My new guides to Florence are hitting the shelves two weeks from today! I’m so excited to share this pair of books with you!
Excerpt from Laura Morelli’s Authentic Arts: Florence
If you hold even a passing interest in art history, it’s hard not to fall in love with Florence. In this birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, beauty, order, and a classical aesthetic breathe life into every street, every square, every building, and every bridge. Florence’s native sons—Botticelli, Brunelleschi, da Vinci, Donatello, Giotto, Michelangelo, and many others—still inform the way that the Western world views painting, sculpture, and architecture. Their legacy marks Florentine culture as a timeless benchmark of beauty and technical excellence.
As I pursued my own studies in art history, I couldn’t wait to travel to Florence to witness those famous masterpieces firsthand. When I arrived, however, I discovered that living artists were practicing centuries-old Florentine traditions in workshops and studios across the city. I found masters of leather etching gilded scrolls into belts and bags; women weaving silk on three-century-old looms; fifth-generation bookbinders punching letters into the spines of ancient texts; goldsmiths using their great-grandparents’ tools; even a master carrying on a three-hundred-year-old tradition of making powdered wigs. I realized that these unsung heroes quietly carried on a legacy unbroken from the time of medieval guilds. I couldn’t believe that while so many visitors knew about Michelangelo and da Vinci, so few knew about these living traditions and their makers.
It became my mission to lead travelers beyond the tourist traps, helping them discover authentic traditions and their makers, and come home with great treasures in their suitcases. My focus is cultural immersion through a greater appreciation of artistic traditions and the people who still practice them. It’s impossible not to want to take a little piece of Florence home with you. In our world of mass production, many of us yearn for unique, culturally authentic, and immersive experiences. I can think of no better way to appreciate Florentine culture than by experiencing the stories, the people, and the beautiful objects behind the timeless traditions of this captivating city of art.