The family patriarch and company founder Emanuele Fontanini, embarked on his career of figurine crafting in 1893 as a talented 13 year-old apprentice to an artist in Bagni di Lucca, an area of Tuscany known for its great arts and crafts. Fontanini expanded his knowledge and skills in art through travels to European cities. He returned to Bagni di Lucca to launch his company in 1908, using money earned from the sale of his wares throughout the continent.
Working with the finest painters and sculptors in Tuscany, Fontanini began crafting figures and decorations of heirloom quality in a single room shop. In time, the House of Fontanini gained recognition and acclaim for its work and Fontanini’s sons, Ugo, Mario and Aldo, joined him in the business. Later, Mario’s sons, Ugo, Mariano and Pier became the third generation to head up the rapidly growing enterprise. The family’s fourth generation is taking the House of Fontanini into the 21st Century. Today, the namesake of his great grandfather Emanuele along with Stefano, Marco, Luca and Alessandro have assumed the leadership roles. Founder and family patriarch Emanuele died in 1977 at the age of 97. Although no longer artists themselves, the fourth generation of the Fontanini Family continues the tradition of crafting the eloquent Nativities and figures.
In 1973, Roman, Inc. became the exclusive distributor for Fontanini Nativities. Already a world famous name in Italian craftsmanship for 65 years before the Nativities became available in the United States, the collection was prized for its lifelike sculpting, meticulous hand painting and attention to detail. The partnership with Roman has made Fontanini Nativities the most popular in America for 40 years.