THE BETTONI AND SANTELLA FORGES OF VIA ARTIGIANI (ARTIGIANI’S STREET)
This forge belonged originally to Francesco Bettoni and later was handed down to his son Achille, in this way run by the Brothers, Andrea and Roberto Bettoni until 2004.
They have kept on working with the water hammer for the production of spades, shovels and hoes, keeping up the origin of the forge that has always been a “scartadura” one. It is well documented on the Napoleonic Map of 1821, which has been preserved in the Public Records Office of Brescia, where the Bettoni forge is register with the Number 812; here is clearly visible the vaso Ré (the Ré duct) with its branches and there are also evident other forges that are still identifiable in the territory.
The forge overlooks the street with a few small openings, while the side that looks on the Vaso Ré (the Ré duct) overlooks an inner courtyard. Its origin could date back at the eighteenth century, considering the presence of the date 1764 followed by the LL initials, a cross and FF (Fecit Fieri) initials on its “hóca” at the left of the hammer.
The portal of entry as well, which is architraved and is supported by hanger brackets, for the style of how it has been built, could be brought back to the eighteenth century. As a whole the forge is preserved in its components as well as the Vaso Ré (the Ré Duct), that in this area is cemented. Next to the Bettoni forge once there were also the Comensoli one, which during the last years produced cups and ladles for foundries, but it ceased its activity at the end of the eighties.
On the road a niche, covered by a saddle roof, houses an effigie with a votive fresco depicting the Holy Family, which was surrounded by a beautiful wooden frame decorated with vine-shoots and then stolen in 2002. The inscription below the painting says: “Protect our families”; the painting is signed “Bettoni Bortolo” and is dated 1982, an artist from Bienno who worked for several years at the decoration of numerouses effigies diffused throughout the village.
On the right wall of the effigie is inserted a rounded white marble stoup, on this side is also put in a wrought iron cross in memory of a disaster. Because of its size the effigie marks out this stretch of Via Artigiani (Artigiani’s Street), characterizing itself as the sacral element of a considerable importance also in relation with the others that are diffused along the course of the Vaso Ré (the Ré Duct). In fact, there are small aedicules, often made in the main façade of the forges, near the entrance with the specific purpose of invoking a blessing for the activities that were carried out there.
The painting of votive frescoes on the main façades of the houses, in fact, was a tradition; on some buildings in Bienno there are still preserved fifteenth-century frescoes. Hence was risen the need to depict sacred images also on the buildings where the working activities were carried out.