The history of leather production in Florence
In medieval Florence at the height of the renaissance, the city enjoyed much economic power and had a system of ‘Arti’ (guilds) that functioned as unions for different arts and trades. They would organise and supervise every aspect on the city’s economic life, including blacksmiths, weavers, labourers, and boatmen. In 1282, the Arte dei Cuoiai e Galigai (leather-workers guild) was created to protect trade secrets and ensure quality control. It included workers involved in all steps in processing the hides, including retailers and curriers, who would apply techniques of dressing finishing and colouring to a tanned hide to reinforce it and make it durable and waterproof.
While you can no longer find any more tanneries in the city, the city’s leather shops and markets, such as the district of San Lorenzo, offer soft and supple leather products resulting from centuries of exemplary tanning techniques and skill. The personalising and styling of the leather production in Florence can also be seen in established brands such as Gucci and Barone Firenze, who have upheld a unique and authentic leather craftsmanship for over a century.
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