Sicily is a land rich in resources, those who explore it always find a way to be marvelled by the experience, grow from their journey and find an excuse always to return. Then there are those who refuse to leave and instead chose to value this precious terrain. Just like the lead character in this story that I am going to tell you about.
Salvatore Fazzino, was born in Siracusa but, he holds me to court to declare, “Angela, I was born there because it was the closest hospital to my village, Avola”. A well known town for cultivating almonds, in particular the variety known as “Pizzuta di Avola” known across Italy as the almond confetti of choice.
Salvatore’s story is a journey in its own right. A graduate of agri-food science and technology, his experiences from the university halls, to becoming a food technologist in a big Sicilian company and then devoting himself to a career of a commercial agent in the pharmaceutical field, his path was like that of many others, possibly even you and I. Whilst he never lacked job opportunities, life became hectic along the way. Away from home for long periods he couldn’t fully enjoy family life and importantly the role of a father.
So he starts to think about how his passion could help him live from home and be closer to his family. Because in all of his journey so far, we haven’t spoken about his love for woodwork. A love that was nurtured from a young age, one that he studied in his own time and one that, through professional sacrifices saw him buy a woodworking lathe in 2011 to bring life to his creations, his pens.
It is December 16, 2014, his 40th birthday. A meal under the guise and hosting of chef Ciccio Sultano sees the birth of SYGLA pens. How? Salvatore gifted the chef one of his creations, in return, chef Ciccio was so impressed that he encouraged Salvatore to register the brand.
But why call it SYGLA?
SYGLA is the fine art of the pruning of the carob, mulberry, nettle, lemon, olive and almond trees, which after being selected, are taken to the workshop of carpenter Sebastiano Roccuzzo “testariccippu”, Salvatore’s friend and today, the right hand man in these unique creations.
These branches are turned into boards, then they are taken, plained, cut into sticks, and once the cores are inserted, they are worked on a lathe – depending on which style of pen to be made – then they are sprinkled with beeswax to allow the wood to have a greater shine, a better overall finish. Salvatore, speaks of these pens, his creations as if they were his daughters, so much so that each pen has a name. They are created one by one, and there will never be a pen like the other. They are unique pieces, with different veins and colours.
But what makes these pens truly unique is that they come from what is effectively tree waste, from branches which are often used as firewood – but thanks to Salvatore’s mastery they will have the dignity they deserve – becoming a unique product that will live over time. From 2017 Salvatore dedicates himself day and night to the creation of his pens, making them become his life’s work. To date, three collections have been created, with packages embellished with works of art by Giovanni Robustelli, Fabrizio Foti and Francesca Dimanuele.
The MILORD pen is part of the “Club” collection, his grandmother Marietta called it so because Salvatore has always been an elegant and distinguished boy; CORRADO is dedicated to his father, the one who has always helped him achieve his dreams and who has always believed in him whilst CYGAR, is reminiscent of a cigar; it is the pen to which Salvatore is very fond of, because it was the first to be really appreciated by his customers.
From the “I Tre Ponti” collection, so called to pay homage to the city of Ragusa, three pens are dedicated to three important people. The first is, Enzo Criscione who from the beginning of this adventure gave him objective advice and led him to create a unique product named SYGLA. Marcello Perracchio, a well known actor in the TV series, “Montalbano” as Dr. Pasquano is an affectionate client and friend. And finally there is Mimi Arezzo, his children Vania, Michele and Pepe have been part of Salvatore’s life and business. Pepe is an excellent musician and through his children, now theatre owners, SYGLA pens are often displayed for gala evenings. They have always helped Salvatore, believing in his work and passion, always making themselves available to help whenever they can.
Salvatore just happens to be a nice guy, with a desire to understand and meet people. He believed in his art and when he talks about his pens he does it with a passion that leaves him speechless. He is filled with enthusiasm someone who hopes to continue to bring Sicilian excellence to the very top.
For me, someone who loves to write, Salvatore has been an inspiration, so much so that I recall the words of Gesualdo Bufalino, “You write to heal yourself, to let off steam, to cleanse your heart. You write to have a conversation with an unknown reader ”. This will be my mission: “to continue to write and read, so I can have many stories to tell.”