Valentino Pautasso and his two hours on a Zen bike

The carpentry is a place made of extremes. To understand it you need to spend some time: the customer who passes by for a quick appointment cannot understand it. One minute the noise is deafening and literally breaks your ears, the next the silence catapults you into a fairy world where your sense of smell comes into play and you are overwhelmed by the various scents of all wood essences. You go from flat calm to storm in one click, and vice versa. A bit like life, if you look closely.

Valentino's is a normal story, of a normal boy in a normal life.
And, like all normal lives, they have exceptional situations inside. It's often difficult to realize it from the inside: you need an external eye to recognize them.
It is these normal exceptionalities that we want to talk to you about.

A childhood like many others, that of Valentino. In the morning at school, in the afternoon between homework and football practice, but as soon as he has a minute he rushes to the shop where his father assembles and restores furniture. «This is how I began to fall in love with the world of wood: I spent my time making holes, simple holes, on very normal wooden planks. I wasn't allowed anything else, but that was enough for me." Dad talking to customers and him there, on the sidelines, playing with his favorite tools.

However, there is adolescence and that moment in which, perhaps more out of rebellion than anything else, you imagine a future distant from what you live or what your parents live. Thus those who grow up in a family of farmers dream of a job in a jacket and tie in the metropolis and, vice versa, those born in downtown think that those hours spent in front of a PC are just wasted hours and decide that a life worth living is in contact with the nature. It has happened to many, including Valentino.

But you don't choose the path: life chooses you.

Valentino becomes a father soon, very soon, considering our habits. At 19, having to be responsible for a child is something that overwhelms you. Needless to think about changing your fate, you might as well accept it and roll up your sleeves. That job that "I never, ever wanted to do" you begin to understand that maybe it's not so bad. You try, you get passionate, and you never leave it.

«It takes time, a long time, to be able to say that we have become good. Only after 10 years of constant practice do you begin to understand how this profession really works». Many types of wood, many processes and then all the specific requests for custom-made furniture. Just spend an afternoon between sawdust, cutters and various tools to realize how much dedication is needed to learn.

«The bike has become indispensable in my life. A moment that I like to define zen. I spent the morning going crazy at work on small inlays? It's time to go. A customer asks me for a particular piece of furniture and I have to give me an idea? It's useless to talk about it within four walls: it's time to go. Spruce or cherry? Mahogany or Beech? The answer will come by itself: it's time to go. This job is too big and the budget is too low. But if I then raise it, will the customer accept it? It's definitely time to go."

Those two hours become your two hours, fundamental, woe to anyone who touches them.

Sometimes you go out early in the morning and go to the carpentry shop by bike, even if the temperatures are often polar: «nevertheless I never cover my ears because that slap of freezing air serves me as an alarm clock». Western Piedmont, close to the Alps, is not warm in winter, especially in the morning, you can be sure of that.
If there is one thing that all cyclists in the world have in common, it is the succession of daily rituals, from early morning until late evening. «Arriving at the carpentry shop and enjoying a coffee in the morning silence is a priceless feeling. I like to drink it still dressed as a bike, away from everyone and above all from the phone. I just pull off the gloves because I love to feel the searing heat of the cup».

Other times, on the other hand, you cycle during a lunch break: «I prefer to enjoy two hours in peace rather than splitting myself between lunch and a nap. I certainly don't suffer if I eat something on the go before reopening the shop. Let's put it this way: among all the fears we can have, there is certainly not that of dying of hunger». The sun is higher and therefore it is easier to venture off the beaten track with a gravel bike. And so on between eats and drinks immersed in the vines: we are in the Roero area and here wine is a religion. Nebbiolo, Barbera, Arneis, Dolcetto: Valentino is a local and he practically knows which grape is grown on each hill and which company it is. «In these cases I dress, as my grandmother used to say, onion : uphill it is always better to open up a little and downhill it is necessary to cover up just enough before going up again».
«Every now and then, in those few days when work leaves me a bit calm, I also find the time to stop for five minutes. A chat with someone, a coffee, or a few simple breaths on a bale of hay help me to recharge».

Finally there are the afternoon outings after work, those where there is another ritual to follow: «I turn off practically all the lights in the carpentry shop, so the atmosphere becomes more intimate, almost muffled. I choose the right clothes, in silence. I dress up as a superhero basically. It's a strange feeling, but we all need to abandon Clark Kent and become Superman once in a while."
A light is enough to be seen and you can go home even at night: in these parts it is more risky to meet a wild boar than a car, if you know how to choose the right route. «Every now and then I take the tent with me and stop to sleep on the top of some hill. Maybe I'm only 30 kilometers from home, but who said you have to go to the opposite side of the world to find adventure? My son often comes too and it's an unforgettable experience every time».

This is the story of Valentino and the Pautasso carpentry. A seemingly normal story but which hides a side that is always exceptional.

He told us about it up and down his hills, on the saddle for a couple of hours.

Its two hours.