Scuola del Cuoio – known as Leather School of Florence – was created after world war II thanks to the efforts of the Franciscan friars of the Santa Croce Monastery, the Gori and Casini families. These are two famous family names, known for being important florentine leather artisans since 1930’s.
Since the two families and the franciscan friars shared the same vision at that time, the mission was to give an important opportunity to the orphans of the war to learn a practical work to earn a living.
Scuola del Cuoio was born just in the center of Florence, near Santa Croce Church. Since Santa Croce was in a strategic position along the banks of the Arno river, it was easy to get the water needed to work.
The friars made few changes in the Monastery to welcome the school: they converted the dormitory space in order to create an area for the school and the first few workbenches has been placed in the corridor. The Dormitory was a gift from the important florentine Famiglia Medici to The Franciscan friars and this area is still covered by amazing frescoes.
The first students of the Florentine leather school came from the “Città dei Ragazzi” – Boys’ Town of Pisa. They learned the differences between the various kind of leather, the methods to cut leather by hand and how to create a variety of leather items (ranging from handbags and briefcases to small leather goods).
The more gifted and skilled students were taught how to make artistic objects (as desk sets and jewelry cases and the art of gilding leather using 22 carat gold -which was considered by color the most beautiful and precious one.)
Due to the growing demand of fine quality hand-crafted products, in 1950 the school opened its doors to clients all over the world.
From clients all over the world to foreign students the step is really short. Nowadays the school is full of students from every Country.
Scuola del Cuoio follows the old Florentine tradition of placing the master craftsman and the apprentice side-by-side during the activities. The sudents and the master craftsmen work in the workshops using the traditional hand-made tools. Because of the increasing demand of foreign students and thanks to the cooperation with CLIDA, Language and Culture courses are provided to give the students a deeper experience of Italian heritage.
Even if leather gilding is a typical Florentine leather technique it’s always hard to find Italian students at Scuola del Cuoio. It’s really tragic to see that our Italian craftsmanship and our Made in Italy – which is our DNA – are getting out of our hands. We are leader in this sector but it seems that just foreign students realize how precious our work is. We could just hope in the next generation to re-discover our italian soul and to fall in love with our amazing craftmanship.
“Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind.”