Arts & Crafts: Oltrarno

“He who works with his hands is a LABOURER. He who works with his hands and his head is a CRAFTSMAN. He who works with his hands, head and his heart is an ARTIST”

                                                     Saint Francis of Assisi

Shopping in Florence is a step into history and traditions of artisanal laboratories. My favorite places are family-run workshops in Oltrarno, but not only! Florence’s authentic artisanal crafts range from leather to ceramics, from linen to silk, paper and perfumes. The best district for finding Florentine artisans is, hands-down, the Oltrarno, still preserving a medieval atmosphere just off-the-beaten-path enough to be hidden treasures.

Some exmples of favourite Florentine artisans : we might meet them along the way!

Viviana: not only a purse-shopping experience. You’re invited to look around, get a feel for the craft of leather-making, or even help design an item that Viviana and her family make for you in the workshop. Modesty and commitment: this is what makes her workshop one of the most authentic Florentine treasures.

Leonardo: forget the trinkets in the souvenir shops. Meet jeweller and artisan Leonardo at his family studio attached to the Vasari Corridor. Leonardo belongs to a family of goldsmiths and sculptors who have been using traditional methods for many generations. If you like unique stunning pieces, pearls and semiprecious stones this is your paradise.

Daniela: entering her goldsmith lab is like breathing 500 hundred years of Florentine history and trends since the Medici family housed the best goldsmiths by the Ponte Vecchio. Don’t expect a luxury store, you’ll find a dusty worshop, few gorgeous hand made rings and necklaces, pictures in black and white showing you the water level reached during the terrible flood of 1966, chisels, old tools will bring you back to an antic authentic Florentine dimension. Daniela designs  unique collections for many important fashion maisons. If you were looking for the real production behind the scenes of glittering shop windows… well, here is the real Florence with flair!

Riccardo: he doesn’t like to be considered an artist, but he truly is. He uses paintbrushes, but is not a painter. At his lab you will smell varnishes and colors, glue and paper. He whistles, smiles and in five minutes creates in front of you a colorful masterpiece of “marbleized paper.” Riccardo carries on the antique tradition of producing patterns of a veined or mottled appearance in imitation of marble by using the most vivid (sometime FLUO!) acrylic colors. Come an see how they float on a special liquid rich of natural glues. The colors are magically turned into patterns and absorbed by the paper. Voilà… your unique Florentine piece of paper is ready to be framed!

Your Art & Crafts tour will be an enchanting experience to meet art, culture, Florentine characters and local private spaces. In half a day we can visit lots of interesting venues according to your own interests:  a perfume maker, a goldsmith, an antique dealer, a leather designer, a mosaic maker… let yourself be inspired by the pictures, and for any specific requests please contact:

Suggested Itinerary

  • Length: up to three hours.
  • Meeting point: at the lobby of your hotel if located in the downtown Florence (or any other spot available upon request)
  • Main visited sites and content: Piazza Pitti, Piazza Santo Spirito, Ponte Vecchio,  Santa Felicita church and Pontormo’s deposition, entrance to a mosaic maker laboratory, one florentine paper lab, visit to one of the oldest antique dealers “bottega” and local shoemaker or leather goods florentine designer. (Make a wish…I’ll accomplish any request on your shopping list!)

For  further information or tailor-made requests please contact:

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Written by Elena

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