Metal craftsmen2021-05-08T08:57:11+00:00

Metal craftsmen

One of the most famous monuments of Florence is “Ponte Vecchio” with its characteristic goldsmiths. Crossing the Arno, passers-by are attracted by the glitter of the jewels and it is difficult not to stop in front of a shop window to admire the refinement of the necklaces, rings and bracelets.

For more than four centuries, Ponte Vecchio has housed goldsmiths, we could hardly imagine the time when the only owners of the bridge were butchers, shoemakers and other sellers of different kinds.

It was the Grand Duke Ferdinand I who radically changed the appearance of the bridge, issuing on 25 September 1593, the order to use all the rooms exclusively for goldsmiths. Ironically, it could be said that the Grand Duke certainly had a very acute sense of smell and, when he passed from Palazzo Pitti to Palazzo Vecchio via the so-called Vasari Corridor, he could not stand the smells of the shops.

in reality the Grand Duke certainly wanted to embellish this”a place very popular with gentlemen and foreigners” to give a more beautiful and more sumptuous image of the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. But not only the Florentine jewels were hidden on the bridge. In fact, the goldsmiths’ workshops were very widespread, thanks also to the growing demand for precious works.

Not only jewels were created but also pottery and sacred furnishings for the numerous churches of Florence.

In 1322 the goldsmiths joined the guild which was part of the powerful Silk Art.

The coat of arms of the Silk Art (the small red door on a white background) can still be seen today on some buildings in the area of ​​Via Por Santa Maria.

The patron saint of the guild was precisely Saint Eligius, a French goldsmith and bishop of the seventh century. Many Florentine artists began their careers in the goldsmith shops. In fact, the meticulousness and precision that this profession required were indispensable for the manual processing of the same metals.

Furthermore, there was no clear distinction between goldsmiths, painters, architects or sculptors, so many artists accepted commissions in all areas. Thus we find in the lists of members of the goldsmiths guild the young Filippo Brunelleschi, future creator of the dome of the Duomo, and his greatest competitor Lorenzo Ghiberti, author of the two doors of the Baptistery.

A brilliant and much appreciated goldsmith was also Andrea del Verrocchio, the first master of Leonardo da Vinci.

The magic of the glint of precious metals over the centuries has driven thousands of people mad, ruined lives and caused wars. But the same magic gave birth to a profession that seems to be able to withstand all the changes of our age.

You know that “Everything is smoke and wind, except gold and silver”

Go to Top