Les Amis du Bois (the friends of the woods) is a small company producing wooden objects and carvings typical of local traditions. The workshop, housed in a classical building of stone and wood, can be found at only 16 km from Aosta in the hamlet of "Villes Dessus" in the village of Introd. The principal production concerns "grolle" and "coppe dell'amicizia" (friendship cup) two objects typically produced by generations. As well as these, wooden bowls, mortar and pestles, chopping boards, plates and nomerous other sculptures and objects are created by our craftsmen.
The Grolla is the most famous object produced by local craftsmen. Symbol of friendship and fraternity it is used for, and during convivial drinks, a traditional born in the past, though still practiced today on certain occasions. The word Grolla is thought to derive from the ancient French word "graal" meaning chalice. In the past it was reserved for special occasions and conserved like a precious relic to be handed down from father to son. Moreover, as a symbol of the family, the more it was lavishy decorated, the richer was owner.
For a day-to-day use, low bowls were used which, over time, became the "Coppa dell'Amicizia". Shorter and fatter than it's cousin the grolla, it can have any number of drinking spouts and a lid, today it is used for drinking the coffee alla Valdostana. The Aosta Valley coffee is a coffee with "grappa" (a local liquor) and lemon syrup. After putting the coffee into the Coppa dell'Amicizia, the last is sharing with friends.
In Introd, next to the workshop there is a small shop where it is possible to browse and purchase the products of "Les Amis du Bois". As well as the small-scale sale of products at the shop, the company also supplies various local shops, the IVAT (Istituto Valdostano Artigianato Tipico) an institution promoting the work of local craftsmen, and is often commissioned for the supply of throphies at sporting events.
The origin of the Vald'Aostan craftsman lies in the necessity, vital for the alpine population, of producing implements
for use at work and at home. Over time various personal styles of working with wood have developed, from the
carpenter creating furniture, the wood turner and the sculptor. These different expressions of artistry, often being passed
down thought generations, can be witnessed at the annual Fair of St Orso, an event with a thousand year history where every
30 and 31 of January all the craftsmen meet to display, compare and sell their works.
There are also other sides of the traditional craftwork of the Aosta Valley. Side by side with woodwork, Ironmongery, pottery, stonemasonry and lacework are all practiced within the region, though woodwork remains the most popular. From the historical need to make furniture and everyday objects needed for life in the mountains a new form of sculpture has developed where necessity has been replaced with artistic expression.