I was born in Venezia, studied there to become a radio officer on cargo ships, and sailed for many years.
When ashore in Venezia, I had my first approaches to metalwork, bending silver plated copper wire with pliers to make rings, bracelets and necklaces, selling them on the streets in Venezia and later in Stockholm, Sweden.
Back in Venezia I attended a free class on copper engraving and printing, learnt leather-work from Gudrun Von Daake, taught myself raising and sinking and the most common bench techniques.
Then, with two friends I opened a studio/shop producing macramé, leather articles, prints and metalworks. The shop lasted less than one year.
In the late seventies I went to London, registered with Goldsmiths' Hall, shared a studio in Camden Lock with Paolo Lurati, silversmith, who taught me blacksmithing, so I made my punches and went on to learn repoussè and chasing.
In London I found very good books on metalworking, notably the ones by Herbert Maryon and Henry Wilson.
Back in Venezia, in the studio of Lauro Vianello, goldsmith, I learnt cuttlefish bone casting and jewel construction.
Shortly after I co-foundedSOV, Società Orafa Veneziana (Venetian Goldsmiths' Association) and opened a studio/shop in Calle delle Botteghe that again lasted less than one year.
Life in Venezia was too expensive so I went to live in the country, in Pennabilli where I opened studio/shop in Via Roma, and went bankrupt for the third time.
You see, if you keep your shop open eight hours a day you’re lucky to be working at the bench four hours, because you must clean, make the window, go to the bank, talk with customers and so on. I could not charge for each hour’s work enough to pay for sop’s rent, taxes, car, house’s rent, family expenses…
So I quit opening shops and worked for a while as stone-setter in the workshop of Piero Succi in Bellaria, near Rimini.
Then I started to work at home, participating in street markets and fairs.
In the late eighties I had a section on metalwork opened in an vocational school (Cirene) in Rimini and taught there goldsmithing for two years.
In the early nineties I had a commission for a golden necklace, beautiful and rather expensive, so I had the money to go to Patan, Katmandu, invited by a nepalese silversmith I had met in Italy. In his workshop I learnt small-scale sand casting and other traditional nepalese techniques.
A few years later I attended a seminar on Ancient Etruscan Art and Techniques in Murlo, near Siena, where I learnt granulation.
In the early nineties I started a collaboration with UGA summer courses in Cortona, teaching cold forging and cuttlefish bone casting and in 1999 I was invited at UGA in Athens, as visiting artist.
In 1997 I translated “Metalwork and enameling” by H. Maryon (La lavorazione dei metalli Hoepli, Milano), and added a glossary to it.
Later I learnt forge welding and Damascus steel making with Sven da Canzo, blacksmith.
A couple of years ago I learnt Kum boo from one of my classe’s students.
In recent years I made replicas of scientific instruments for museums.
Besides making jewelry, of late I've been mostly researching, writing, teaching and webmastering my website http://www.pennabilli.org