Today we started our day with a visit to one of the most famous schools for leatherworking, Scuola del Cuoio. After going through the facility there and seeing all that went into creating leather products, we went to the silver museum. Then we went to the Boboli Gardens, which are beautiful botanical gardens, before finishing off with some banana gelato and wandering the streets.
During our visit to Scuola del Cuoio, we learned a lot about the process of making leather and how much it actually has to go through before it can be the finished leather bag or leather jacket that you could buy. First the animal had to be either hunted or farmed and killed. Then the animal has to be skinned.This happens all throughout the world depending upon what kind of animal it is. If it’s deer, it’s in Virginia, if it’s alligator, it’s Lousiana, and so on for each different animal. Nearly all of these do not take place in Italy. This is the point where it is then transferred to Italy to be tanned in an Italian tannery. This is what takes it from just simply being dead animal hide into being an actual workable piece of leather. This is the point where Scuola del Cuoio would then purchase this leather and being their part of the supply chain. This is extremely important to Scuola del Cuoio because they take lots of pride in the fact that nearly all of the actual production side of their product is done in Italy. Everything past simply killing and skinning the animal is done in Italy and after being tanned everything is done by their artisans themselves.
Artisans at Scuola del Cuoio then would go through the process of cutting the leather, making designs on it, sewing it together, and gilding anything that needed to be. Then it would be ready in its final state. The main customers of Scuola del Cuoio are Italians who are searching for high quality, artisan-made leather products. It’s a lot about the individuality of having a bag that wasn’t just mass produced, but was made by hand, in Italy. They sell ready made collections of leather bags, jackets, belts, wallets, and all other kinds of products. They also offer the option to custom make anything that their clients ask for. This could mean that if you wanted a leather bag for a specific purpose or you had specific needs, they would make the bag with those in mind just for you. This
The other main product of Scuola del Cuoio that many people may not think about is that they’re producing quality Italian artisans. They offer training for anywhere from a few hours or a few months to 5 years. They teach people the craft of leatherworking to the point where their students are true Italian artisans. This helps to preserve what is a somewhat dying craft in today’s age of mass production and globalization. I asked the woman who was giving us the tour if most of their students stayed in Italy or if they went abroad. She said that a lot of their students are no longer from Italy, but are from Japan, China, Korea, or the United States. There are still Italian students, but no longer are the Italians as motivated to learn leatherworking as they once were. Once these foreign students finish their time at Scuola del Cuoio, they typically return to their home countries. Once they’re there they either work as craftsman in a shop or they create their own. In this way, Scuola del Cuoio is providing the world with high quality, Italian craftsman who then are making products all over the world. It’s not restricted so that only Italians can experience this level of quality, but with their international base of students, there are constantly leatherworkers who are being sent out all around the world to create wonderful leather products and keep the trade alive. Whether it be creating fantastic Italian leather products or aiding the world community by training leatherworkers to make their own products, Scuola del Cuoio is making an impact on the world and giving back to Italy much in the same way that Italian businesses strive to.