With the Tour of the Artisans of Florence we will visit several artisanal workshops, discovering the real character of the city through its expert craftsmen. They have been passing on their knowledge from generation to generation. The Corporazioni di Arti e Mestieri (Craft Guilds) supported the extraordinary economic, artistic and political development that Florence has experienced since the XIII century. Thy were active financiers of many works of art, often in competition with the ecclesiastical world. They contributed intensely to the artistic and cultural development known as Renaissance and Humanism. In an age where there was no clear distinction between artists and artisans, the craftsmen’s workshops of Florence (botteghe) became real art schools.
The Tour of the Artisans of Florence consists of a more historical part, where we visit the church and museum of Orsanmichele, ancient place of worship under the tutelage and sponsorship of the Florentine guilds in Medieval time, and a stop at different craftsmen’s workshops, such as goldsmiths, wood carvers, weavers, bronze-workers, paper makers, etc., to see them at work! I suggest making the tour on Monday afternoon so we can also visit the Orsanmichele museum (open only Mondays afternoons), on the second floor of the church, where the original statues of the protector saints of the guilds are housed.
There’s something magic in seeing Luca hammering the silver rings one by one to weld them in a magnificent necklace. He’s proud to remark the the Etruscans were the first inhabitants of Tuscany, centuries before the Romans. This is the pride of the Florentine to talk, not only of the goldsmith! They were the first ones to use this system to make their jewels and it never changed. Giuliano has been working in the same workshop for over 50 years. He has made thousand of brass fusions to create picture frames, napkin holders, Christmas ornaments. He still uses the lost wax technique, like in the Renaissance. Time stops when you visit Simone at his little leather laboratory. He’s making a jewel case for an American client. He needs between 32 and 40 steps to make every little box and almost one month to make a piece, depending on its size. These masters, with their humanity and humility, remind me always the value of time and passion, that we take many time for granted today.