Highlights of this tour

  •  Visit to one of the most traditional leather workshops
  •  Visit to an inspired and unique perfumes’ atelier
  •  Visit to the most alchemic Florentine master goldsmith
  •  Stroll in quiet central streets full of surprises

FLORENCE CRAFTS: TRADITION & SPIRITUALITY

Our ‘Florence Crafts’ tour will bring you into another dimension, just steps away from the hectic main streets with their globalized stores and trivial street food, in a rarified world where people consider their work not just a way to earn money, but as a way to expand their soul and to perpetuate a unique tradition.

At Viviani, one of the rare family run leather workshops still resisting in the center of Florence, they work exclusively with first quality full grain Tuscan leather (proceeding from the tanneries at Santa Croce sull’Arno), designing, cutting, splitting, skiving and sewing with the use of few simple traditional machines.

‘Tradition’ is the key word here: the lab opened in 1965, a year before the terrible flood of November 4th, 1966. The founder, Renato Viviani, an apprentice of mythical Guccio Gucci in the atelier of Via del Parione. We are in the 1920s. In the 40s Renato moved to Argentina with his father, but they came back in the 60s.

Renato Viviani and his wife Dalia opened the shop at the ground floor of an elegant Palazzo of Via Guelfa, where the activity continues today. Renato’s daughter, Viviana, her husband Francesco, and their son Leonardo, will warmly welcome us surrounded by all their tools, designs, models and colorful creations.

The shop has an open view laboratory too, and we’ll be able to see them at work. Nothing much technological, every piece is rigorously handmade. Handbags, wallets, belts…the style is elegant, practical, sober (see the pictures in our gallery). The huge variety of different shades is the pride of this company.

Our Florence Crafts discovery will stroll quiet backstreets, dotted with intriguing antique shops and boutique hotels, to reach Santa Croce district, where, few steps away from the celebrated Piazza, almost invisible from the hectic alleyway, we enter the ancient portal of Aquaflor, a veritable wonderland for perfume addicts.

Aquaflor is much more that a perfumery. Sileno Cheloni, founder and inspiring guru, defines himself an ‘atypical perfumer’, as, rather that working closed inside a lab and selling his art to big companies for world distribution, he likes to share his deep passion for perfumes and much prefers to keep his business small.

Sileno blends what he calls the ‘perfumery of the soul’, originating in the Middle East, with the ‘cosmetic’ one, with French roots. He had an illumination when in Cyprus he met a Sufi perfumer, who thought him that perfumes are: ‘a melody for the soul, but also a medicine for the body’. That is: a perfumer is also a doctor!

If you like the idea, it is also possible to come here and, after a ‘spiritual conversation’ with the ‘guru’, you can participate to the making of your own personal perfume! There are 1,500 different ingredients available! Some aromas, like grey amber, or musk, or civet, are rooted in history and enshrine many evocative stories.

If you don’t feel like investing in a personal perfume you can of course splurge into an ‘exhilarating’ range of perfumes (one of the most famous is ‘Duende’), perfumed waters, soaps, balms, bath salts…or you can simply relax feeling cocooned by the ambiance, with its suffused lights, antique furniture and fairy-tale atmosphere.

It is time to break the spell and ‘Florence Crafts’ moves on across Ponte delle Grazie, that will lead us to silent and charming Via San Niccolo’, no tourists here, where we’ll be lured by the bizarre interiors of Alessandro Dari’s museum-atelier. I remember my first time here: my friend told me she was bringing me into

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the alchemist’s workshop!

Alessandro Dari, who defines himself a sculptor and a goldsmith (but don’t forget he is also an active pharmacist and a musician) has deep roots in the Florentine tradition of sculptors that started their artistic career working with precious metals: Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Verrocchio, Botticelli, Cellini.

His famous rings are frequently extremely detailed and exquisitely finished architectures: you’ll find the series of ‘Castles’, ‘Churches’, ‘Crowns’, ‘Magic’ and more. Dari, some of his works are exhibited at the nearby ‘Silver Museum’ at Palazzo Pitti, organizes his creations in different collections, which are not all for sale.

Alessandro feels that his works are an extension of his spirit, he doesn’t feel like parting from them. Also, some of his works are being combined with others and being constantly re-worked through the years (Michelangelo teaches). The techniques are those of tradition, but the creations are spectacularly innovative.

You’ll enjoy the ‘Jewels-Machines’, that give the whole atelier a fantastic aura of mysticism and learn about Alessandro’s Perceptive Dynamism Movement. On request, you can stay longer after our ‘Florence Crafts’ is over to learn the basics of goldsmith techniques and you’ll be able to make your own ring out of a wax model!

Cost of this tour

  • This tour lasts approximately 3 hours and costs: 240 euro up to 6 people
  • If you wish to make your own perfume or your own ring please contact us!
  • Only private parties.
  • For larger parties: please send us an email!

Dress Code and advice

  • No dress code! 
  • Please wear comfortable shoes and a hat in summer