Shopping in the artisan workshops in Oltrarno area
Everything you need to know about the great artisan heritage in the city
Hands that carve, engrave, stucco, weave and paint. You see them moving meticulously in their workshops, working at centuries-old crafts, to give that touch of colour and creativity to the left bank of the Arno. They are the faces of artistic craftsmanship telling the story of the Oltrarno, the area of Florence on the other side of the Arno, with all its perfume of art and beauty that seems to deceive the passing of time. And it really does deceive it because the every-day reality of the Florence of the Oltrarno still today retains, unchanged, the charm of the city of crafts that developed at the foot of the Pitti Palace.
In the middle of the Sixteenth century it was the Medici family, lovers of fine things that sewed the seed of these excellent artistic productions. Walking through the heart of the Oltrarno you will re-discover, one by one, workshop after workshop, the open doors of the many goldsmiths, book-binders, furniture restorers, hand-made shoes, ceramic and furniture decorators. It is not a coincidence that the district of San Frediano is linked to the name of the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, a legendary figure in the ancient and glorious art of silk manufacturing.
The route continues to Piazza del Tiratoio which owes its name to the ancient presence of the tiratoi - today no longer in existence, on which the wool workers stretched their washed or dyed fabrics to dry and stretch. A past that can still be perceived today when the artisans roll up the shutters of their workshops every morning. This is how the Oltrarno becomes an open-air museum narrating the brilliance of a district, embellishing it with its many jewels, from hand-worked stones to skilfully engraved silver.