The term artisan, or “artigiano” in Italian, implies skilled workers plying their trade by hand. “Master” artisans was used to refer to those who own their own business.
Even by Medieval times, artisans and particularly the Masters held a high status in society. Artisan trades were so well established that these skilled workers began forming guilds that held strong until the mid-1700s.
Many typically Italian products are still created by hand to this day, mostly in the traditional ways, with techniques and tools often passed down through the generations and learnt from childhood, hanging around the workshops of fathers and grandfathers.
Besides making great things to buy when travelling in Italy, artisans are like a window to the past of Italy’s great art and crafts history.
Each region and even each town in Italy has their own specialty artisan wares.
Take for example Florence. Birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence’s strength and wealth was fortified by its artisans and guilds both locally and in the Tuscan surrounds. Typical artisan items from Florence include gold and silver items (including stunning traditional jewellery designs), fabrics and fashions, leather goods, ceramics and handmade picture frames – not to mention all the arts that saw Florence become home to most of the biggest names in the Renaissance.
Of the foodie variety, Florence and Tuscany boast a bevy of all that’s buono - cheeses, cured meats, breads, wines and of course, gelato.
In Venice, there are the world-famous glass blowers from Murano Island. So precious was their skill, that at one point in history these Venetian artisans were forbidden to leave the island for fear that their trade secrets would leave the shores. Eventually they were allowed off Murano Island and became local celebrities of the time. Venice also boasts artisan mask makers, lace weavers of Burano Island, marble paper makers and book binders, plus the skilled gondola creators.
Sorrento is known for its ceramics and hand-carved inlaid wood items, as well as Limoncello liqueur made from the plump Sorrento lemons. Sicily is famed for marionettes, Naples for nativity scene figurines. Orvieto in the Umbria region has an artisan tradition dating back to the Etruscan times for their ceramics, clothing, jewels and forged statues.
Individual instruction ensures this workshop suitable for all ages and skill levels - from complete novices to more experienced artists wanting to gain insight into Florence’s art scene and to meet local artists.
Whether you wish to bike ride through the Tuscan hills, treat your family to the art cities, experience Italy's rich gourmet and wine heritage, explore your artistic side, or have a romantic honeymoon vacation, we can arrange it all.