Wonders in Florence.
A human heritage in action
Textiles, leather goods, gold, and even paper made in Florence find their way into storied homes, luxury purveyors, and private collections all over the world.
Many of you will recognize the traditional art forms we support through The Place of Wonders foundation, like porcelain, glass, and cashmere. Others, like scagliola—the art of inlay—may come as a pleasant surprise.
But few of us have any idea what it really takes to craft an object by hand until now.
Below, six wonders of Florence personally curated by the foundation and the local expertise of the GM of the Place Firenze, Claudio Meli, for you to book and experience:
100% of the costs paid by guests for unique experiences curated by The Place of Wonders Foundation go directly into the foundation fund, which finances a series of three-year scholarships for Italian students to attend LAO - Le Arti Orafe - Florence’s finest craft school.
Stepping into Bianco Bianchi’s scagliola workshop on the outskirts of Florence feels like entering a Tuscan treasure chest.
To the left, a showroom of antique scagliola, ancient tiles, old newspaper clippings, and family photographs with illustrious former clients like Gianni Versace and Pavarotti.
And to the right, a bustling workshop in action. For the late founder Bianco Bianchi, what began as an interest in collecting scagliola—inlaid decorative surfaces—turned into a passion for the art form.
By the 1960s, Bianchi’s hand-crafted scagliola pieces were in high demand.
These days you’ll find Bianchi’s son and grandson hard at work hammering, etching, mixing pigment, pouring, and polishing scagliola tables that dazzle with detail.
The work is meticulous and fascinating to watch in action—taking up to three months to complete one piece.
The name Ginori has been associated with premium Florentine porcelain production since 1735.
To walk through this heritage brand’s several large workshops, filled with the hum of local artisans hard at work painting, firing, and casting precious porcelain pieces, fills you with wonder.
There’s something emotional about seeing such a delicate craft in action on this scale. Each item, from espresso cups to large vases, is painstakingly labored over with skilled human hands.
An internship program ensures that the next generation receives the training they need to continue this heritage craft into the future.
You really feel the weight of Ginori’s history in their archive—a sprawling space filled with sculptures, molds, and individual works of art dating back centuries.
Expect the unexpected at Museo Marino Marini—a museum unlike any you’ve visited before.
The gallery’s uniquely spacious layout draws as much attention to the storied museum building (a former tobacco factory) as it does to the Marino Marini collection inside.
You won’t find informative plaques or lengthy descriptions to explain the artworks here.
Explanations of Marini’s 183 artworks, the fascinating history of the building (a former church-turned-cigar-factory), and the stories behind Alberti’s Holy Sepulcher in the hidden gem Rucellai chapel (fragrant with incense crafted by Gucci’s perfumer) come later.
You’re encouraged to freely walk around and feel your own genuine reaction to the work, the light, and the play on space without the crowds.
Paola Locchi, the powerhouse proprietaria behind Moleria Locchi, was a successful journalist before stepping in to safeguard her family’s 100-year-old glass etching business.
To walk into their San Frediano workshop feels, in some ways, like stepping back in time.
Floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with crystal goblets, wine glasses, vases, and smaller pieces fill the few rooms.
Master craftsmen stand attentively over whirring machines illuminated by spotlights, delicately etching and carving designs and motifs into the moving pieces of glass.
This technical craft takes years to perfect, and Moleria Locchi is one of the few Italian workshops to practice this unique skill.
Marco Cini has lived a life amongst the fibers of his seventy-year-old family cashmere business.
Marco compares the use of these older looms versus the faster, modern versions to “bistecca cooked over a flame instead of in an electric oven.”
He reminds us that “quality needs time.”
The workshop is abuzz with designers and local textile specialists who’ve worked with Marco for decades, their experienced fingers fluttering over every thread. That Val Bisenzio’s clients include heritage luxury Italian brands like Brunello Cucinelli is no surprise, given the care, quality, and loving human hands that touch every bolt of fabric from the shepherd to the store.
His fabric is some of the best in the world, woven slowly and carefully on Val Bisenzio’s restored, centuries-old looms for a more robust, artisanal finish.
“In order to create beauty, you need time,” Elisa Tozzi Piccini, the fourth-generation proprietor of this family-owned jeweler, explains.
Piccini has occupied the same spot on the Ponte Vecchio since 1903.
From the elegant ground floor, replete with precious gems from local makers, up to the attic workshop overlooking the Arno, every inch of this atelier brims with beauty.
Elisa studied gemology and learned much of her craft from her great uncle, Armando, a man with a world-famous eye for color. And still, she loves to work at the bench above the store, using many of the same tools her uncle did to create made-to-measure pieces by hand.
Aside from Piccini-made pieces, you’ll find curated objects from local artisans and sustainably sourced jewels with Elisa-approved color and clarity—because the difference is in the details.