Set in a fragrant Italian courtyard in Florence behind the historic Basilica di Santa Croce lies Scuola del Cuoio, a leather school and atelier with a humanitarian history.
The building that houses Scuola del Cuoio was originally a dormitory wing of the Monastery of Santa Croce, donated by the Medici family during the Renaissance. Post-World War II, the Gori and Casini families, local Florentine leather artisans, with the help of the Franciscan friars, converted the old dormitory into a leather school to give war orphans a place to learn a trade.
The first students at Scuola del Cuoio were from Boys Town of Pisa. The young men were taught to differentiate types of leather, to cut leather by hand, and to craft small leather goods. Gifted students were taught how to make challenging items such as desk sets and jewelry boxes.
During the 1950s, the Gori family opened the business up to receive its first contracts for leather goods. These contracts came from the U.S. Air Force, and the 5th Army and the American Embassies in Europe. Scuola del Cuoio’s master artisans also handcrafted the gilded leather desk set for the Oval Office used by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of the United States.
After the passing of Silvano Casini and Marcello Gori in 2003, the school is now overseen by Gori’s three daughters, Laura, Francesca, and Barbara, and his grandson Tommaso.
Today the Gori family sells high-quality handcrafted leather goods from soft calfskin, deer, ostrich pelts, and more exotic leathers, all made on site by the company’s master artisans.