THIS IS THE STORY OF A LITTLE BIG DREAM, OF BIG LITTLE AMBITIONS, OF HUMAN AND CIVIL VALUES, OF HUMBLENESS AND COMMITMENT, BUT MOST OF ALL IT’S THE STORY OF A FAMILY AND OF MANY FRIENDSHIPS BORN AND DEVELOPED UNDER THE VAULTS OF THESE CORRIDORS... WELCOME TO SCUOLA DEL CUOIO!

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Scuola del Cuoio was created after World War II through the collaborative efforts of the Franciscan friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce and the Gori and Casini families, Florentine leather artisans since the 1930’s. Their mission was to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade with which to earn a living.
Santa Croce, with its strategic position along the banks of the Arno river, since the 13th century had been historically the district where the industries that required great quantities of water were concentrated. The tanners of via delle Conce and via dei Conciatori, just a few steps  from  the garden entrance of the Monastery and Scuola del Cuoio, were an important part of the Santa Croce neighborhood with the dyers of Corso dei Tintori and even the soap makers of via dei Saponai. The tanned hides were used for centuries for the leather manufacturing of the city and at the Monastery itself to cover the great manuscripts. Post-war Scuola del Cuoio brought those traditions back to the Monastery.

The friars converted the old dormitory space for the school and the first workbenches were placed in the corridor. During the Renaissance, the  Medici family donated this dormitory wing to the Franciscans and commissioned  architect  Michelozzo for its construction. The main corridor, with its vaulted ceiling and coats of arms of the Medici family over the doorways and mantle, is also decorated with frescoes executed by the school of Domenico Ghirlandaio.

The first students of Scuola del Cuoio came from the "Città dei Ragazzi”, Boys’ Town, of Pisa. The students were taught the differences between the various kind of leather,  the methods to cut leather by hand and began to create a variety of  leather items ranging from handbags and briefcases to other small leather goods. The more gifted students learned  how to make artistic objects such as desk sets and jewelry cases and the art of gilding leather using 22 carat gold.

In May of 1950, Scuola del Cuoio, due to the growing demand of fine quality hand-crafted products, opened its doors to clients inside the laboratories of the school. The first contracts made by the Gori family were with the 6th Fleet (stationed in the Mediterranean), the U.S. Air Force, the 5th Army and the American Embassies in Europe. These alliances contributed greatly to Scuola del Cuoio’s popularity in the United States and even led to the desk of the Oval Office where, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then-President of the United States, used a leather desk set hand-crafted and gilded from Scuola del Cuoio.

With support of the Italian Foreign Ministry, the then-Mayor of Florence, Giorgio La Pira, formally recognized the significant social role that Scuola del Cuoio played in the city and thus, created two annual scholarships for boys from Third World countries. At the end of the 1950’s, in agreement with the Ministry of Justice, Scuola del Cuoio began to offer courses to inmates inside Florence’s Murate prison and in juvenile detention centers. As a result, some of the young people who were admitted to these re-educational programs are still working in factories in Tuscany, in the Veneto and also inside Scuola del Cuoio itself, and Marcello Gori was given by the Government a medal for his efforts and commitment in the re-education of the prisoners.

On November 4th, 1966, after several days of torrential rains, the Arno River flooded Florence and its environs. The debris and mud from the countryside hit the district of Santa Croce, historically prone to flooding, the hardest. Scuola del Cuoio, like the entire Basilica of Santa Croce, was completely engulfed with the flood waters and sludge. The damage paralyzed the business for almost a year. Nevertheless, thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of the family and staff, Scuola del Cuoio was brought back to its efficiency. In 1968, President Saragat named Marcello Gori ”Cavaliere del Lavoro”, thus sugelling his lifetime dedication to a socially fair and sustainable business aiming for excellence.

Over the decades, Scuola del Cuoio has been honored to welcome many internationally renowned visitors. In the realm of international politics, visitors and clients have included the Royal Families of England, Japan and Sweden, the Queen of Greece, the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Sen. and Mrs. Ted Kennedy, Madeleine Albright, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush. Many visitors from the entertainment world own Scuola del Cuoio products and have visited the artisan workshops. Among them, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Rob Schneider, John Houston Steven, Spielberg, Zubin Mehta, Jack Nicklaus to name just a few.
The unique location, the quality of its products and the commitment to tradition has made Scuola del Cuoio famous. Scuola del Cuoio today remains the largest genuine laboratory in the city where clients can witness the artisans create the leather goods in the midst of centuries-old history.

The successive mayors of Florence have continued to honor Scuola del Cuoio with commissions to create guest books, albums and writing pads with the coat of arms of the city displayed during official ceremonies. The Bishop’s Court, the Internal Ministry, the Italian Air Force, the Official Academy of the State Police, and famous hotels such as the Ritz in Paris and the Hassler in Rome order their leather goods from Scuola del Cuoio. Our reputation, the quality of our products and the customization that we make available to our customers also allowed prestigious partnerships with companies from all over the world. Among the others, IWV Schaffhasuen, Mazda, American Express, RAI Radio Televisione Italiana, General Electric, TetraPack, FIAT, Philip Morris.

With the passing of Silvano Casini and Marcello Gori in 2003, two of the founding fathers of the Scuola del Cuoio, today, the vision of the school lives on through Marcello Gori’s family. Marcello Gori’s three daughters, Laura, Francesca, and Barbara, and grandson Tommaso (Laura’s son) manage Scuola del Cuoio. The Gori family continues to be committed to the great tradition of quality products and personal customer service which has allowed Scuola del Cuoio to establish a refined clientele worldwide. In recent news, the Santa Croce Advisory Council, appointed Laura Gori member, allowing Scuola del Cuoio to assist with the plans to restore and promote cultural programs at the monumental complex. Francesca Gori has created a line of hand-stitched one-of-a-kind handbags. Her collection is made from soft deerskin or exotic pelts such as crocodile, ostrich and python. Francesca Gori Designer bags often feature bright color combinations and have decorative closures with bobbles of silver, gold, semi-precious stones and other rare materials such as fossils, quartz, amber all from antique jewelry and the like found during Francesca’s travels throughout fairs, markets and shows throughout Europe.

The friars of the Monastery of Santa Croce and the Gori family share a common vision for Scuola del Cuoio. Their wish is to revive the minor arts, drawing from the experience of the master craftsmen, and to uphold the great traditions of Florentine quality craftsmanship. Scuola del Cuoio and the resident friars are also proud to provide a unique learning experience for visitors and students from all over the world.


Scuola del Cuoio - Via S. Giuseppe 5R - 50122 Florence - Italy - Ph.: (+39)055.244.533/4 - Fax: (+39)055.248.0337 info@ScuolaDelCuoio.com
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