Visiting Italy’s Leather Capital
Welcome to a short, visual article about Scuola del Cuoio.
It literally means “Leather School” and you will find it in the true fashion and design capital of Italy.
That’s right, I spent a few days in Florence and wanted to show you what you are missing.
Next week, I will follow up with another visual guide to Stefano Bemer’s flagship store.
Why Visit Florence?
As a short background, let me share some quick info about Florence itself.
The city, while not really large is one of the most popular touristic destinations.
Twice a year, it hosts the world renown Pitti Uomo, while it is a real student city especially for Erasmus students.
In its core, it’s a traditional Italian city with strong historical significance and rich lore.
Just like Napoli, Florence has a very strong connection to design, fashion and handmade crafts.
It explains how some of the best leatherworking, shoemaking and design or architecture schools have their location here.
If you plan to visit Italy, I strongly recommend making a trip to Florence and Tuscany.
The food alone is worth it! But be prepared, it’s a rather expensive place.
Scuola Del Cuoio | The Leather School
A few months ago, I discussed about my plans to move to Florence and Learn Shoemaking.
I mentioned that I would be studying in Scuola del Cuoio, which means “School of Leather”.
The school there is in collaboration with Stefano Bemer, one of the best shoemaking brands in the world.
What I did not realize was that Scuola is not the actual shoemaking school.
Instead, Scuola and the other segments (hat making, shoemaking, food artistry) are part of a bigger umbrella organization called Schola Academy.
The difference was that most of the leatherworking and shoemaking courses took place in Scuola’s premises at the old monastery.
For the shoemaking course, this will move in 2022 to their own location.
In any case, I paid Scuola del Cuoio a visit since it’s situated right in the heart of Florence in Santa Croce.
I took a lot of pictures and I wanted to share with you my experience in a more condensed visual article.
Entrance To The School
To find Scuola is really easy, all you have to do is punch it on Google or Apple Maps.
It’s literally no more than 100 meters from the Basilica di Santa Croce Church in a small alleyway next to a school.
As you make your way to the back of the cathedral towards the actual entrance, you will go through some corridors where students work on their leather shoes.
It was a lovely sight, as I pictured myself working there in just a few months time and creating fully handmade shoes.
Unfortunately, as it is a private school you are not allowed to take pictures so forgive me.
Go a bit further ahead, climb the stairs and you go to the main shop.
The Scuola Del Cuoio Shop
You notice that I wrote shop, not school there right?
This is because the actual thing inside is more like a leatherworking shop with souvenirs, leather clothes and small workshops.
It does have a rather touristy, yet charming appeal to it.
For me the best parts are not the leather items for sale, but rather the history of the space, the corridors, the pictures of the famous people that visited.
Check those last ones and you will see people like Robert Downey, Will Smith, Neil Patrick Harris and more.
Of course, you can grab some souvenirs or just gaze at the displayed items around.
The personnel is quite friendly and accommodating.
The Scuola Corridor
Admittedly, this is not a huge place to be in.
There is one main corridor that has rooms on the sides with various goods that I will showcase later.
The corridor itself is narrow with display items of mostly bags from exotic materials around.
Probably the most interesting part is the benches where leather artisans work in real time.
You can see them work a bit on exotic hides, or simply request them to stamp your initials on something you just purchased.
Or if you feel like it, you can go through the history of the place via the posters on the walls.
Of course you can also check out the unique bags from ostrich, alligator and more in an array of colorful palettes. If you want, you can request one and they check the available hides.
Lastly, there are a few nice exhibits of older work from former students, or remnants of another era.
What fascinates me, is that most (if not all) of the items in Scuola are for women.
Inside The Corridor Rooms
As you explore a bit deeper, there’s a few rooms that are full of leather clothes and accessories.
When I say full, I mean full. There are hundreds of them.
Jackets from calfskin or suede for example take an entire room.
I did not take enough pictures from there, because it was frankly boring and too commercial.
Instead, here are some bags and accessories from the 50’s and 70’s on display.
It’s always cooler to get a taste of history but also realize that the high quality things were not so different back then.
Before I talk a little bit more about Schola Academy, here a few more pictures.
I was supposed to meet Andrea, my handler and contact in the shoemaking course.
Like a proper tourist, I went to the wrong place but finally took a taxi to the correct address.
Situated near Porta Romana, Schola has a nice open space right next to a bunch of artists.
They collaborate with different brands (Scuola is a brand) such as Stefano Bemer to create courses for a limited selection of people bi-annually.
Bespoke shoemaking is on a whole new level and from next year, courses will move in this particular area.
At least that’s the plan!
Andrea was very kind to talk to me about students, life, the course and its challenges and show me around.
I think that this space will look like a proper workshop when it’s ready!
One day, my work will also be on display in these premises.
That I promise you.
My trip to Scuola del Cuoio was short and full of surprises.
It will probably not blow your mind, but it’s worth sitting outside the windows to check students working.
The area around is also beautiful and peaceful.
I definitely recommend a quick visit if you are around the cathedral.
By the way, since I was on vacations and house hunting, it was relaxing to write such a short (but to the point) article.
I will continue next week with part 2 of my Florence adventure where I will showcase to you the Stefano Bemer store through pictures.
Until then, stay safe and stay dapper.
Thank you for reading,