extension of the measure to cover strings is absurd. Our product is simply unfit for human consumption - for the right reasons".

Peruffo now plans to appeal to a court for an exemption as part of an "historically significant" craft. Italy has long stood at the head of the world's string makers, the small-business association Confartigianato pointed out. "Traditional Italian mastery cannot be jeopardised by a silly ban on eating violin strings," the association said.