In Florence, there are works that you will not find on display in the galleries of the city's prestigious museums. These works are less eye-catching and less celebrated. But they are equal in terms of wisdom and sophistication, the fruits of passion, skill, research, innovation and tradition. The result of something created away from the spotlight. Works that are replicated even though each one is unique.
Handicraft has made Florence famous throughout the world, a calling card to rival its artistic heritage. Gold, leather, glass, ceramics, silk, perfumes, tailoring, embroidery, shoe-making and much more. Jewellery that takes shape in Florence's artisan workshops - in the Oltrarno, in the districts of Santo Spirito, San Niccolò and San Frediano, or near Ponte Vecchio and Santa Maria Novella - and eventually wins over discerning customers who care about detail and quality materials.
An artisan world that lives hidden inside the city's workshops, the beating heart of Florentine manufacturing. The director Cinzia TH Torrini told the story of this world masterfully in her documentary "Florence, world capital of arts and crafts", a film that takes us into a world where people preserve priceless human capital by handing it down through the generations. According to the artisans, the Renaissance began in the workshops: at the time, these were open spaces where workers could mingle to find work and learn new skills.
Today, an artisan culture centre is the new enterprise by Officina Creativa, housed in the Old Convent in Oltrarno: a place where handicrafts are welcomed, taught and promoted; a portal dedicated to Florentine artisan production was recently created: www.firenzecreativa.it
And it is this vocation for handicrafts which has led to the creation of important events dedicated to the industry. Major exhibitions and trade fairs are held annually in prestigious locations, with the aim of bringing our concept of the artisan up-to-date and promoting Tuscan craftsmanship in Italy and worldwide. Meanwhile, smaller markets or fierucole take place weekly and monthly in the city's historic districts. Handicrafts will always have their place in Florence.
Autentica Firenze is a website giving to Florentine citizens and tourists the opportunity to experience the city and the handicraft tradition in local workshops. You can buy on line six different packages, including a visit to an artisan workshop and the chance to create your own handmade craft.
Via Giano della Bella, 20, 50124 Firenze FI, Italia