If you’re looking for unique and high-quality products to peruse while here, the city’s craftsmen are the place to start. From shoemakers to handcrafted jewelry, here are the best areas for winding through the world of Florence’s talented craftsmen:
Above the river
From museums to modern workshops, many of the artisanal crafts above the river are the same you’ll find in Florence’s famed museums.
If you’re looking for a fusion of history and sound, head to Jamie Lazzara
’s violinmaking shop
(via dei Leoni 4r
). This master violinmaker
and stringed instrument restorer is known for her spectacular handmade violins
, instruments not so unlike the Accademia’s timeless wonders. To this end, in 1993 Itzhak Perlman ordered a violin built using the Stradivari “Soli” as a model (1714); the Lazzara copy was played during former President Obama’s inaugural concert in 2009.
For book lovers
wandering above the river, don’t miss
a visit to Abacus
(via de’ Macci 50
), a bookbinding laboratory
that uses all-natural products
to make its paper goodies. Vegetable glue, old-fashioned dyed leather and hand-folded sheets make this shop a true Florentine gem
, a workshop that captures the authentic charm
that its products exude. Here, you might even be inspired to take home a hand-bound diary as a keepsake of Florence’s artisanal side.
Another particularly special workshop belongs to master goldsmith Paolo Penko, a true artist of a jeweler who creates one-of-a-kind works produced according to centuries-old traditions of Florentine goldsmithing. Penko is also known for his ormolu reproductions of the fiorino, the former coin of Florence, which make wonderful gifts and signs of good things to come when celebrating a Baptism or other important moments. The workshop is located just a few steps from the Duomo (via F. Zannetti 14/16r).
In the Oltrarno
and other Oltrarno neighborhoods
are surely Florence’s most hip
and bustling zones
On your way there, cross Ponte Vecchio
for some sparkling eye candy: Cassetti
’s jewelry and watch display
. Founded in 1926 by Renzo Cassetti, this master silversmith shop has serviced clients as prestigious as the Vatican. After joining her father’s shop, Maria Grazia transformed the family business into an international silver enterprise. Now in its third generation, Cassetti offers handmade products ranging from jewelry to table art and home décor, all embossed, chased and decorated using age-old techniques.
Meander further across the bridge
to see Mannina
(via de Guidcciardini, 16
), one of Florence’s most beautiful shoe shops
. Founded in 1953 by Master Calogero Mannina, this gem features handmade shoes of an unmistakable, traditional style, as originality and quality are the shop’s top priorities.
The warm mahogany interior and lavish display beckon you to explore the shop’s exquisite selection of shoes.
Also not to miss
is the beautiful Argentiere Pagliai
(Borgo S. Jacopo, 41/R
), where Paolo Pagliai
(now third generation) carries on his family-owned silversmith
business. In this silver-engraving workshop, the silversmith and restorer creates one-of-a-kind pieces in a space that mirrors his old-world charm.
The shop is a reference point for antiquarians and collectors all over Italy, as the craftsman’s undeniable talent in metalworking and restoration makes him one of the best of his kind.
Our tours to discover Oltrarno Artisans: