The discover of craftsmanship in Florence is a very rich experience, which will guide you through the intricate streets of the center to the shops of Oltrarno, to discover historical traditions and now rare crafts. From leather goods to goldsmiths, passing through bookbinders and, of course, gastronomy, craftsmanship in Florence is a true vocation for entire families, who jealously hand down their secrets from generation to generation.
The artisan shops in which the ancient Florentine crafts are carried out are so deeply rooted in the territory that they characterize the history and the physiognomy of the city itself. In these shops, crafts that were born in the Renaissance are carried out and artisanal and artistic products are made that represent a unique heritage throughout the world. A set of different figures move within these shops: artisans who grind glass, decorators, engravers, potters who reproduce the trades of their fathers and grandparents from whom they learned gestures and secrets, combining materials innovation and tradition, ancient and new knowledge..
The stone-paved streets of Florence have been worn down throughout the centuries by a myriad of craftsmen and artists, working with leather, paint, silk and gold. Also, one of the most wonderful things about Florence is that you can find a craftsperson to make just about anything your heart desires, from custom shoes and suits to stationery, books, clothing and furniture. The picturesque Italian city has also made its mark on fashion history as the home of Gucci, and its venerable design influence is still felt today.
In Florence, there are still many artisans practicing the trades that are generations old. Every neighbourhood of Florence pulsed with the lifeblood of these trades – the making of everything from hats to belts, keys, goblets, rugs, spoons, shoes and stockings. Each craftsperson had a role to play in Florentine society, and each contributed to the city’s culture of high technical skill, reputation for quality and economic power.
In the mid-1100s guilds of artisans began to be established in Florence which, in the following centuries, were destined to be protagonists of the political, cultural and artistic evolution of the city. These corporations call themselves Arti, which comes from the Latin word Arswhich meant that it meant “physical or mental ability to build something”. Arti refer to the ability to build, create, model, it is, in its purest sense, craftsmanship.
There were twenty-one arts in Florence, seven major arts and seven minor arts. Each with its statute, its seat, its coat of arms and its patron saint. The major arts, including the art of Calimala (merchants who in the first place dedicated themselves to exporting products), the art of the Medici and the Apothecaries (which will include prominent personalities, such as Dante Alighieri), the art of Silk (or Por Santa Maria), arrived in 1300 to control the city on a political level. The craftsmanship, creating with the hands was instead a peculiarity of the minor arts.’arte de’ Cuoiai and Galigai, closely linked to each other.
Florence’s ascension to the top of the art, craft and fashion industries started in the 12th century when its craft guilds, the Corporazioni di Arte e Mestieri, dominated the city’s economic and social organisation. The seven major guilds (the arti maggiori), five middle guilds (arti mediane) and nine minor guilds (arti minori) organised the lives of all craftspeople,
The “International Handicraft Exhibition” is an event that in a certain sense encompasses all these activities was born in Florence, still today highlight and give prominence to the fruits of their land or of the hands of those who live there. To encourage in various ways the birth and proliferation of events aimed at enhancing the typical product of a territory, between the 1920s and 1930s, the birth of a series of parties, festivals or exhibitions aimed at highlighting the peculiarities, in the form of man-made artifacts or products given by nature.
Today, the style of the artisan workshops in Florence is known and loved all over the world, thanks to its ability to preserve the past and renew it with productions that look to the future (it is no coincidence, for example, that Pitti Uomo, one of the most renowned events of international fashion, takes place in Florence ). The path of craftsmanship that will lead you to learn about the trades, techniques and materials typical of Florentine craftsmanship will be guided by images that will tell you, in a suggestive way, the reality and the work of the small large workshops that often live hidden in the streets of the historic center and in which, even today, art is born.
As early as 1300, the city of Florence was renowned for the production of leather, both for the quality of the tanning and for the quality of the artifacts. Florence has been, over the centuries, home to artists and artisans. Handicrafts in the Tuscan capital have always had a very important impact on the economic and political life of the city. The Tuscan international leather fashion industry is one of the trades that began flourishing in the 1300s, when the city had some 1,500 shoemakers.
The Florence handcrafted leather goods, the typical scent of real leather, worked by skilled hands. In addition to the high quality of these products, also the aesthetic value of bags, suitcases, briefcases, wallets, belts and leather gloves. As well as making shoes for locals, the cobblers took part in the export trade and formed the roots of Tuscany’s leather industry. Some 600 years later, their skills would indirectly lead to the birth of the Gucci fashion house.
The art of Beccai was that dedicated to slaughterhouses. Initially it was located on the old bridge where it lived for more than two centuries. The leathers obtained from the art of Beccai were taken and worked by the art of Galigai. The art of tanning leather was handed down from generation to generation. The famous saying “learn the art and put it aside” refers precisely to the importance of learning an artisan skill and then putting it to good use. In Florence, people went to the shop to learn, and in the shop the master craftsman taught his young apprentices the trade of working leather.
In the 1560s, the Medici decided to move the Leather workshops. The art of Galigai,via delle Conce and dei Conciatori. The tanning of leathers and its artifacts flourished in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, obtaining a leading role. In the 16th century the fourteen minor arts were incorporated into 4 universities. The art of Galigai, the art of Shoemakers and the art of Correggiai were united in the University of Mastri del Cuoiame. A little later the major art de ‘Vaiai and Pellicciai was also annexed to the university dedicated to the production of skins, so the university was named Universities de’ Vaiai e de ‘Cuoiai.
Florence Leather School was born in the immediate postwar periodfrom the collaboration of the Franciscan Minor Friars of the Basilica of Santa Croce and the Gori family, leather craftsmen in Florence since the 1930s. They were transmitted from the knowledge of the various qualities of leathers and the art of manual leather cutting, up to the processing and creation of various leather products (bags, briefcases, small leather goods, etc.). The most capable were also trained in the art of artistic leather goods (writing desks, jewelry boxes, leatherwork, etc.) and in the decoration of the leather with 22-karat gold, hot made with hand-made bronze punches.
The traditional Florentine mosaic technique in semi-precious stones, which dates to the end of Medicean Florence. The craftsmanship is considered to be the highest for refinement, both for restoration or for the creation of new artefacts. The craftsmanship use the stones and marble, selecting them carefully and making the most of the infinite variety of shades they offer, mainly using jasper, chalcedony, lapis lazuli and malachite. She uses the traditional techniques including bow openwork, staining and polishing to create beautiful miniatures, which turn into jewellery, paintings and tabletops.
Inspired by the iconographic repertoire of the Renaissance and by nature, artefacts and decorative lines, Florentine decoration constantly experimenting with new forms and languages. Florentine decoration focus on sustainability is reflected in the exclusive use of natural materials, as well as in the aesthetic recovery of pre-existing materials and paintings. In the furniture, florentine decoration brings to new life, through renovation or makeover.
Stimulated by the aesthetic sense of the past, glass and crystal restore and invent bevelled and hand-engraved glassware and crystal, emblems of elegance and expressiveness. The shapes are blown by the mouths of traditional Tuscan blowers. Grinding and engraving are done strictly by hand using carborundum wheels to rough, grinding stones to finish and engrave, cork wheels wet with pumice to polish and wet felt wheels with cerium oxide to return the true brilliance.
The workshops specializing in the processing of gold and silver for the production of jewels are traditionally concentrated in the Ponte Vecchio area. It is in this area that Fratelli Peruzzi has been active since 1860, one of the oldest Florentine companies registered with the local Chamber of Commerce, with the distinctive FI 114 brand. Here you will find exclusive objects made of silver, gold and crystals : necklaces, bracelets, earrings and cameos, but also prestigious cufflinks, frames and candlesticks with a unique charm. Among the Oltrarno shops, the NAA Studio of Negar Azhar Azari is a laboratory with a highly experimental and innovative character, which reinterprets the highest Florentine goldsmith tradition.
Bookbinding, one of the most ancient and precious traditions of Florence, that is the art that works paper and transforms it into splendid diaries, albums, diaries, address books, desk sets and much more. The ancient techniques of marbling and glue decoration of paper, which require precision and passion, embellish the sheets with precious streaks and floral motifs, on which the Florentine lily certainly stands out.
Florence has a great tradition of fashion that makes it one of the most active in the country and beyond. In addition to the craft shops, especially of leather goods (there are many between Piazza Santa Croce and Borgo de ‘Greci ), the high fashion industry is very important. In fact, the city boasts fashion houses such as Gucci, Enrico Coveri, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermanno Scervino, Patrizia Pepe, Emilio Pucci, Roy Roger’s, Conte of Florence and many others. The major high fashion boutiques are concentrated in the luxury commercial district, in via de ‘Tornabuoni and via della Vigna Nuova.
The city has the only Italian museum dedicated to fashion, the Costume Gallery, which traces a detailed history of the fashions that have followed one another over time, with a collection that reaches more than 6000 artifacts, including ancient clothes, accessories, theatrical costumes and films of great documentary relevance and numerous prestigious examples of Italian and foreign stylists. There is also the Salvatore Ferragamo museum in the Spini Feroni palace in via de ‘Tornabuoni and in this city the first Italian High Fashion show was held in via dei Serragli in 1953.
Florence hosts every year a series of fashion events that are among the most prestigious and important on the international scene: Pitti Immagine. During the event, vernissages, grand galas, presentations, fashion shows, social events and exclusive parties are organized throughout the city and metropolitan area. The series of events is held in various areas of the city including, in addition to the Sala Bianca of Palazzo Pitti, also at the Fortezza da Basso, Cinema Odeon, Piazza Santa Croce, Palagio di Parte Guelfa, Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, Leopolda station., Ponte Vecchio, as well as in many discos, nightclubs and fashion boutiques in the city.
In Florence every year the Fashion Itineraries in Florence takes place, a series of guided tours that allow you to visit the places where the fashion products that have made and still make the history of the city are created. Over sixty appointments for twenty itineraries, which lead to twenty-six ateliers (tailors, handmade shirts, wedding dresses, tailor-made linen and kits, art fabrics, tailor-made footwear, jewels and stones, personalized essences and perfumes), ten art venues and four museums in the city linked to Florentine fashion. The initiative is promoted by the Department of Productive Activities and the Fashion System of the Municipality of Florence, as part of the Mestieri della Moda project, which aims to introduce tourists from all over the world to the Florence of the important tradition in the field of fashion..
The important Polimoda school of design and business of fashion is based in Florence, as well as the Matteo Lanzoni Documentation Center of Polimoda which represents a large database at the service of those who deal with fashion, from students to designers, from scholars to sector employees. In piazza de ‘Pitti there is the Italian Academy, a fashion school that holds courses in fashion, graphics and visual communication, fabric design, and organizes masters in the art of fashion, and design of furniture products.
In Piazza Santa Croce there is the Scuola del Cuoio, as well as the IED Moda Lab which in Florence organizes annual courses specialized in fashion design and marketing. In Florence there is the Florence Center for Italian Fashion, a non-profit association that aims to promote and internationalize the Italian fashion system, provides the general lines of trade fair and promotional policy of Pitti Immagine, together with the another Florentine fashion association EMI-Ente Moda Italia.
Florence has always been the hub of innovation and the birthplace of dazzling minds. If you’re looking for unique and high-quality products to peruse while here, the city’s craftsmen are the place to start. Though the city’s crafts have transformed since its glory days, many of these age-old techniques are still alive today. Wandering through Florence’s narrow streets, from the Oltrarno to the main cathedral, you’ll find a blend of traditional artisans and innovators reinventing old crafts with a modern twist.
In the center or in the Oltrarno area, to discover quality craftsmanship, from leather goods to jewelery. Walking through Florence is a unique experience that allows us to rediscover the crafts of the ancient Florentine workshops, the lost arts, the most ancient materials worked through techniques that are preserved and consolidated from generation to generation.
Above the river
From museums to modern workshops, many of the artisanal crafts above the river are the same you’ll find in Florence’s famed museums.
The Jamie Lazzara’s violinmaking shop (No. 4r via dei Leoni). This master violinmaker and stringed instrument restorer is known for her spectacular handmade violins, instruments not so unlike the Accademia’s timeless wonders. To this end, in 1993 Itzhak Perlman ordered a violin built using the Stradivari “Soli” as a model (1714); the Lazzara copy was played during former President Obama’s inaugural concert in 2009.
Abacus (No. 50 via de’ Macci), a bookbinding laboratory that uses all-natural products to make its paper goodies. Vegetable glue, old-fashioned dyed leather and hand-folded sheets make this shop a true Florentine gem, a workshop that captures the authentic charm that its products exude. Here, you might even be inspired to take home a hand-bound diary as a keepsake of Florence’s artisanal side.
The master goldsmith Paolo Penko, a true artist of a jeweler who creates one-of-a-kind works produced according to centuries-old traditions of Florentine goldsmithing. Penko is also known for his ormolu reproductions of the fiorino, the former coin of Florence, which make wonderful gifts and signs of good things to come when celebrating a Baptism or other important moments. The workshop is located just a few steps from the Duomo (via F. Zannetti 14/16r).
In the Oltrarno
After cross the Ponte Vecchio, There’s Cassetti’s jewelry and watch founded in 1926 by Renzo Cassetti, this master silversmith shop has serviced clients as prestigious as the Vatican. After joining her father’s shop, Maria Grazia transformed the family business into an international silver enterprise. Now in its third generation, Cassetti offers handmade products ranging from jewelry to table art and home décor, all embossed, chased and decorated using age-old techniques.
The Mannina (No.16 via de Guidcciardini), one of Florence’s most beautiful shoe shops. Founded in 1953 by Master Calogero Mannina, this gem features handmade shoes of an unmistakable, traditional style, as originality and quality are the shop’s top priorities. The warm mahogany interior and lavish display beckon you to explore the shop’s exquisite selection of shoes.
The Argentiere Pagliai ( No.41/R Borgo S. Jacopo), where Paolo Pagliai (now third generation) carries on his family-owned silversmith business. In this silver-engraving workshop, the silversmith and restorer creates one-of-a-kind pieces in a space that mirrors his old-world charm. The shop is a reference point for antiquarians and collectors all over Italy, as the craftsman’s undeniable talent in metalworking and restoration makes him one of the best of his kind.
Across the river, in an area close to the Medici’s old residence, the Oltrarno area was the bustling hub of Florence’s craftsmen. The Officina Creativa (via Giano della Bella, No. 20) housing 20 artisans and their ateliers.
The Lorenzo Galgani’s workshop specialized in glass and crystal working, renowned for its glass and crystal sanding and engraving techniques; Lorenzo uses ancient traditions as a point of inspiration, making glass-based works of art touched with modern flair.
The Beatrice Ceramiche Artistiche, a ceramic atelier that welcomes visitors with open arms. After years of professional training around Florence and its surroundings, Beatrice Ceroni learned everything there is to know about the Tuscan ceramic tradition. With this classical base, Beatrice now adds her own style to the craft, creating more modern and contemporary pieces inspired by the whimsical world of Tuscany: airy creations with vibrant and beautiful colors.
The Roberta Giannoccaro’s workshop, where Roberta creates timeless micromosaic creations. Highly influenced by classical art, her dreamlike pieces are unlike anything else, achieving levels of perfection in every detail and color.
Il Vecchio Conventino is a unique place and an original experience, bringing together so many artisans in one place. It is divided into three stages, with the first one (this one) starting at Il Vecchio Conventino, in via Giano della Bella, 20/1 (Porta Romana area), where ARTEX, Centro per l’Artigianato Artistico e Tradizionale della Toscana is based, as well as more than 20 different workshops, where artisans work every day using traditional techniques of Florentine art and crafts.
There is a shopping itinerary mixed with craftsmanship in Florence,the Go2Artisans tours, which guide participants to discover the best craft shops in Florence, in collaboration with the Observatory of Art Professions, and add some stops dedicated to quality craftsmanship.
Stone of Medici
Restoration of stone and various stone materials, recovery of jars, pottery, jars, terracotta in general wood and / or iron. Stone restoration and concrete derivatives of any type of architectural element of both historical and cultural interest such as friezes, shelves, columns, portals, statues, fountains…
The activity of the Florentine art workshop Scopetani consists in painting in oil, completely by hand, paintings for furniture on canvas and table. Still continuing today the tradition of the ancient techniques of the masters of the past, with great passion and dedication…
The Argenteria Sacchi artisan factory in Florence was founded after the end of the Second World War thanks to the will and passion of the silversmith Franco Sacchi and still today Argenteria Sacchi produces and preserves the ancient traditions of handmade artisanal products in Florence…
The Monechi family has been operating in the wood sector for four generations, preserving traditional processing methods. Our company is artisanal, tied to traditions. We specialize in all types of furniture: kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms and more…
Parrini Art Ceramics
Traditional Tuscan artistic ceramics, gift items and ornamental items, exclusive decorations. Corner of Via dei Calzaioli 30 meters from Piazza della Signoria. To maintain the artisan taste of handmade things, the workmanship of the pieces is still forged today…
Massimiliano Corsi restoration
Restoration of ceramics, stone, glass, gilding; since 1991 at the service of the best Italian antique dealers. Massimiliano Corsi Restoration and craftsmanship deals with the recovery and production of majolica, porcelain, earthenware, terracotta, enamel, stone, stone, marble, alabaster, ivory…
Artistic ceramics in Montelupo Fiorentino where you can find a wide choice of furnishing accessories and objects for the house of own production in ceramics and with particular and unique decorations. An ideal place for wedding gifts. Wide assortment of ceramic panels…
Artistic colored jewels with pearls and beads from all over the world and of all materials. Original elements of fused glass, wood, metal, fiber. La Materia che ride is a craft shop in Florence where lamp beads are produced created in the studio…
Artisan bookbinding and artistic souvenirs. Realization of artistic gift objects in leather, wood and marbled paper of our production. All items are handmade in our workshop…
Production of art objects in silver and gold made by hand with fired enamels, engravings and guillochè: frames, boxes and snuffboxes, which reproduce and interpret a variety of historical styles from the Baroque to the Empire, from the Fabergè to the Art Deco…
Our production is concentrated on jars, basins, vases and many other garden items, all made according to the ancient dictates and entirely by hand. The use of the famous ‘land of Impruneta’ (a clay containing sand, calcium carbonate and iron oxide…
Artistic workmanship of the wrought iron. If these are the news you are looking for you have found the right company contact us for a demonstration or a quote. Production of aluminum frames in Florence made with the best techniques and with passion and ancient tradition…
Ethnic gallery with objects, jewels, furniture and fabrics personally sought by the owner to make Masai a unique ethnic shop of its kind. From an adventure lasting more than 10 years to discover the most fascinating places in Central Africa…