Old style paper

With special thanks to Sicilian cassata. This famous and delicious dessert, typical of the island, played an important role in the survival of the Amatruda paper mill. In the first half of the 20th century, when systematic industrialisation and the development of more modern commercial arteries were heavily penalising the increasingly isolated Amalfi, Ferdinando Amatruda and his son Luigino (the same “Don Luigi” who, in his later years, was highly revered among the most sophisticated publishers) succeeded in keeping the family activity alive thanks to a particular white paper known as “briglia”, which was widely used by pastry shops in Southern Italy, as well as by law firms. Even today, at the zenith of email and ebooks, it is not easy to keep afloat; but luckily, luxury books and wedding announcements have replaced Sicilian desserts and legal folders.
Don Luigi’s daughter, Antonietta, carries on the family trade with philological rigour, in keeping with her father’s principles and with the history of the Amatruda family, who have been associated with paper production since the 15th century. Antonietta is ably assisted by her sister Teresa, her brother-in-law Lucio and her nephew Giuseppe Amendola, as well as by a handful of employees who have been working with the company for decades. Indeed, the production of handmade paper at the ancient bridge mill on the River Canneto has substantially remained unchanged since the Middle Ages, when paper was made from rags (“Bambagina”, as it was called around here). Now, as then, the water that descends from the heights of the Amalfi hinterland through the Valle dei Mulini is used to produce a cotton or cellulose pulp almost without impurities. Also bearing witness to the many centuries of the mill’s activity are the ancient stone tubs, called vats, into which the water was conveyed by opening a stopper that was linked to a chain; the water flowing into the vat moved a wheel that put into motion a transmission shaft attached to a spiked wooden mallet that pounded and reduced the rags to pulp.