This Wednesday, July 11th, I made my long delayed solo ride to visit Dario Pegoretti at his work place in Caldonazzo in the province of Trento. It was a long day in the saddle, which I'll write about in my next entry, but the reward was finally meeting Dario in person. Dario was very gracious, taking the time to chat (all in Italian since it is what I actually prefer) about the past and present in framebuilding. Knowing that he has been ill (with lymphoma cancer) I was very happy to see that he appeared well. He is undergoing chemotherapy in Verona over the next several months and he is very positive about the outcome.
I also met Pietro, who was very concentrated on the build of a Columbus stainless steel frame, and Zoran who was painting. It was interesting to me that only three people are responsible for every hand built Pegoretti masterpiece that is created. Dario said that production is now about 400 frames per year.
This was my first ever visit to a framebuilder's workshop so I wasn't sure what to expect. Only a few meters from the tranquility of Lake Caldonazzo, it was a difficult to find. The only hint was a small Pegoretti logo on a glass pane. Upon entering my first impression was how industrial the workplace was; the exact opposite of a "all show and no go" place. Not a showroom anywhere. There were specialized machines and tools everywhere, boxes and boxes of tubes, stashes of lugs, frames, etc. I've read references to the "room" they work in; it's actually a very large space for two people (Zoran works in a different part of the building).
Dario is very excited about the future of his new stainless steel "Responsorium" model. It not only solves the problem of rust in a steel frame, the Columbus XCr tubeset is 20% stronger in comparison to the Niobium Spirit tubeset he uses in his other steel frames (note: Dario also builds in aluminum). Each Responsorium frame model will be individually hand painted so no two frames are alike. As I wandered around I saw a finished "Big Leg Emma", a sight to behold with the most massive chainstays I have ever seen. A very cool bike.
Telling of Dario's interest in framebuilding, from a historical perspective, was his personal collection. Several MASI bikes were included but more important were the MILANI bikes built in Verona by his father-in-law and under which Dario learned his craft.
As I was leaving a parcel truck pulled up. A frame was on it's way to a lucky owner in the USA (where the majority of Dario's bikes are sold). With that it was time for me to make the long trip back to Verona, where I hope to meet Dario again in the future for a glass of wine and lunch in Piazze Erbe.
If you would like to see information on Dario Pegoretti's creations I suggest you visit:
Photos: Pietro and Dario (left to right) with Dario saying, "He's the man"; two views of the framebuilding workspace, someone is going to be happy soon