Right in the center of Isola del Liri, in front of the imposing waterfall, in a late Neapolitan Baroque tenement you can find something unexpected: the world’s most interesting barber!
I do not know if Marco Sardellitti is the best barber in the world or not, but he certainly is the most original and the most interesting barber. At first glance it is not clear whether his is a barber shop or vintage décor museum.
Scrutinizing the windows you see restored and arranged antique barber chairs, then strange sofas for waiting such as one converted part of an old Fiat Cinquecento and another, a bin, then you will discover the ancient red and blue insignia of the barbers shop.
Looking past the showcase, you can see a very elegant area, with a wall decorated with beige and brown streaks where you can also see modern equipment and it is understood that this is really a barber. To have a haircut or shave in that place must be truly a unique experience (but I am a woman).
I cannot resist pursuing this enigmatic scene, and try to figure out how to find Marco. It is Sunday in winter and the shops are closed, but I can find him through Facebook and when I ask about this barber I get a lot of information and finally I can talk to him personally. I find a sunny person who is full of life:
I have collected almost all the equipments of the old Isola del Liri barbers, restored and exhibited them. In a showcase are also all the ancient tools used by barbers, a section of the shop is a museum dedicated to the care of man.
Isola del Liri is a very special town and is the only town in Europe with a waterfall of a river in the centre of the city. Above the waterfall stretches the impressive castle that since 1100 has influenced the history of this whole valley and is now a national monument.
I started to be a barber for a bet my father had over 15 years ago. He was in a hurry and went to get his hair cut but had found a long line. The owner told him that if he was able to find him a trainee he could have his hair done free for a year. And there I started the profession!
Being a barber is an almost counter-cultural choice, it seems a profession of the past but Marco has made it into a continuous experience. Not only is his shop a museum and an art workshop where you live a unique experience while having your hair done, but you can have another special experience following Marco in his work of ‘street barber’.
The world’s most interesting barber has equipped a mobile station in an elegant Apetta van with which he tours and offers free haircuts for charity. Marco works with many charities; he went to cut hair for earthquake victims of Norcia, the homeless, the community of Sant’Egidio and the pediatric oncology department of the Hospital of Infant Jesus. With the proceeds he has already funded equipment for the hospital of Sora and the next target is a device for the Infant Jesus Hospital of Rome.
There are some positive people who are able to live life by taking only the positive part and to overcome obstacles without getting caught up. It reminds me of the poem by Hikmet – ‘To life’ when in the first verse he tells us how to ‘take life seriously’ …
Marco’s positivity is contagious and, perhaps, it is also thanks to him that this part of Isola del Liri has a special charm, and the shops and the locals have a comfortable and friendly approach. I must go back at Isola del Liri during the Blues Festival in July because with the sun, the music and the sound of the waterfall this town must be magic.
And maybe I’ll ask Marco to brush my hair and massage my head. I’m not a man, but I just want to sit down in one of those chairs in front of the strange mirror housed in an old trunk.
How much I enjoyed writing this article!