The man put down the coral branch he was holding in one hand, and the pencil he was holding in the other, he rubbed his tired eyes, as to try and cancel the fatigue of nine hours work. He lighted a cigarette.

There was still so much coral to mark.

“Guagliò” (kiddo, little guy, yougster in Neapolitan slang ndr.) – his Grandad used to say to him he was just eight years old – remember, marking and cutting are the most delicate steps of the whole work; a good marking and a good cutting mean 50 percent of the result. And remember: coral tells you how it wants to be cut. You only have to recognize its signals. Look here: what do you see?”.

A heart, Grandpa”.

“Very well, my little squeak”. “When you have grown up, you’ll be doing my job. Remember my words, learn to spot in the raw branch a drop, a button, a fuse, a heart. Don’t cut before then!”.

The Grandad used to caress the boy and hold him on his knees while was instructing him this way, for future memory. The most vivid recall of these moments was the unpleasant sensation of the raw wool fabric that made his naked little legs itch. How sweets were those moments, though! And how proud he was of being informed about the secrets of the coral manufacture. So many years had gone by, he thought.

He took another puff at his cigarette, he took a new coral branch with his left hand, the pencil with the right, the dangling cigarette between his lips. “Dad, daddy, would you let me help you?” And the little boy hung his arm and climbed up his knees. “Come, daddy’s little boy, I’ll teach you”.

This is my history, and I would like it to be my children’s history too.

I’ve decided to tell it to you, like a tale, as I would like you to understand – during this journey with me through these pages at the discovery of world of coral – that here in Torre del Greco we do this job and live it with a unique sacredness, a special love, or passion, if you like, which I think are very difficult to find in any other job. I hope that the journey we’re about to take together through planet coral can help you feel the passion for this matter, which certainly holds something fascinating, something mysterious: a charming power that totally conquers you. Here, this is perhaps, no, this is definitely my wish: to make of you true coral lovers.