Scenes and stories from a small town in the hills of Italy's Le Marche region

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Its beginnings can be traced to the turn of the 20th century, when Scandalli, the son of a shepherd/farmer, began making the daily 30-mile round trip by foot from Camerano to the town of Castelfidardo. He wanted to work in the factories of accordion innovator Paolo Soprani, the man credited with establishing the first accordion factory in Italy.

While working in Soprani’s factory, Scandalli became a sponge of information and innovation and eventually began to produce accordions from his home. With the help of his brother Enrico, Scandalli opened a small factory they called “Scandalli Brothers” and continued to try to improve upon what Soprani had accomplished in the previous 60 years.

Their innovations led to one of the biggest industrial and economic booms in Camerano. Employment in Scandalli’s factory, up a hill off the main piazza, grew from 400 to 700 workers and created many new jobs for the people of Camerano and surrounding towns.
Other industrial firms began to explode throughout the region in an attempt to imitate Scandalli’s success. They included wood, plastic and metal mold manufacturers. “Scandalli created an enterprising mentality through the people in Camerano,” says Sandro Strologo, an expert on the accordion industry who has written about Scandalli.

In 1946, in an effort to meet the increasing demands for accordions, Scandalli merged his company with Settimio Soprani’s (the brother of Paolo), and a third manufacturer from Numana to form the “Farfisa” Company, a combination of the Italian phrase “Fabbriche Riunite di Fisarmoniche” meaning “Reunited Accordion Factories.”

Farfisa became one of the largest musical instrument manufacturers in the world, producing about 180 accordions a day and employing more than 1,600 workers.
“All the surrounding towns would offer workers and the accordion industry area around Camerano little by little enlarged the province,” says Strologo. Farfisa’s success and production methods encouraged still others to start their own factories, some employing as many as 600 employees. Scandalli’s greatest musical accomplishment was the development, in 1951, of the “Super 6” accordion, a model still considered to be the best accordion in the world.

Farfisa also began producing other types of instruments such as pianos, guitars, electric organs and even electric accordions. The factory’s success drew significant interest from foreign investors, including the American-based company, Lear Siegler, which in 1968 became the major controlling financial interest.


Tools used to craft a Generalfisa Italian Piano Accordion. --photo by Averyl Dunn



A replicated work bench recreated at the local accordion museum. --photo by Averyl Dunn



A statue of Castelfidardo welcomes as you enter the Museo Internazionale della Fisarmonica. --photo by Averyl Dunn

But its administration was poor, and weak leadership allowed competitors, especially in Japan, to take advantage of electronic innovations by using a more cost-effective approach. When Lear Siegler decided it could no longer make money with Farfisa, it abandoned the plant. Other investors eventually broke off, and Farfisa became a dissembled giant.
Scandalli, by then, had left the company.

Despite the rapid downfall of Farfisa, the employees adjusted and adapted. Having learned the industrial ropes in the assembly rooms of Farfisa, many people began their own businesses and factories and created a mini-industrial revolution. Mechanical industries, electronics producers, carpenters and even instrument artisans began businesses that helped maintain some of the economic stability and growth that Farfisa had provided for years. “Most of the present owners of factories in Camerano all worked in Farfisa,” says Strologo.

Today, the plant that once made accordions is about to become a giant IKEA furniture store, which has created its own controversy. But the results of Scandalli’s visionary industrial conquests are evident in a region that remains inconspicuous to the rest of the world.

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Related Stories:

--Camerano's Accordion Factory--

--Camerano's Piano Manufacturer--

--Camerano's "Singing Nun"--

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