THE SCUOLA DEL CUOIO OF FLORENCEMin. reading
Visit the Scuola del Cuoio of Florence, a hidden treasure inside the cathedral of Santa Croce
In the wonderful framework of the cathedral of Santa Croce, the “Scuola del Cuoio” (School of Leather) of Florence is an enchanting place, surrounded by the silence of the ancient dorm designed by Michelozzo and decorated with frescos by the Ghilandaio school.
A treasure hidden in one of the most beautiful areas of Florence, which was full of artisan workshops even during the Renaissance as it was easier to access the River Arno from there, essential for the workshops.
Water is precisely what linked Santa Croce to leather
We met Benedetta Panelli, school assistant, who walked us through the history and the interesting stories of the Scuola del Cuoio of Florence, where the master and the apprentice work side by side, in an exchange that has always made every product unique.
“The school was created as a social project after the second World War by the monks of the cathedral of Santa Croce, who wished to teach a skill to the orphans of the “Città dei ragazzi” of Pisa, aided also by the Gori and Casini family, artisans of leather ever since the thirties. Marcello Gobbi gave life to the Scuola del Cuoio, which opened its doors to the public in the fifties and nowadays is run by his daughters and his granddaughter.”
Carlo Sieni still works at the school: he was accepted when he was fifteen and he is now 81 and not only he is a master of covering objects with leather but he’s also a teacher of the short courses held by the school itself. We are all impressed by his manual skills, by the dexterity and elegance of his gestures, which, combined with his authentic Tuscan spirit, make him a symbol of the history of this place.
The Scuola del cuoio of Florence aims to pass down the values of the Florentine art manufacturers, preserving traditions of high quality and creative tailor made products, a very important vision in the era of globalized production. Another aspect is the importance of time, essential for the artisanal creative and productive process, because it enhances details and gives uniqueness to a precious object.
The artisan works with his hands, mind and heart
Students of the Scuola del Cuoio come from all over the world and they have access to six month courses. At the end of the course many return to their country to open workshops thanks to the heritage of skills and traditions that they have learned, others remain in Florence and start working at the School. This is the case with Francesco, who decorates golden objects, or of Nicola, who is learning gilding.
Booking a guided tour at the Scuola del Cuoio is, in our opinion, a must-do during your stay in Florence: you can see the masters and their apprentices working, read the stories and find out the interesting news and watch the pictures of all the V.I.P’S (presidents, musicians, popes) who have visited this pearl in the heart of the church of Santa Croce in Florence.
Inside the School you can also buy its creations (bags, diaries, wallets and bracelets) and personalize them on request with decorations.
Thanks for accompanying us Benedetta!