Salsapariglia collection, the story of my father started from agriculture

Salsapariglia collection, the story of my father started from agriculture

January 10, 2019Marzia Salsapariglia | Reggio Emilia (Italy)



My father

If I think of my father, I think of work, of sacrifice, of hard times.
If I think of my father I think about his curiosity, his desire of understanding and discovering what he does not know, even nowadays. If I think of my father, I think about his joy of life and his persistence, even during the hardest times of life.


From agriculture to mechanics

His story starts from long time ago, from working the land as a sharecropper on some few acres, then as a mechanized-worker on behalf of others. Still nowadays he’s telling me how a proper ploughing had to be done, as there is an almost physical-connection between him and the land. While his eyes are looking far away and it seems they are recalling those moments, he describes the happiness of those times, when on Saturdays, after a week of hard work, he was going by bike with his friends to the nearest small city of Correggio, to see a movie, or even better to a house party of some girl, to dance with the background music of some rare gramophone. Actually his main interest was mechanics; trying to understand how an engine works, and to build agricultural machines that could relief from the effort he was experiencing. He told me that tractors were already existing, but were “heavy” ones, suitable for large pieces of land.

For this reason, at the end of the 40’s, he started his activity focused on mechanics; at first he repaired tractors together with a friend, then they began to build their own. His first tractors were assembled from war time abandoned parts, known as “carioca”, then in the 50’s they started to build new tractors, completely designed by them, apart from the engine, that was manufactured by the firm “Slanzi”. The new company was named “LESA”. He was happy he reached his target, being able to apply his own innovation, born from his experience, and that the products were appreciated by the customers. At the beginning of the 60’s something changed in the assembly and sales of tractors. That forced my father to look for something different, to start from scratch one more. He focused himself on a different product, easy to handle and innovative, and started to trade motor-chainsaws. With his friend and relative Ariello Bartoli they started the company SABART in 1965, being among the first to produce and sell motor-chainsaws, unfortunately still too heavy and actually not so easy to handle.

Later new partners joined with new ideas, the company OLEO MAC, when they began to produce their own first machines. In 1992 the company EMAK was founded and later the holding YAMA was established to join all the companies of the group that was expanding. My father’s story comes from far, a life between difficult times
and happy moments, full of great satisfactions. Today, when I look at him, a 92 years old wise man, on his face I see the satisfaction of having fulfilled the dream of that 15 years old boy.


Why this museum

I created the museum in order to show to young people and older ones, where we come from. My passion for mechanics took me, during my life, to “pick up” and restore several motorbikes, each of them with a specific feature, born from man’s invention. I consider mechanics as something alive. Being able to assemble pieces of metal in order to create a working and dynamic object always fascinated me. So, apart from collecting bikes, I started to collect also agricultural engines and the tractors I built back in the 50’s. A friend of mine tells me smiling that I am the “man that collects himself” and I cannot disagree. Mechanics is everywhere; so thinking about my youth, made of hard work, but also of hanging out with friends by bike at night, or sometimes dancing at some girl’s house, I started to collect bikes, gramophones and radios. I always liked dancing, it was one of the few hobbies that I could afford and from that the curiosity to know how their magic worked, especially of the first Edison models. The first company I started was placed in Adua street, in the city of Reggio Emilia, not far from the Officine Meccaniche Italiane (OMI), also known as “Officine Reggiane”. To me they were a model to follow and to admire, something to be proud of for the people living in Reggio Emilia. Many workers and engineers were working there, using special tools to study different materials and their properties, tools impossible to have at that time, they were able to design and build several machines like aircraft, trains, cranes for docks and so on. Thanks to some dear friends, some of those objects are displayed in the museum and for me they are almost sacred and I am very proud to able to recall through them the memory of that important activity of our territory.
When I’m inside my collection and I see what has been done and built in time, I feel a sense of accomplishment, at peace.
Nello Salsapariglia