Ferdinando Innocenti know as "The Little Red"

Already towards the middle of the 1600's a German nobleman, Prof. Kircher, had noted linings on the altar of the church of S. Sebastian, in Rome, some strange marble with figures similar to a city in ruins.

This marble "ruiniform", as he called it in his work "Mundus Subterraneus" of 1664, came from Florence. In fact the Florentine cutters of semi-precious stones, practicing an art now flourishing greatly, had discovered for some time the beauty of this stone, that was extracted in great secrecy in some areas.

In the 1700's and in the successive century this stone knew the glory of the worldly salons and was used not only for producing mosaics, but also as pictures for adorning upper middle class villas. Then, as it always happens Paesina was forgotten and for many years it was no longer talked about. However at the beginning of the 1970's, an elderly gentleman was found dead in a grove. He usually went to that locality to collect strange stones. It was found that it was the only depository of Paesina Stone. One metre down, on the boundary of an oak wood and a cultivated field, was found a strange natural wall for the most part composed of blocks of Paesina Stone.

But who was the searcher found dead?

Ferdinando Innocenti, know as "The Little Red", was the descendent of a family of discoverers who handed down the secret of Paesina Stone. His father, Raffaello Innocenti, "The Red" (1868 - 1930), as a young man, had received the map of the geological deposit layers from Alberto Menegatti and he had kept it secret like treasure. In his old age he had taken his son Ferdinando, born in Settignano in 1901, in the secret area and had taught him "the craft".

However the "Little Red" only as an elderly man had taken up the family tradition, urged by the same mosaic artisans (Florentine workers), always maintaining the secret of the location of the deposit. It was said that he left early in the morning, pretending to go hunting, by bus or by bicycle and then on foot, taking with him a bale of jute, he returned in the evening with one or two pieces to cut and polish at his friends place, a marble worker. The largest part of the Paesina Stone he gave to the mosaic workers, but a part he sold directly on a stall at the "S. Lorenzo market" in Florence.

Unfortunately the years and the aches and pains made it ever more difficult to make his "trips to the hillsides", until in the end he never came back, they found him dead near an olive tree, leaning on his "sack" full of Paesina Stone.