The School of Leather (“Scuola del Cuoio”) in Florence, located in what used to be a dormitory inside the Basilica di Santa Croce, was founded in 1950 to help war orphans learn a trade to support themselves.
The young apprentices – children who may have otherwise lost themselves in the aftermath of the Second World War – had the opportunity to learn how to work with leather in beautiful halls decorated with frescoes by pupils of Ghirlandaio, and from a master like Marcello Gori, one of the founding fathers of the school with Franciscan friar Bernardino Farnetani.
Gori had learned his craft in his family’s workshop in Via del Corso, and had been an established leather worker since the 1930s. His first students at the school were young orphans from Pisa’s “Città dei Ragazzi”, which was managed by Franciscan friars.
As expert craftsmen taught generations of students the secrets of a fascinating trade and art, the school in the Gothic basilica – also known as “Temple of the Italian Glories”, in the words of poet Ugo Foscolo – started yielding leather bags and suitcases, as well as jewelry boxes and fine gilded objects sold all over the world.
Tommaso Gori, grandson of the school’s founder, explains “its human quality allowed the Leather School to overcome all the crises that have arisen in the past twenty-five years; and its human quality still represents the best asset for the future of our company, our family, and perhaps of the authentic ‘Made in Italy’ brand: the heritage of artisans, artists and passionate workers who have made this ‘quality label’ a world famous symbol of quality, refinement, good taste, and elegance.”
A charitable endeavor that has produced beauty for over sixty years.