The Master Artisans in the heart of Florence
The first itinerary of the European Artistic Crafts Days, the event organized around Europe and celebrating the Artistic and Artisanal Crafts on March 31, April 1 and 2, is devoted to the Master Artisans who operate in the heart of Florence.
We start in the Oltrarno, the historic neighborhood, full of artisan’s bottegas and follow the streets of the left bank of Florence.
The first stop is on Borgo San Iacopo where we find the ARGENTIERE PAGLIAI, a bottega that, to these days, keeps its old-world charm. Crossing the threshold of this shop, one really does feel entering a “Renaissance studio” where Maestro Paolo Pagliai oversees and works with his disciple-workmen, demanding perfection from each task, using ancient techniques of metalworking and restoration which maintains the integrity and individuality of the most precious of objects.
We continue through the wonderful narrow streets of the Oltrarno and we arrive in via de’ Serragli at the bottega of BANCHI DUCCIO BRONZISTA. The history of this workshop of bronze-caster Duccio Banchi is a true example of how the transmission of the artisanal craft works. Today the firm is lead with passion by Duccio, Lamberto’s son, bronze caster artisan, specializing in making small furnishing and decorative objects created with personalized craftsmanship.
We cross the Arno and we get to Borgo S.S. Apostoli, where at n. 20 red we find a true jewel of the Florentine handicraft, the workshop of TOMMASO PESTELLI, the latest heir of a family of goldsmith-jewelers which has been active in Florence since 1908. His professional training took place in the family workshop where he studied in depth the Florentine jewelry tradition and was able to then evolve his own personal style, an expression of tradition in the expert choice of the materials and their workmanship, and also of a formal research in the study of the concept of the object itself. Tommaso Pestelli now creates the most surprising furnishing accessories, made of gold, silver and precious stones; these are works that are absolutely unique, inspired by the taste and the atmosphere of the past and superbly suited to an exclusive, modern Wunderkammer. In his workshop he creates sophisticated jewels, and also performs restoration for the Fine Art Commission.
We continue our walk making a stop in the wonderful Piazza del Duomo, then go on to get to Via Ricasoli. Here we enter the SCARPELLI MOSAICI workshop and discover one of the most fascinating handicraft techniques, the Florentine “commesso.”
In this artisan’s bottega in the heart of Florence is carried on the tradition of the semi-precious stone mosaic that started in the Renaissance. An art gallery with works that are entirely made by the hands of masters Renzo and Leonardo Scarpelli.
We continue on via Ferdinando Zannetti to get to PENKO GOLDSMITHING ARTISANAL BOTTEGA. Master Goldsmith Paolo Penko in his bottega in the heart of Florence, just steps from the Duomo, together with his wife Beatrice, an expert gemologist, and his son Alessandro, creates unique jewels, completely hand made, following the ancient techniques of the Florentine goldsmithing tradition. Unique and recognizable, Penko’s style succeeds in harmoniously combining the beauty and quality of the raw materials with the charm of the references to shapes and symbols of the Florentine painting and architecture.
We start once more to arrive in via San Egidio. Here we find SBIGOLI TERRECOTTE. This ancient Florentine shop was founded in 1857 and it mainly offered plaster and terracotta items for the garden. Valentino Adami and his wife Antonella Chini Adami bought this business after the flood of 1966. Antonella, descendent of a famous family of ceramists, is the daughter of Tito Chini. Since a very young age she attended ceramics courses in Faenza. In 1970 she started production directly in the workshop within the shop. Her décor draw inspiration above all from ancient Tuscan models. Her daughter Lorenza, who together with her mother, initiated a production of dinnerware and furnishing objects, started her career at the turning wheel and doing decorations.
We continue our walk to get to via Giuseppe Verdi, at n. 9, at the bottega of FILISTRUCCHI, a journey within a journey, entering a world made of imagination, emotion, creativity and art. The birth of the Filistrucchi firm, the the most ancient bottega in Florence, has been passed down from father to son since 1720. They manufacture wigs, beards, mustaches, hairpieces and other accessories, all made of natural hair. Masks and prosthetics in foam latex, silicone and papier-mâché, for theatre, film, television, and all sectors of the entertainment and fashion.
We end our first itinerary on via San Zanobi at the
MICROFFICINA DI FEDERICO VIANELLO, a small studio/gallery in the historic center of Florence that since 1982 has been producing and selling contemporary and innovative jewelry. The materials used together with gold and silver are not only the ones traditionally used in jewelers, but also iron, plastic, wood and all that gets the creativity of the artist going. One of a kind pieces or small collections, all created using ancient techniques, modern technologies and above all passion and careful experimentation.