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Silk Tradition in Florence

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Silk: A tradition in Florence that takes almost eight centuries

The origin or Arts and Crafts in Florence

The “Guilds of the Arts and crafts” were associations created since 12th century to regulate and protect the activities of the workers belonging to the same category.


In 1182 the Art called "Calimala", whose mysterious name perhaps comes from the words "calle Maya" (Maya street), is the first documented and, at the end of the thirteenth century, Florence was the cradle where 21 guilds in total had birth, each one aspiring to have as much political weight as possible. They wanted to become part of the government.

These are the reasons at the origin of the Priors of the Arts in 1282. Many great figures in the history of Florence were Priors, including Dante Alighieri. Many artists were enrolled in the Arts in order to practice the profession and take full political rights, including Brunelleschi and Donatello.

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The major arts were seven: Calimala, dedicated to the trade of fabrics, then the Art of the manufacture of silk, Wool (whose symbol is in fact is the Agnus Dei), the Doctors, Judges, Bankers, Furriers.

To get to know the symbols of the Arts and the patron saints of each guild, there is nothing more beautiful than organizing a visit with us to a museum, open every day in the center of Florence: the Orsanmichele. Admission is free! Inside you can admire some spectacular works in Gothic style, but the most interesting part is outside: on four walls the Orsanmichele host, inside Gothic niches, bronze and marble statues of Arts’ protectors.

Each with its own story, each owns its typical attributes, such as St. Peter as usual with the keys, the evangelists each with an animal.

Each work was created by a renowned city artist, such as Giambologna himself, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Nanni di Banco, and many others.

In addition, one day of the week the upper floor is also open to the public. The upper floor is actually another museum, where the original marble and bronze castings recently restored are preserved from the external atmosphere.

But do you really know all the amazing secrets of these statues?

Do you know which one was not completed in a hurry?

Do you know which one was scarred by religious conflict?

Do you know where the four seasons are represented?

The secrets are innumerable and both inside and outside every corner of this building hides some anecdote. If you are curious to know more, do not miss our Walking Tour because a part of the visit within this tour is actually dedicated to Orsanmichele.


The present day

Not everyone knows that nowadays the manufacture of silk, today in Europe a luxury reserved mainly for noble and wealthy people, is still in fact a much sought after asset that supports an entire artisan economy. It is also open to the public for an unforgettable visit!


For years the LISIO ha transmitido el antiguo arte de hacer tejidos con seda en Florencia, confiando en personal experto con training continuo. La maquinaria son las tradicionales. Estamos hablando de telares que en algunos casos tienen más de 100 años y que todavía son totalmente funcionales hoy en día. Todo construido en madera con fabricación local.


Guided tours can be made upon reservation. Enjoy your visit!

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