I had met Alberti at the Frankfurt trade show, as he has his own booth there to sell violins. The quantity and type of instrument we were looking for is not what he brings to the trade show, so we decided we would come by his place. It seems I’d seem him a couple of times before at other trade shows. He is a buyer and seller of violins, a professional violinist himself, not a luthier. He was playing, the very week we were there, in one of Wagner’s symphony’s in the orchestra. He kept talking about how hard the music was and he had rehearsal the next day. He lives in a nearby city, Gelsenkirchen. We had arranged to meet him at 4, but we ended not getting there until 6 pm! We met him at his house, a beautifully appointed three story apartment on a busy street. He welcomed us into his sitting room.
His wife, daughter (who was acted as translator) and mother and granddaughter were all home. They were having snacks in the living room and watching TV. The daughter went and got Siobhan some toys and the wife entertained her in the living room while Alex and I looked at violins. Siobhan really liked it there; she still talks about Alberti's house, and enjoys watching the videos we took there.
Alberti was ready for us and he had about 30 violins to wade through. We ended up buying 17 of them. His were in perfect condition, mostly ready for a player, as he has several luthiers from Poland that does the restorations and set-up for him. Alberti is from Poland and, while he didn’t say where he got his violins from, it sort of seemed he got them from there, as he spoke of many friends and contacts in Poland.
After a couple hours of looking and selecting the instruments we wanted, it seemed we were on our way to a great lifetime friendship. Alberti and his family are very warmhearted and just a joy to be with. Well, we were now way past dinnertime, so we headed out on foot to a nearby restaurant called The White House. Their specialty was meat from South America. It was very nice. Alberti and his wife came with us to dinner and we managed to converse somewhat, although their English was not fluent. Alex still thinks this was the best dinner of the trip!
Alberti's daughter, Patricia and her daughter, left to drive home as they lived an hour south of Alberti. Patricia also was at the trade show acting as Alberti’s translator there.
By now, it was very late and we decided just to sleep in front of Alberti’s house in the RV. It was a very noisy night although a bit less in the wee hours of the night, but as morning came we were awakened by the street train and a lot of traffic. We awoke and started driving at 6 am toward Aachen. We had arranged to meet Alberti in Koln, right across the street from the Sonatina shop, to finalize the transaction (pay him) as he had business near there and knew of the place. Alex told him we needed to go to the Sonatina shop the next day, so it was all arranged.
In Aachen, we tried to find mineral baths to take Siobhan to, but none would admit young children. Aachen is famous for their healing mineral baths. We had read and heard about this, but none of the stuff we read mentioned any age cutoff. Turns out, the water is too harsh for a child’s skin. We were discouraged, but we managed to have some fun and found a beautiful park that we had all to ourselves for a couple hours. Then we headed back to Koln to pick up the violins.