The Florentine Craftsmen
My goal in this journey is to focus on some manufactures attesting the peculiarities of the territory, although some of them, such as museums, are still alive in the heart of the city of Florence for divulgation reasons or even for educational purposes.
A valid first path would be the Museo degli Argenti (The Silverware Museum), ending early in the morning with a visit to the Florentine goldsmith workshop showing tourists what a laboratory looks like and how jewelry are produced.
The craftsmanship in Florence, in our goldsmith context, was born as early as the Renaissance period with the shops on the Ponte Vecchio. The workshop, that is the artisan laboratory, is the place where the tools of the past, with the craft handed down through the centuries and with everyday experience, has made it possible to continue the renewal of the originality of the products. Following the bombing of the Second World War, the workshops moved from Ponte Vecchio in the historic buildings, assigning environments to laboratories, like it happened in the former convent of the Chiesa di Santo Stefano al Ponte (Church of Saint Stephen at the Bridge) which became the Casa dell'Orafo (House of the Goldsmith).
The decline of the artisan production occurred when the new tourism made of large groups of people led to a high demand for cheap souvenirs, industrial products of poor quality.
In the Silverware Museum there are various jewelry testimonies starting from the collections of objects that once belonged to the Grand Duke of Tuscany to the treasures of the princes - the bishops of Salzburg and Wurzburg, arrived here after the Unification of Italy, continuing with the precious objects of Anna Maria Luisa de 'Medici (saved from the dispersion of the crown jewels and arrived from Vienna in 1923 after the Treaty of Saint – Germain), until the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century.
The tour continues in the afternoon with a visit to the Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Museum of Precious Stones) that has experienced a long history of more than four centuries, begun in 1588, when Ferdinand I de 'Medici founded a factory designed to last for ages. The Medici passed down the manufacturing of precious stones like a hereditary gene, with their passion for sparkling multicolored stones, and then worked to make the solemn Court Manufacture known and admired throughout Europe. Outstanding among these is the "Florentine mosaic”, an ingenious puzzle in which the overall image is actually created by the combination of many sections of stones, shaped according to articulated profiles cut with extreme precision in order to enable the combination of different elements in a perfect way.
Finally, the tour ends with the Cappella de' Medici, focusing mostly on the Chapel of the Princes. Ferdinando I de 'Medici, with his ambitious project of wanting to create a mausoleum for the family, founded the above-mentioned Manufacture and built a superb funerary monument for the Medici dynasty, adjacent to the Basilica di San Lorenzo (Basilica of Saint Lawrence), fully lined with semi-precious stones that would go up from the floor to the great dome, second only to that of Brunelleschi.
Optional tour in different day upon request in the Opificio Delle Pietre Dure restauration laboratory with the price: 300 euro (with the same price can be more than one person until 20 people).