Tuscany boasts a very rich tradition in the field of art crafts: from ceramics to goldsmiths, from high fashion to textiles, from wrought iron to silver, from scagliola to handmade paper, from glass to marble, from cabinet-making to the fresco with trompe l’oeil, from the shoemakers to leather goods, from ceramic to alabaster, from custom tailoring to embroidered linen just to name a few. They are artifacts admired for their incomparable craftsmanship and ambits at the international level.
In fact the Tuscan artistic craftsmanship has a particular line of good taste and refinement and represents the living memory of the ancient traditions and crafts that have their roots since the Etruscan age. It has always been a leading sector, driving the economy of the region. Until today in Tuscany, artistic craftsmanship continues to innovate and seek new forms of expression. Florence is also considered the capital of craftsmanship, the city of artistic workshops where even today you can learn how a masterpiece comes from the skillful hands of master craftsmen. A holiday in Tuscany means discovering the riches that this land has produced thanks to the work and wisdom of man.
The processing of alabaster (hydrated calcium sulphate) is an integral part of the craft in Tuscany. Volterra is the main center of production, famous throughout the world for works that now cover an infinite range of objects: vases, statues, bookends, glasses, urns, cups, boxes, lamps, watches, objects of sacred art and others turned and carved in this stone rich in colors (white, veined, yellow, red). The extraordinary elegance and beauty of this soft material was already used by the Etruscans. The guided tour of craft workshops is particularly suitable for completion in the Guarnacci Museum of Volterra which houses beautiful urns and alabaster objects.
Municipality: Volterra (PI)
Via Orti di S.Agostino, 28 – 56048 – Volterra (PI)
Telefono: +39 0588 87968
Esposizione: via Don Minzoni, 18 – 56048 – Volterra (PI)
Alab´Arte è una bottega artigiana di scultura situata a 50m dal Museo Guarnacci. La bottega è aperta a visite di gruppo con spiegazioni sui metodi di lavoro in alabastro.
Negozio estivo: via dei Cavalleggeri nord – 57020 – Marina di Bibbona (LI)
Tel. +39 0586 600059
La Ditta Romano Bianchi si dedica dall´escavazione, alla lavorazione artigianale, alla commercializzazione diretta in Italia e all´esportazione all´estero dell’alabastro, presso la sede in Volterra, dove si trova anche la cava da cui viene estratto il tipico Alabastro volterrano. Negli ultimi dieci anni la Ditta si è specializzata nella realizzazione di oggetti per l´illuminazione di interni come lampadari, applique, lampade da tavolo, vasi ornamentali, centri tavola, colonne e piatti, tutti torniti, lavorati e rifiniti a mano. L’azienda organizza workshop rivolti ad artisti italiani e stranieri, che partecipano agli incontri per apprendere o affinare le proprie abilità nella scultura e nell´intarsio dell´Alabastro.
Fin da giovanissima, Gloria Giannelli ha dato un´impronta particolare, molto femminile, all´artigianato alabastrino, distinguendosi nella lavorazione ricca di trafori e ricami particolarmente elaborati. Per l´eleganza dei suoi manufatti, le sono stati dedicati articoli su riviste locali, nazionali e internazionali.
Telefono: +39 0588 88452
Silvia effettua le sue opere scultoree e i suoi delicati trafori, creando un ambiente accogliente dove poter ammirare le varie tecniche di lavorazione tradizionale dall´ideazione a lavoro finito. Da oltre otto anni effettua anche corsi di scultura per bambini ed adulti.
Scultore e docente dei corsi di scultura in alabastro presso il Centro Interculturale Villa Palagione.
Nato in una famiglia dove tutti, da sempre, lavorano l´alabastro, Daniele Boldrini ha respirato per anni l´atmosfera della bottega artigiana. Versatile e curioso, ha appreso anche la lavorazione delle pietre dure e la preparazione di stampi in terracotta per la riproduzione con altri materiali. Ma la sua passione resta il figurativo, che esprime nelle sue sculture dedicate agli animali e alla natura, nella sua bottega vicino al Museo Guarnacci.
Nato nel 1949 a Volterra, artigiano ornatista, si è formato sin dall´età dell´adolescenza nelle vecchie botteghe cogliendo i segreti dei vecchi artigiani. Anche se oggi il lavoro è reso agevole dagli utensili, i suoi lavori sono realizzati interamente a mano, con i metodi di una volta, su proprio progetto o su idea del committente. Tra i suoi lavori più significativi, la realizzazione, in scala, della Cattedrale di S. Patrick a New York.
Impresa individuale che rappresenta la continuità di un lavoro di artigianato tradizionale tramandato di padre in figlio. Per dieci anni Giorgio ha partecipato a mostre internazionali di artigianato artistico. Nel 2000, con l´apertura del negozio “Opus Artis”, inizia un nuovo studio sulla sonorità delle pietre … l´Alabastro Sonoro. Con passione e creatività realizza i primi flauti traversi etruschi e poi in collaborazione con maestri musicisti, costruisce flauti dritti e traversi con varie intonazioni in scala temperata, oltre a chitarre e basso elettrici, percussioni, corni, trombe e ocarine e litofoni in alabastro.Un vero e proprio studio di liuteria applicato ad una pietra, insolito materiale per uno strumento.
In Florence, the silversmiths decorate vases, silver plates and jewels in embossment and chisel, and boast the great sculptures of the Renaissance, Benvenuto Cellini, as a master. In fact Florentine silverware has its roots in the ancient processing systems of the fifteenth century. Each object is rigorously handmade, this to allow anyone to appreciate each piece of silverware in its proper value and identifying the artistic qualities determined by the use of one or more ancient techniques. The union between the ancient processing techniques, such as hammering, chiselling, engraving, together with ideas, design, talent and quality, give life to objects unequaled in originality, beauty and functionality.
Municipality: Florence (FI)
The use of braiding straw braids to make hats dates back to the 14th century. In Signa, in the early 1700s Domenico Michelacci developed a special technique to soften straw for hats. In fact, braided hats made Signa (Fi) the capital of one of the first high-end manufacturing districts, elevating their hats to luxury items. Extremely appreciated for the fineness of their weaves, the result of the work of the first excellent artisans in the area, throughout the nineteenth century the hats were transported along the Arno to reach the port of Livorno, where they embarked for the whole world. Emperor Napoleon III personally rewarded the producers of “straw hats of Florence” with the honor medal at the Universal Expo in Paris. More recently, in many films produced by Holywood, the artists wore hats made in Tuscany, such as that of Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” and many others. Today in the territory many companies are active, gathered in the Consortium of the straw hat of Florence and still today in Signa the ancient tradition continues.
Municipalities: Signa (FI) e Firenze (FI)
Tuscany boasts an ancient tradition of potteries that dates back to before the year 1000, in particular in the area of Montelupo Fiorentino (FI). Initially, in the furnaces were used commonly used objects such as plates, glasses and containers for food and drink. Gradually the production of ceramics has diversified orienting itself towards the creation of objects for furnishing and of high technology components and products. In fact, during the 13th century and focusing mainly on the manufacture of majolica (glazed ceramic), the local activity found fundamental opportunities for development with the conquest of Pisa (1406) from Florence which opened up access to the sea to the Florentine goods trade in the Mediterranean.
The Tuscan ceramics are famous for the enamel, for the decorations, for the colors and the forms, produced with the technique called “Maiolica”. Even today the craftsmanship in Tuscany is rich and varied and the tradition of hand-painted ceramics in numerous workshops scattered throughout the territory continues. The Strada della Ceramica di Montelupo has recently been created, a system that combines ceramic art with tourist accommodation, cultural aspects with a typically Tuscan landscape, the enhancement of typical products with a rich calendar of events. In fact, going around the streets of the historic center of Montelupo to see the shops of artisans displaying strictly handmade objects is a very pleasant and instructive journey. The itinerary includes other neighboring towns such as Empoli, Capraia Limite and Montespertoli where you can visit and learn about the artisan workshops of majolica production.
In Montelupo there is a ceramics school where the ancient art of master potters is taught. For those who want to learn about the history of Montelupo ceramics, you can also visit the Ceramics Museum. In June, the renowned Montelupo Ceramics Festival takes place, an event not to be missed.
Municipalities: Montelupo Fiorentino (FI), Montespertoli (FI), Capraia e Limite (FI), Empoli (FI), Asciano (SI), Pontedera (SI)
Wrought iron is very old and linked to the production of weapons. Over the centuries the Casentino area has proved to be a center of considerable importance for the manufacture of iron. In this valley, illustrious blacksmiths worked, such as Mastro Adamo da Romena skilled in forging and chiselling arms and armor in the Middle Ages and the Stia workshops built by the Aiazzi, Scalpellini, Ricci and Benucci families in the nineteenth century. Wrought iron acquires value due to its characteristic shape which recalls a past world. The processing in fact has always remained the same over time. From the laborious work of the Tuscan blacksmiths lamp posts, furniture, studs, embossed plates and even casseroles in iron, copper, brass and silver are born. In Stia there is the Biennial of Wrought Iron Art which also hosts the World Forging Championship.
Municipalities: Pratovecchio Stia (AR), Livorno (LI)
The engraving technique, widely used in prehistoric times, both on stone (rock carvings) and in the classical age, in Greek black-figure pottery found widespread use, over time and up to the present day, in the decoration of art objects and in the ‘architecture. The technique consists in engraving with burin or niello on a matrix that can be of wood, linoleum or metal (copper, zinc or steel) according to what is proposed to reproduce the image by spreading the ink on the parts in relief. The print is obtained through the use of a chalcographic press which compresses the sheet of paper moistened against the inked metal plate.
There are several engraving techniques: etching, aquatint, soft paint, black manner. From each metal matrix, before it becomes unusable, you get only a limited number of prints “. The engraving on metal was developed simultaneously in Italy and in Germany around the middle of the fifteenth century. There are important artists representing this technique such as Pollaiolo, Mantegna, Dürer, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Piranesi, Goya and also Picasso. Visiting the workshop an engraving is an experience that catapults into another historical period.
Municipality: Florence (FI)
Perhaps not everyone knows that the drum cymbals used by many world-famous musicians such as Rolling Stone and others are made in a small company of Tuscan artisans, a leader since 1931 in the production of percussion instruments that have handed down centuries-old craftsmanship from generation to generation. In fact, in the nineteenth century in Pistoia there were several family-run companies that made church pipe organs also used by Puccini, Verdi and Mascagni. At the beginning of the twentieth century in this area the organ builders, with long experience in metal casting, began to devote themselves to making brass and bronze musical plates. The great turning point and the boom in percussion instruments occurred in the two-year period 60s-70s. Always Pistoia, a unique music museum has been set up: it is the Luigi Tronci Foundation which includes a vast collection of musical instruments including bells, plates, gongs and tam tams from all over the world and from every era.
In Florence there are some shops that build musical instruments by hand, mainly violins. The Tuscan luthiers are internationally recognized for the skill with which they make their artifacts. Inside the Accademia Gallery, another Museum of Musical Instruments, preserves admirable examples of violins among others.
Municipalities: Pistoia (PT), Florence (FI)
BINDING, DECORATED PAPER AND PARCHMENT
The origin of the bookbinding is contextual to the advent of Christianity in Europe, in fact it was discovered that by folding sheets of parchment or papyrus in half and sewing them along the fold, it was possible to create a book that could be written on all sides of the paper. The advent of printing in 1455 increased the production of printed matter and, therefore, the sheets needed tying which was hand made book by book. Over time the binding has become increasingly simple to become an industrial product.
However, there are still today in Florence, expert craftsmen who are able to bind the volumes following ancient artisan bookbinding techniques and thus realizing true masterpieces. The interventions are mainly made on ancient books or particular and rare editions for book-loving collectors. The work involves the restoration of paper and leather, including objects other than books, as well as the use of a variegated number of “punishments” or small irons (more than 1500) which allows to recreate decorative elements from different eras or to create new and modern compositions depending on the book.
The bark paper was born in China and then developed by the Arabs and reached Europe in the 12th century. It was a mediocre product compared to parchment. Things changed from 1264 when in Fabriano, in the Marche region, the first European paper mill began preparing the dough using the hydraulic multi-stack pile driven by a camshaft connected to a water wheel. More efficient than the mortar of the Chinese or the grindstone of the Arabs, moved by men or animals, the hammers, working vertically, crush hemp and linen faster and better, thus reducing costs and improving quality. The new technology was very successful and soon new mills were built all over Italy. The monopoly of Italian paper lasted until the middle of the fourteenth century, when new paper-making centers arose first in France and then in Germany. The development of new technologies brought paper production exclusively to industrial level, however the ancient technique is still used today to produce excellent quality artisan paper mainly for watercolor painting and engraving.
The Via della carta della Toscana intends to enhance cultural tourism to the paper production district of the territories of Lucca and Pistoia, an area that has had a centuries-old tradition in paper processing since the fifteenth century. Along the way, to visit the Pietrabuona Paper Museum in Pescia and the ruins of industrial paper archeology, such as old mills and factories, a true outdoor manufacturing museum that allows access to an articulated network of historical, cultural and recreational activities related to the prestigious Pescia paper, used for papal letterheads and paper money.
Municipalities: Florence (FI), Pescia (PT), Pistoia (PT), Lucca (LU)
The art of carpenters dates back to 1290. The art of decorum and wooden artefacts with polishing, pictorial ornaments, inlays in metal and semi-precious stones, and applications in gold, bronze and silver are taking place throughout the Tuscan territory. The Florentine guild of carpenters included various types of woodwork: there were builders of chests, chests and trunks, manufacturers of barrels and vats for wine, and finally cabinet-makers, carvers, inlayers, cabinet-makers, chair stools and luthiers. With the spread of the Gothic style in Italy, a more profound sensitivity was defined in the interior furnishings sector of domestic spaces. But it was during the Renaissance that the carving acquired strong artistic and architectural connotations, making Florence become the reference point for all of Europe in woodworking.
To note the importance of the framers and restorers that has remained unchanged over time and still places them among the best creators of artistic frames in the world. Another important category is that of the cabinet-makers, who specialize in working hard and fine woods such as ebony and walnut and olive roots that won the leadership in creating the prestigious furniture reserved for a select few. Florence boasts well-known figures skilled in the art of woodwork such as Donatello, Benedetto da Maioano, Brunelleschi and Ammannati. The workshops of the carpenters were distributed in various areas of the city: via dei Servi, via Tornabuoni (formerly called Via dei Legnaioli) and the surroundings of the church of Santa Trinita and to this day some still defy time.
All this knowledge and all this tradition has been preserved in the Tuscan territory. From San Casciano Val di Pesa to Signa, from Certaldo to Pontassieve, including of course Florence, there are many shops and small family businesses to visit that keep alive the art of carving and that is updated in modern wooden furniture.
Municipalities: Florence (FI), San Casciano Val di Pesa (FI), Certaldo (FI), Pontassieve (FI), Signa (FI).
The whole area of the Apuan Alps is characterized by the presence of immense deposits of the world-famous Carrara marble. The first excavations of marble date back to 155 BC during the Roman period. Subsequently the Carrara quarries supplied material for sculptures and for the decoration of temples and palaces, parish churches and cathedrals, such as the Duomo of Florence, the Baptistery of Pisa, just to name a few. Over the course of two millennia, from its origins to the present, marble production has undergone numerous changes in every phase: from excavation, to transport, to ways of transformation.
Until the 16th century the methods of excavation remained almost unchanged, until in 1570 the pyrical powder was used for the first time which greatly facilitated the detachment of the marble block. In 1895 the helical diamond wire was tested which avoided the crushing of the blocks and reduced the quantity of debris. Today we use cutting-edge processing systems in technological innovation in the world. The importance of marble was so great that at the end of the 18th century the Academy of Fine Arts was born to which were linked artisan workshops run by sculptor families and where works were performed by famous artists and architects, such as Michelangelo, Ammannati, Gianbologna among others.
In Carrara and Pietrasanta there are numerous marble-working workshops of well-known sculptors where you can see how a marble block turns into an elegant and precious piece of art from the hands of a skilled craftsman. The guided tour can be supplemented by a route along the marble quarries to observe the heavy work of its excavation, transportation and sawing at a safe distance.
Municipalities: Carrara, Massa, Pietrasanta
Elenco dei laboratori artistici della città di Carrara con i relativi recapiti possibile di esser visitati.
A.M.A di Andrei Carlo
Via Delle Pinete, 21 – 54036 Marina di Carrara
Tel. +39 0585 634769 Fax +39 0585 634705
Visite su prenotazione
Arte Più snc di Ceccarelli & Gianfranchi
Via Villafranca, 1 – 54031 Avenza
Tel. +39 0585 53758
Cava Scuola di Giorgi Franca
Via Fantiscritti, 1 Miseglia – 54033 Carrara
Tel.+39 0585 54793 cell. 3383739813
Sito internet www.scolpireilmarmo.com
Visite al laboratorio, visite guidate alla cava galleria del Ravaccione, corsi di scultura.
F.lli Gabrielli Snc di M. Gabrielli
Via Delle Pinete, 25 – 54036 Marina di Carrara
Tel. +39 0585 785366
Il Marmo di Lido Vatteroni
Via Carriona, 22 – 54033 CARRARA
Tel. +39 0585 70032
Nicoli & Lyndam Sculptures srl
Piazza XXVII Aprile, 8 – 54033 Carrara
Tel. + 39 0585 70079/0585 74243
Fax 0585 73183
Sito internet www.nicoli-scultures.com
Visite guidate su prenotazione
Stages mensili in ambiente altamente specializzato.
Via llice, 15 – 54031 loc. Nazzano Carrara
Tel.+39 0585 846300
Orario visite .9-12.30/13.30-18
Possibilità di stage
Studio di Scultura Coop. Arco Arte
Via Carriona di Colonnata, 10 – 54033 Carrara
Tel.+39 0585 777000
Corsi di scultura da metà maggio a metà ottobre.
Per il restante periodo su prenotazione.
The Florentine Commesso (Florentine mosaic) is a technique that was born and developed in Tuscany in the 15th century. In fact the Medici family immediately showed a strong interest in ancient precious marbles and ordered the construction of the family mausoleum by adopting this artistic technique (Cappelle dei Principi – Florence). The technique starts with a preparatory drawing and then continues with the choice of hard stones that will be used in the execution of the work – chalcedony, porphyry, jaspers, lapis lazuli, granites or others. The stones are chosen by color and shading according to the subject to be executed and then cut and sawed not geometrically with the help of a wooden bow with a wire, abrasive powders and water. Afterwards the cut prices are juxtaposed with each other in an impeccable finishing and final polishing job. It is a very refined technique that requires a lot of time and patience to execute. The most valuable works realized with this Carthusian technique are found at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence.
A variation of this technique is the Micromosaic, a technique developed in the 18th century. This is the use of thin sheets of spun glass (colored vitreous paste composed of fused silica mixed with metal oxides) put together so as to compose an image. Another technique that requires a high level of mastery.
Finally, the Scagliola technique born in the 16th century is worth noting for the ingenuity of master craftsmen who intended to imitate the marquetry of marble and semi-precious stones that were particularly widespread in Florence. Scagliola is a gypsum obtained from selenite or moonstone, crumbled and reduced to dust. The plaster is combined with water and various colors to proceed with the inlay on stone, marble, wood, wooden frames and mortars which will then be filled with the worked plaster.
Municipalities: Firenze (FI) e Pontassieve (FI)
Florence and Arezzo boast goldsmith traditions that date back to the Renaissance, at the time of the guilds, when the trade that led to the birth of the legendary goldsmith shops famous for their unique workmanship developed. The secret of the Tuscan goldsmith’s success that makes rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants unique is due, in part to the Etruscans from whom the Florentines inherited the granulation technique that allows giving life to a particular decoration on the jewel using small spheres of gold aligned one by one. Great importance also to other procedures, that of the fretwork and Florentine style engraving, devices able to give originality to each creation, making it exclusive and of refined taste. In fact, the classic techniques of filigree, setting, wax casting, embossing, engraving, mold, satin finishing, polishing, all done exclusively by hand, give life to a jewel of gold or silver in a single piece. For those visiting Florence it is essential to go around the Ponte Vecchio where numerous goldsmiths are concentrated. Today it is possible to learn about small workshops where people still work by hand, according to ancient techniques.
Inside the Palazzo Gondi, there is one of the most famous and historic jewelers of Florence, which has kept the tradition since the 1600s – the Torrini jewelery. To admire the refined beauty of the jewels created in Florence, you cannot miss a visit to the Museo degli Argenti inside the Pitti Palace where the treasures of various exponents of the Medici family are kept.
Municipalities: Florence (FI) e Arezzo (AR)
Tuscany boasts a tradition of leather craftsmanship that ranges from footwear to the production of bags, belts and wallets and above all to the successful success of artistic leather suits for desks and leather clothing such as coats, jackets, gloves and others. The production district of high quality tanned leather that was previously concentrated in Florence, today is located in Santa Croce sull’Arno, Ponte a Egola and Scandicci. In the convent of the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence there is a prestigious leather school – “La Scuola del Cuoio” which hands down the art of leather working. In Florence there are valuable tailor-made shoe shops that create unique and custom-made shoes in a traditional way with respect to ancient traditions.
In particular, what makes a leather item unique is the processing method. In Tuscany, the art of tanning took off after 1200. In Florence, two sophisticated techniques were developed, such as tanning and hand plugging. The first method is composed of a preliminary phase, in which the raw animal skin is subjected to salting, purification and drying to prevent micro-organisms from forming on the material. Then the leather is transformed into leather, retanned with tanning agents and finished. The second method, hand buffing, implies in a finishing process that enhances the natural nuances of the leather color, making it precious and preserving all the qualities of the material.
In more recent times, the tanning art sector has seen a boom in evolution, thanks also to the introduction of a series of increasingly sophisticated and practical techniques. The Florentine leather shops characterized by the high quality and timeless touch of the accessories for sale, become a must for all those who visit Florence.
Municipalities: Florence (FI), Santa Croce sull’Arno (PI), Scandicci (FI), Fucecchio (FI)
Mistakenly believe that the perfume was invented in France. In reality it was the Florentine René who at the end of the 18th century developed the first fragrances that were brought to France by Caterina de ‘Medici when she married Henry II. Florence already had the inherited tradition of the Dominican friars who used medicinal herbs in the preparation of medicines, balms and ointments. In fact this knowledge handed down secretly between the monks of one generation and another, gave rise to artisan pharmacies and spezierie that still function in Florence. Without a doubt, a truly enjoyable experience is a visit to the historic perfumeries that still develop personalized perfumes for each client. One of the most important historical perfumeries in Florence is the Perfumery of Santa Maria Novella, next to the church that in its products hands down the secret recipes of the herbalist monks.
Municipalities: Florence (FI)
EMBROIDERY BY HAND AND LINEN
The embroidery was born in antiquity with the Egyptians who used a technique of joining yarns to join leather and vegetable cloths, destined for the pharaohs. Even in ancient China, it was a very flourishing and elaborate activity. It is a tradition with the extension of fashion initially reserved for the upper classes. In the 12th century the art of embroidery spreads throughout Europe. It is Florence that becomes the cultural center of embroidery, thanks to the nuns who provided ecclesiastical vestments for solemn occasions, often showing scenes of life of the saints. It is here that the first classic and filet laces are born. Still today, fine products are hand-embroidered with ancient techniques, without the use of machinery. They are extremely elegant and refined items.
Municipalities: Florence (FI), Anghiari (AR), Sansepolcro (AR)
When you think of high fashion comes to mind names of designers such as Gucci, Ferragamo and Cavalli, Pitti Woman, since Florence has long been the capital of fashion. However, there is a segment not so much in the spotlight as is that of the artisan tailoring, that is the made-to-measure. It is the small details perfectly styled that become an elegant dress for the wearer. Florence and its sartorial tradition is truly wonderful. If you want a tailored suit, elegant and perfect in every sense, Florence is the place where the best tailors are found.
Municipality: Florence (FI)
Another typical product of Tuscan craftsmanship is terracotta, especially that produced in the Valdelsa area, a region rich in clays. Today, terracotta craftsmanship is becoming increasingly important, because in addition to building materials, terracotta also involves the field of home furnishings and ornamental garden objects such as statues and vases. Noteworthy is the terracotta floor covering, present in many farmhouses, villas and historic Tuscan buildings in a state of perfect preservation due to its durability and resistance to climatic changes. Important centers for finding terracotta laboratories are Pienza, Poggibonsi, Impruneta, where artisans have been working for centuries according to the ancient traditions of choosing clay, preparing dough, working and cooking.
During the guided visits to the kiln you can watch how the clay is kneaded and shaped, the techniques that make fine terracotta resistant to bad weather and above all understand how to arrive at an object made with taste and lasting over time.
Municipalities: Pienza, Poggibonsi, Impruneta
Tuscany has a long tradition linked to the art of fabric. In the Middle Ages the processing and trade of fabrics took on great importance in the territory. In fact, half of the population worked in the wool sector, an activity that allowed Florence to acquire substantial wealth. Not only wool but also silk, introduced in Italy around 1100 by a Catholic missionary returning from China, played a fundamental role. Particularly in Florence, the art of silk found the right environment for a flourishing development already in the fourteenth century and reached its peak in the Medici period. In Florence there are laboratories that still carry on this rich tradition, such as the Antico Setificio Fiorentino, whose origin dates back to the mid-eighteenth century, when some of the noble families of Florence decided to create a single laboratory; putting in common the frames, the cartoons and the designs of the fabrics destined to furnishings, to the decoration of the salons and noble family chapels.
It is precisely in Lucca that the Antiche Tessiture Lucchesi is a living testimony of this process which is also present in reality such as Prato, which today boasts the Textile Museum, one of the most important in Europe on the history and development of fabrics from antiquity to the days our. Also noteworthy is the Museum of Wool of Stia with the renowned production of the “Casentino cloth”, a fulled fabric that makes it waterproof and hairy. In fact, the “coarse cloth”, obtained from sheep shearing was appreciated for its high resistance to wear and weather. The curl, which distinguishes the clothes made with Casentino cloth, constitutes a functional double layer of anti-cold and anti-rain, guaranteeing perfect thermal insulation, in addition to body transpiration. Originally, the curl was obtained by rubbing the wool with stone, while today, to produce it, machinery is used. Casano pano has been used for fashion by great designers such as Roberto Cavalli, Pierre Cardin and Gianfranco Ferré.
Municipalities: Florence (FI), Prato (PO), Pratovecchio Stia (AR)
GLASS AND CRYSTAL
The glassworks, the place where the glass is worked, presents an environment with a particular charm. In addition to the heat and noise of the ovens, it is interesting to watch the glass processing process: the glass masters take the incandescent glass paste using long metal canes with which the glass is blown into special molds. From here, using special pliers, scissors and other tools of the trade, they shape the glass paste until it takes on the desired shape.
Glass processing in Tuscany was born in the 13th century and initially developed in the territories of Montaione and Gambassi (FI). Later the art of glass spread in the area of Colle Val d’Elsa in the fourteenth century and then in Empoli around the fifteenth century. Since then, the glass masters and glassmakers have handed down their art to the present day, representing a perfect combination of tradition and modernity. In 1820, when the Alsatian François Mathis gave birth to a modern glassworks, the headquarters that will make Colle di Val d’Elsa, the world capital of crystal, was born. In fact, currently, in Colle Val d’Elsa (AR), 15 percent of the world’s production is concentrated and 95 percent of the national production of crystal items, to the extent that it is called the “City of crystal”. Glass craftsmanship in Empoli is still one of the most important productive activities today. We produce tableware and furniture in white, colored and crystal glass, lighting items, bottles and demijohns in green glass including the traditional flask. Some artisan workshops specialize in engraving and decorating glass objects. At some factories for the artistic processing of glass it is possible to buy vases, glasses, trays, cups, crystals made with white, colored glasses and with the traditional rustic glasses: carafes and glasses green and blue. Those wishing to discover the ancient traditions cannot leave to visit the Glass Museum in Empoli, the Crystal Museum in Colle Val d’Elsa and the Permanent Exhibition of glassmaking in Gambassi Terme.
Municipalities: Colle Val d’Elsa (SI) , Empoli (FI), Gambassi Terme (FI)