The beauty of Florence is that you can actually get lost among the tiny streets, discovering impeccable beauties that, most of the times, have experienced hundreds of years, like the workshop of Alessandro Dari. Just a little bit out of the center, once I was walking on Via San Niccolò, near Piazzale Michelangelo, I discovered a small workshop inside a wonderful palace of the XV century. Admiring magnificent building original from the Renaissance, this hidden laboratory kept my attention.
Alessandro Dari is a Florentine master of the art of gold-smithing as well as being a sculptor and a pharmacist. He made his first creation, a beautiful ring, when he was sixteen years old, just to prove his great skills also when he was very young. In his shop-museum, in the Nasi-Quaratesi palace, you can admire his collections of gold-smithing and appreciate the uniqueness of the jewels.
His work is based on an on-going spiritual quest of his personal experience that nourishes and stimulates the creation of his works. Since the Eighties, Dari has produced 900 pieces divided into collections that are inspired by Gothic, Castles, Music, Alchemy and Sacred Art. He was the first to combine anatomy and architecture in the world of contemporary jewellery. His works are on display at the Silver Museum in Florence. In 2003, he won the Perseo award for Best Artist of the town and, in 2006, he was mentioned as artist chosen by the Vatican. The Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage awarded his lab in 2001 as a ‘Museum Workshop’. Last year, he began to run sculptural jewelry courses.
Don’t think he creates “just” jewels!
His creations range from little earrings to magnificent sculptures that doesn’t need to be worn necessarily.
This example of craftsmanship shows how this limitless field is,
always experimenting something new,
being updated, though its roots are so far away in the past.
The area of Santa Croce is historically renowned for its leather making and Scuola del Cuoio is the real prof. Ancient tanneries used to line the streets on Via dei Conciatori and Corso dei Tintori. Florence prides itself on tradition and for those wishing to learn about leather making, or if just after a quality handbag, Scuola Del Cuoio is the ideal place to visit.
One weekend I decided to visit the beautiful church of Santa Croce, with a very unique artistic style, gathering a great number of tombs of the most renowned and famous personalities of the past.
Moving inside the main building,
I was drawn immediately into this magical
world with an extraordinary history.
Created 64 years ago by Marcello Gori, Scuola Del Cuoio is still a family affair. Sisters Laura, Francesca and Barbara Gori all play a vital part in continuing the ethos of the school developed by their father. The Gori family have been Florentine leather makers for almost 100 years beginning with a store on via del Corso in 1932. In 1950, Mr Gori with his cousin Silvano Casini were invited by the Franciscan Friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce to teach a practical skill to orphans affected by World War II. Housed in what was once the home of trainee monks, the current workshop and showroom stand under wonderful 15th century arched ceilings complete with Renaissance frescos and the Medici coat of arms.
Today the school is still full of students, most travelling from all over the world to train under the Gori family’s guidance learning classic Florentine leather making skills. Everything you see is made by hand using traditional methods and original designs.
The smell of the leather is preciously
authentic among the shop.
Handbags are central to the collection. Laura designs the classic style while Francesca makes one-of a-kind hand stitched bejewel bags. You can also create your own bespoke bag by working with Francesca on your creative idea. The store also sells tailored jackets, leather-bound notebooks and purses.