The chariot race in ‘Ben Hur’ is one of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema. Those breathtaking images have impressed generations of audiences leaving their mark on the collective imagination. Yet, behind those scenes featuring protagonists whose chariots race at top speed, you’ll find a little known piece of Pistoia’s history. It is the story of Fabio Vannucci and a farrier located at the corner of Via Sestini. ‘You won’t believe it but those chariots were entirely built by us craftsmen from Pistoia,’ says the ninety-two-year-old artisan.
‘My brothers and I made the wheels, while a carpenter from Bonelle, and men named Trinci and Cecchini who worked in Via della Madonna made the rest.’For Vannucchi and his brothers, this cinematographic experience was truly one of a kind. It was the highlight of their career. His father, a carriage maker, had taught the Vannucchi brothers to work alongside him. They were the heirs of an ancient tradition and their work was renowned throughout the area. Pistoia’s traditions find their modern-day industrial equivalent in the mechanical factories of San Giorgio and Breda.