Italia su misura
Discover the craft cult addresses in Florence and Tuscany
An extraordinary and exciting journey through Italian excellence, from north to south, islands included: 100 select addresses representing Italy’s best crafts and artistic items. This is the underlying theme of the Italia su misura guide, published by Gruppo Editoriale with the collaboration of Milan’s Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte and Florence’s Associazione Osservatorio dei Mestieri d’Arte – OmA, with the support of Vacheron Constantin, the historic Geneva maison of fine watchmaking.
Following the success of the previous publications devoted to Florence and Milan, Firenze su misura and Milano su misura, and the launching of the italia-sumisura.it portal, here comes a tribute to the handmade, to the artisan know-how that nowhere in the world is as deeply rooted as it is Italy.
Ranging from tailoring to jewelry, from home décor to pottery, furnishings, musical instruments and folk traditions, these wonderful worlds are described through over 800 pictures taken by photographer Dario Garofalo.
Among the artisans featured in the guide, 12 are based in Tuscany, 11 of whom are in Florence, nearly a record-setting number. Let’s start with Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, located in Via della Scala, a benchmark in art of perfume-making.
A wide choice of age-old preparations, beauty products, essences and perfumes, but the company’s signature product is the potpourri. Not far away, in Via di Santa Lucia, is the workshop of Vivian Saskia Wittmer, a shoemaker of German origin who, after having trained in some of Europe’s best workshops, settled in Florence.
Located in Via Cavour is the main shop of Il Papiro, which creates paper objects- diaries, notebooks, address books, photo albums, desk objects and boxes- all decorated by hand, by making use of a technique that has nearly disappeared, paper marbling. In the heart of downtown Florence, in Via Ricasoli, is the workshop of Scarpelli Mosaici, one of the few living experts in the age-old tradition of semi-precious stone mosaic-making, which dates back to the Renaissance age.
Moving towards the Lungarno we find another example of high Florentine craftsmanship, Loretta Caponi, at the corner of Piazza Antinori and Via delle Belle Donne. A choice of over ten thousand tablecloths, towels, sheets, cushions, infant and childrenswear and as many models of handmade men’s and women’s lingerie. If you are looking for unique hats in terms of quality and style, head straight to Via della Spada. Here you will find Grevi’s showroom (the workshop is based in Signa). The shop’s creations appear on theatre stages and in films and are permanently showcased at Palazzo Pitti’s Costume Gallery.
A few minutes’ walk and here we are at the jeweller’s shop Pestelli, in Via Borgo SS. Apostoli: amazing collector’s and furnishing objects in gold, silver and semi-precious stones, as well as a variety of tableware items. Located in Via San Giuseppe, in the Santa Croce neighborhood, is the Scuola del Cuoio (School of Leather), founded in Florence in the postwar period. It specializes in the production of women’s handbags, but it also offers wallets, belts and jackets.
Across the Arno river, in the heart of the San Frediano neighborhood, is Antico Setificio Fiorentino, a silk factory dating back to the mid-1700s which still produces a wide choice of precious fabrics. Housed in the fourteenth-century Sapiti Tower, amid ribbed vaults, engraved capitals and stone walls, is the workshop of silversmith and restorer Paolo Pagliai, who carries on a family tradition dating back to 1930.
Situated along Borgo San Jacopo is the Atelier Bianco Bianchi (the workshop is in Pontassieve), who makes use of the nearly lost technique of scagliola, which consists in producing architectural elements that resemble marble and semi-precious stones and decorate the world’s most beautiful homes.
And now we go to Lucca. The must-stop is located in Via Santa Giustina: Antica Tipografia Biagini, a well-known artisan shop of long-standing. It still uses original twentieth-century machinery to make business cards, wedding cards and bookplates, and since the fifties it has also been binding books by hand and publishing them.