Artigianato e Palazzo (A&P) is an oasis.
Disembark from your "Frecciarossa" train at the Florence, Santa Maria Novella Station. Drop your bags at the hotel and make your way to Via della Scala, 115. Cross through the wrought iron gate below the crest of the Corsini family, and you've arrived. What awaits you is a pleasant mix of Florentine elegance, artisanal mastery and bucolic perfection - as if it were air-dropped in the historic center of Florence. Just for one weekend, every year.
For the past twenty-two years, Neri Torrigiani (left), who conceived A&P, Princess Giorgiana Corsini (right), who opens her family's historic villa to host the event, and their team have combed through Italy's 20 Regions and countless cities to seek out the best Italian talents in artisanship.
The selected artisans convene at the Giardini Corsini, the Corsini family's 17-century garden (a rare surviving example of a truly Italian-style Renaissance garden) and transform the space into an extension of their workshop. Garden-houses are emptied, tents pitched, and artisans set up work stations to practice their craft for the thousands (10,000 this year!!!) of people that visit from all over the world. This is why A&P is so special.
It's not a fair; it's an exhibit. More still, it is an exhibit not of objects, but of artisans. By transforming the Giardini Corsini into an outdoor workshop, the most precious aspect of the artisanal process is emphasized: human interaction. Guests are encouraged to ask questions and delve beyond the final product to learn about who made it and where... To learn how they made it and why.
I created L'Arte Nascosta to discover what I call the "Italian Dream," a world where expert artisans consult with their patrons to produce works of excellence, comparabile to museum pieces. I am glad to say that, thanks to A&P, I, along with thousands of others, had the opportunity to live this dream.
I met countless craftsman of all ages.... Some with college degrees in astronomy and philosophy, others who began studying their craft from an early age. Their differences only enrich this community of talents and distinguish each of their products in a different way.
Their raw materials might vary, as do their techniques, but the common denominator is passion. Artisans invariably share a passion for making something from what was once nothing. They research their craft, compare techniques with their colleagues and innovate ancient methods. They address their clients' needs and offer customized solutions to solve unique problems.
This is true luxury, and it begins with communication.
Thank you to Artigianato e Palazzo for reminding us all that the final product represents only a small part of the artisanal process. The real value of artisanship is the people behind it and, most of all, the human interaction that these people encourage.
Exit Giardini Corsini through the same gate you entered. Soon the make-shift workshops will be dismantled, the several-thousand guests will return home, as will the artisans. Make your way down Via della Scala's narrow sidewalk where the outside world certainly runs at a faster pace than you found inside the garden walls.
You now know that all throughout Italy, there are countless artisans, young and old, that work tirelessly to preserve ancient crafts; they do it in harmony with their environment and in partnership with their patrons. The result is nothing short of inspiring.
You may read about Artigianato e Palazzo Day 1 - HERE
You may read about Artigianato e Palazzo Day 2 - HERE
Thank you, Artigianato e Palazzo, for the opportunity to collaborate!
See you next year!!