I met the Brothers’ Pegoretti years ago. It was Milano in the early 90’s. I vaguely recall a classical guitarist noodling away in their display booth at the expo. I was really drawn to their stand, made of flat 10/10 panels of acciaio, the stuff that the Pegoretti’s know best. Bikes, music, animated Italians discussing The Giro..what more could you want? I had seen some of Dario’s work in magazines. We exchanged glances and smiles, but nothing more as we were both language-limited.
Years later, I would jump into the bike world with fragile feet, and Dario and I continually connected. He was very direct. It took me years to understand his nuanced method of conversation, hugging the confines between insult and information. His thick Veronese accent added to the weight of what he said, and he never deviated to pure Florentine Italian so that I could catch up. I was always frustrated at how easy he made it look.
To watch him work was magic. The first time he gave me a hood it forever changed the way I weld. My first years as a telaista were modeled after him. I believed that I could somehow garner his experience and philosophy by mimicking his actions, by following his cues. Dario made it clear: I had to first make my own mistakes, and from then I will have my own experience. Any other way is BS.
I was always fighting my inner voices when I was with Dario. It’s like meeting the guitarist of your favorite band or an actor that you’ve adored since your childhood, and wanting to document that you actually were backstage at their performance. At some point, you realize that the economy of time doesn’t work to your schedule and at some point early on, I learned to appreciate the gift that Dario was giving me. Giving us. Be true to yourself and work with conviction.
Those who have worked with Dario know that he doesn’t teach you anything. If you’re willing to see it and you’re eager, he will give you a path to finding it on your own. Dario’s long-time friend and partner, Pietro, said it best. Dario lets you rubare l’esperienza. He lets you steal it.
Over a bistecca fiorentina and a few glasses of sangiovese one evening in my town of Castiglion Fiorentino, we compared notes. When I lamented of my relentless pursuit to reply to the 56 unread emails in my inbox, he belted out a stout laugh that concluded somewhat like a Flavor-Flav outro, displaying his phone with over 2000 unread messages…not even a moment of doubt in his decision. “Pazienza”, he said.
His clarity and creativity were something to behold. My first trip to Caldonazzo to meet with some journalists who were doing a shared story on our work gave me some insight into his mindset. He obviously carried the torch for the traditional methods his Maestro, Gino Milani, handed to him over the years. But what was so captivating was that he could render the carbon layup in his new Falz fork in Solidworks with the same ease with which he’d braze a lug just a few minutes prior. A day later, he was in his workshop drawing a moment diagram on a giant chalkboard of the loads of a road bike while waiting for the moka. “What kind of engineering did they teach you in Texas architecture school?”, he would jibe. Tradition didn’t limit Dario; he applied its principles to modern techniques to improve his bikes. He embraced it. The industry followed him. That’s why Pegoretti’s didn’t die with the introduction of the carbon era. They thrived.
With the same contrasting style, he could manhandle a white-hot tube of high-strength steel, and then hold both of my timid little girls by the hand as we crossed the street to run errands in Caldonazzo. They seemed more at ease with him than with their own dad. All that stuff he said about the hands being the perfect tool was true. It was on display. He could make you feel completely at ease with a sguardo or he could move you to take action in your life. How many times he told me, “metteti a posto, Darren! Cazzo”! (get your shit together..), as I worked through a serious battle with depression many years ago. He would call to check in on me, like family. My favorite line was, “Darren, you spend too much time trying to solve problems. Instead, you should eliminate your problems.” His words carried so much weight, because he had already been there, handled it, and come out the other side. I could relate to him. He was more American than I.
One of my fondest memories of Dario was a summer trip nine or ten years ago. He and his girlfriend came through town and I set them up in an agriturismo where I frequently send clients and friends. I had left a huge basket of Tuscan “goodies” to keep them busy until the family and I got through with work and could catch up to them for dinner. As I made my way to his apartment, I saw the door was strangely left wide open. I knocked. I didn’t see Dario, but a resonate “sono qua”’ came from the bedroom, inviting me to enter. As I slowly opened the door, there was Dario, laid out (by himself) spread-eagle in the center of the bed like an oversize Vitruvian Man, wearing only a pair of boxers. The gift basket now seemed like such a small gift as it was perched perfectly centered on his well-padded stomach. He had eaten a complete bag (family size) of the cantucci cookies and had crumbs well distributed across his belly as well as the bed. Cazzo Darren!! Siamo in paradiso qua’ (explicative..we’re in heaven here!). Happy to be on vacation, for sure. That trip started a recon mission to look for a Pegoretti work shop in Tuscany. Even today, that may have been one of the most satisfying moments of pleasure that I’ve ever seen a person derive from food.
Everyone that had an interaction with Dario was left with something: A story. An emotion. A laugh. He never left you empty-handed. Thanks, Dario, for being true to yourself. Thanks for letting us steal a little bit of your experience. I will do my best to preserve your legacy. And yes, we are in Paradiso. V.I.MO.