When visiting the beautiful Italian city of Florence, you will not regret a visit to Scuola del Cuoio of Santa Croce. Originally a 13th century Franciscan monastery, Scuola del Cuoio of Santa Croce is the largest leather school in Florence, and is situated at Piazza Santa Croce, behind the Basilica di Santa Croce. Inside you can observe the skilled artisans at work as they hand-craft the finest quality leather handbags, apparel, luggage, and home décor items.
Scuola del Cuoio has existed since the end of World War II. It was due to collaboration between the Franciscan friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce, and two Florentine families. Silvano Casini and Marcello Gori had been Florentine leather artisans since the 1930’s, and they welcomed the opportunity to create this school at the monastery. The original purpose was to provide a way that war orphans could learn a craft, and then be able to sustain themselves with a career in leather-making.
It was not until 1950 that the school opened as a place to sell leather products, and the first clients were members of the US military, who were stationed in the Mediterranean on ships, or on land bases in Europe. In the 1950’s General Dwight D Eisenhower, then-President of the United States, had in the Oval Office, one of the leather desk sets hand-crafted and gilded from Scuola del Cuoio.
This school has become so famous that many international dignitaries and celebrities have purchased leather products here. Some of the famous visitors include the Royal families of England, the late Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife, Former US President Ronald Reagan, Former First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Rob Schneider, Steven Spielberg, and Audrey Hepburn.
Scuola del Cuoio does not charge any fees to visit their workshop and tour the beautiful courtyard and grounds. They offer short-term courses, for a fee, and these courses are open to available to visitors, students, or small groups.
There are half-day (3 hours), full-day (6 hrs), and week-long (5 days-30 hours) courses available upon request. You have hands-on training alongside a Master Craftsman, and you complete an item during the class. Prices are based on the number of students participating in each session, and start as low as 87 Euro per person, and the highest price is 520 Euro per person for the week-long course. Prices do not include the additional 20% VAT.
For more information, you can go to their website La Scuola Cuoio Workshops and Courses.